Western Hutt - Elder - Quoin Ridge
1-2 April 2010
On a fine Easter Thursday morning Frederick and I left the car at the Kaitoke Waterworks road carpark and walked up the 4WD access road over the hill into the Hutt water catchment area. From the road-end in the Eastern Hutt we followed the marked track to the river edge then boulder-hopped down the Eastern Hutt the short distance to Hutt Forks. It was great to be back in the Tararuas, beside a pristine river with the warm sunlight filtering down through beech forest.
There hadn’t been much rain recently so the river was low. A short gorgy section soon above the forks led us up into a 15-20 minute sidle on the true left but apart from that it was in the riverbed all the way. Good splashy fun criss-crossing the river between long sections of gravel and boulders, bright in the sunlight. Bush-clad faces and spurs reached up on either side. We nearly stepped on an eel in a very shallow tumble of water and stones beside the main channel. It wriggled along for a metre or so, mostly out of the water, until it slid into the nearest large pool and curled away into the depths in a more relaxed manner.
Not long after lunch we reached Renata Forks; you could camp in the bush on the narrow tongue of land between Renata Stream and the Western Hutt. Further up the Western Hutt trees started to almost meet overhead in places and we found ourselves following wet boot prints on the rocks. Just before the next main forks, about 2km above Renata Forks, we caught up to a Regional Council chap who was camping nearby and checking wildlife. After a short chat we headed northeast up the 700m leading spur from the forks to Elder Peak. There was a footpad which we managed to stay on most of the way up through lovely open beech forest, mossy higher up, with occasional glimpses across to neighbouring bush ridges in the afternoon sunlight. We emerged tiredly by a small cairn on the side track to the old Elder Bivvy site, and after visiting the site just inside the bush-edge - the fireplace being the only bit left - we headed up to Elder Hut, just under the top of Elder peak at 11
The snug new 4-bunk hut is in a great position, facing westwards with views out over the Waiotauru basin to the Otaki area and southwards to the Hutt Valley and Wellington. We settled in for a pleasant evening after an 8 ½ hour day. Sunset outlined the Kaikouras immediately behind the lights of Wellington, while to the northwest we could see as far as the lights of Wanganui.
In the morning we headed east through bush along the undulating Renata Ridge track. A ceiling of cloud obscured Hector and the other high tops of the Southern Crossing and we climbed up into it on the slopes of Aston. Beyond Aston we emerged into warm sunlight with clear views ahead, down into the upper Tauherenikau, the golden tussock slopes of Alpha, and south along Quoin Ridge - our next objective.
After a rest on the top of Alpha we headed south along Quoin Ridge - more new territory for me. The cloud stayed away so the great views continued, and navigation was straightforward; a reasonable footpad here also helps. Over the broad top of Quoin, and then we started getting to patches of bush, intermittent markers helping us stay on the route. After lunch in a beautiful mossy clearing inside the bush we continued along the ridge following a good footpad. At a section of scrubby swampy bush there was a marked section of track with signs asking us to keep to the track to avoid disturbing the area. We saw a couple of green parakeets here. Further down the ridge markers started again and continued right down to the Hutt Forks, the last couple hundred metres of descent being quite steep. A rest on the river bank then it waback onto the access road over the hill to the cars, to complete a 9-hour day. A great round trip. Franz Hubmann and Frederick Maes
- Party members
- Franz Hubmann and Frederick Maes