10 March 2010
Wootton Stream (it rhymes with ‘put in’) drains the side valley downriver from Paua Hut and the familiar spur up to Tapokopoko on the Rimutaka Range. It’s well known to four wheel drivers because of the rocky ford it presents them with. We were to find that it is rocky all the way up. The red rock of which it consists (presumably red argillite) is hard and doesn’t break up easily so there is very little fine rock or shingle anywhere. We approached it from the Orongorongo Track, Browns Track and a thirty minute walk down the river. The stream bed has more Buddleia in it than expected after recent storms and we soon found better going just inside the bush edge of the TR terrace which runs almost up to the main forks, where we chose the TR branch which would take us to Tapokopoko – if we could cope -because from then on the gradient steepened markedly, the rocks often became considerable boulders, and long hanging branches of rangiora competed with and finally took over from the Buddleia. The scrambling was quite demanding. At last, a patch of grass provided a view of the upper valley, very steep but mostly well clothed in tussock, flax and low scrub. It also provided a welcome lunch stop. For a while we followed the more open stream bed, but when it re-entered a steep, narrow defile, we took to the slopes and made our way, hanging on to the well-rooted vegetation, to the edge of the beech forest high above. There we were on the gently sloping plateau which lies so extensively to the south of Tapokopoko, and were soon on top. The track back down was not too hard to follow, though it is certainly overgrown in places, and we managed to spot the notorious and ill-marked swing to the right at about the 280m contour. A nine hour day.
- Party members
- Neil Challands, Colin Cook, Tony Holmes, David Ogilvie and John Thomson(leader and scribe).