In Search of Conical Knob
Wednesday 2 March 2016
Having previously obtained permission from the farmer, we crossed his land off the Putara Road and followed a farm track, then an old marked track up through the bush to eventually emerge on the flat tussock summit of Ngamaia (982m). From here we could see south along the low northern Tararua tops towards Kareti, Ruapae and the higher East Peak/West Peak area. Above the bush and mostly above the scrub we were free to wander south along the tussock tops and enjoy the views all around.
The next named bump is Conical Knob (970m). Interestingly, the named point is a barely noticeable rise on the main ridge along here and not the obvious cone-shaped knob about 500 metres to its north and just west of the ridge. Old maps from the 1960s do show that as Conical Knob, and while enjoying our lunch on its summit (after Lynne had found a way up through its protective leatherwood belt) we agreed that the name must have been mistakenly moved at some point. Joan wondered if perhaps the Knob itself had been moved, which would raise far larger questions. Soon after getting through the short leatherwood zone in the next saddle we reached Massey Knob, where a ridge leads off west to Ngapuketurua. An old track comes along here – up from Baber Forks in the Mangahao. It is still largely followable though quite scrubby in places.
The front group of our party surprised two deer just below Kareti, at whose summit we found a decent old cairn – a thin metal pipe in it had mostly disintegrated. This marks the turnoff to the old Schormanns Track – which descends off Kareti down to farmland near the Putara road end. After access problems in the 1970s, including the Putara Hut on this ridge being burnt down, the route was shifted one spur south to the current track that goes up to Herepai Hut. We enjoyed the views from Kareti – including west to the curve of the Manawatu coastline and south through the deep saddle between East and West Peaks to the Dundas Ridge.
Then it was time to descend. The leatherwood wasn’t too bad and soon we were at what might be the old Putara Hut site. We weren’t sure as there was only a disintegrating 1.5 metre corrugated iron box (possibly a meat safe) and no obvious hut site. The old track down through the bush was OK in its middle section but the last 200 metre descent to the farmland (with permission again) was an unpleasant scrub bash. From about 740m altitude a spur to the south offers an alternative route – reasonable travel down to the flats in the head of the Mangatainoka River not too far below Ruapae Falls. This stays on public land and you can then follow the river down to the main track to the road end, or climb over bump 655m on its true left.
We had enjoyed a 9-hour day in a seldom-visited part of the range.
- Party members
- Joan Basher, Colin Cook, Franz Hubmann (leader and scribe), Paul McCredie, David McNabb, Lynne White