Whakanui Creek Headwaters M
10 February 2016
10 February, still and already warm with 26 degrees forecast, the Wednesday mediums assembled in Gracefield at the foot of the Wainui hill, twelve in all after three withdrawals and Bernard Molloy’s car misbehaving in gridlock en route. I discovered I had no boots or gaiters; socks though! The gang immediately proffered a range of creative and generous solutions. Brand new Timberland boots, never worn and two sizes too big, were miraculously produced by Wayne who’d planned to give them their maiden outing but also had his olds. Bob dangled another pair of socks. A roadside test proved the arrangement satisfactory and off we set for Sunny Grove with the headwaters of Whakanui Creek as our goal. A front seat ride over the hill in Jim’s powerful, shiny, red, week-old auto helped soothe my boot conscience. Alison stowed my driving shoes in her pack in case the boot arrangement proved disastrous. She needn’t have worried, Wayne’s tightly laced boots felt like kid gloves, although they didn’t exactly look like that at day’s end after an hour in the creek.
The route took us along the Whakanui track to trap WW15, up a Jagger/Bartlett shortcut to the Old Whakanui, then down into Whakanui Creek on a Kiwi monitoring line called LPE. Great collaborative route finding ensued as we got below the tagged route and a rope helped with the short but steep descent into the creek. Everyone enjoyed the stunning upper reaches, deliciously cool on a stinking hot day. My bumbag launched itself into a deep pool as I removed my pack to squeeze up and over a slimy rock, thoroughly dousing two electronic devices therein before I was able to scramble down to retrieve the object slowly bobbing downstream. (Overnight desiccation restored their function.) The only cost of the day was a Leki pole snatched from Ray’s bag somewhere near the start of the creek travel, which we hope to find next time we venture down there. Lunch was taken at a magic spot at the top forks. Homeward bound, the climb out to the East Whakanui lands you in magnificent cloud forest at 700m, to the east of the saddle, so we kept going and took our final stop after the climb out of the saddle at the junction with the Old Whakanui track, lying back and admiring the epiphytes in the trees high above.
Lazy stops and a reasonable pace allowed for full appreciation of the natural wonders along the way and much enjoyment; a little over seven hours. The generosity continued at Sunny Grove with Jim distributing the fruits of his gardening labours - scallopini and chillis. ‘Legendary’, wrote Mike this morning, encouraging me to write this.
- Party members
- Mike Crozier, John Dement, Jim Gibbons, Carolyn Jenkins, Ray Jenkins, Wayne Perkins, Lynne Pomare (leader and scribe), Penny Salmond, Bob Stephens, Alison Stephenson, Bill Stephenson, Lyn Taylor