False Spur MF
18-20 February 2013
False Spur doesn't really go anywhere. From Atkinson (1472 m) on the Southern Crossing it runs south, straight and high towards Alpha Hut, then abruptly terminates, dropping 500 vertical metres to yet another Tauherenikau gorge. Those wishing to reach Alpha Hut in good time must swing southwest at Atkinson and follow the ridge over Aston and Alpha, viewing False Spur from afar. Closer inspection seemed warranted.
We went in to Alpha Hut via the Eastern Hutt: over the WRC four-wheel-drive road and the gorge sidle track then up the river. There used to be a reasonable pad on the Eastern Hutt TR at least as far as Quoin Stream but this time wherever we left the river bed the terraces were littered with dead branches, probably snow damage. About an hour above Quoin Stream we reached the toe of the spur leading to Alpha Hut (as described in Tararua Footprints) and ascended. Near the top, as Merv describes, one must sidle right (north-eastish) to avoid both leatherwood and climbing higher than the hut. We left it too late and finally scratched our way onto the track at the bushline.
Next morning we went 400 m along the track towards Hells Gate and then from the top of a local prominence swung north and dropped steeply about 300 m to the Tauherenikau. A 450 m ascent of the eastern edge of the terminal gable end brought us to the bushline on False Spur.
Then began a delightful tops saunter, much enhanced by a radiant blue sky and utterly still air. Low tussock and an almost complete absence of leatherwood made the going easy. The views were extensive especially on our right, the eastern side: Neill and the Winchcombe Ridge with Concertina Knob lurking behind, Cone Ridge and the Eastern Range; to the south Alpha and Reeves; in the foreground the intricacies of the upper Tauherenikau gorges. We saw eidelweiss and gentian aplenty, tarns, and two deer.
The spur steepens as it nears Atkinson; strays from the Southern Crossing would need determination to persist with this route.
We were on Atkinson by midday, time enough to complete a day off track by going along to The Beehives, down their eastern spur to the Tauherenikau, up onto 1187 and so back to Alpha Hut. A worthy proposition unanimously lost to the alternative of a long lunch and stroll back to the hut via the Southern Crossing track.
We came out via the Eastern Hutt but this time going over Alpha and descending to the river via Quoin Stream spur. This spur has endured fire, and maps show tussock extending down to about 900 m on the western side. But limited visibility down the convex curve of the spur made it difficult to assess just how open the going was below 1000 m so we entered the bush there. Lower down there is a good pad all the way to the river.
- Party members
- Colin Cook (scribe), Kim Livingstone, David Ogilvie.