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Trip Reports 2013-04-03-West Akatarawa Maunganui

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This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper Volume 85, no 5, June 2013

Titi – West Akatarawa headwaters – Maunganui M

3 April 2013

It has been a great autumn for walking in the N.W. Akatarawa Forest Park. Not only is the mud minimal, but there seem to have been fewer quad bikes at work, though the odd trail bike gets into places you wouldn’t think possible. Leaf litter lies thick on the ground and walking on and off track is pleasant.

Our circuit from Quad Bike Corner in the Maungakotukutuku Valley took in Titi and Maunganui. Starting up the Old Road, with a detour to miss the worst eroded bits, we took the usual route, called Allans Track on David Burson’s invaluable sketch map, to Titi. Here my memory of tracks beyond Titi forsook me for a while, but a look at the map and compass told us that Titi Road lay not far below us on the other side. Its continuation David called The Motorway, and it’s such easy walking that you have to watch carefully for the old logging road (Martins Track) which winds down to the valley flats of the upper Akatarawa River West. Podocarps must have been thick on the ground here once, ground that is now much cut up by bikes. At the only patch of open grass we stopped, dead on noon, for lunch

At the forks, we took the lesser branch back up towards Maunganui, astonished at the evidence of a huge flood which had not only swept the bed of the stream clear, but had taken everything off the sides, leaving vertical banks of over two, sometimes well over two, metres. What was odd was that all the debris of logs and branches was lying interwoven and horizontal at the very top of the banks. We reached the point where West Stream comes in to find that while there had been a power of water down the main stream, it was down this minor side creek that the devastating flood had come. Ours was a Medium trip only, so contenting ourselves with the thought that somewhere up there a lake might have formed which had then burst, we continued on to the next side stream on the TL and headed up the spur beyond it. At the point where it flattens out at the top, you meet a track along the ridge and must take an extraordinarily sharp turn to the left. You’d think you were going back the way you’ve just come, but no, you are taken along to the main track up from the old Game Farm and are soon on Maunganui (in the mist that day – no views). A short way down the Maunganui track, another track drops off to the left (David’s sketch map is misleading here). It has been recently cleared for trail bike use but is as yet uncorrupted. It led us directly back to our cars.

Party members
Robin Chesterfield, Colin Cook, Paddy Gresham, Brian Hasell, Carol Kelly, David Ogilvie, Lynne Pomare, Nina Price, Marilyn Richards, Alison Stephenson, John Thomson (leader and scribe), Bill Wheeler, Warwick Wright

Footnote A party returned to the area the following Wednesday intent on establishing the cause of the damage. The trail of devastation continued up West Stream a further kilometre or so then, at about 490 m altitude, left the stream bed and rose up the side of the hill to end just below the crest at about 590 m. Clearly a large slip had entered the watercourse during a burst of torrential rain and, lahar-like, swept almost two kilometres downstream before running out of puff. The WRC web pages for the Akatarawa River record, on the fifth of February 2013, a two-year flood event with flows some three hundred times greater than when we were in the river in April, and a rainfall peak that was off-scale (above 35 mm per hour). The latest Google imagery for the area just happens to be 28 February 2013 and the slip is clearly seen.

The image (above) extends from the slip at far left, eastwards to the point where John’s route turned northward. Some stream damage is visible

The second party comprised Colin Cook (scribe), Ken Fraser, Tricia French, Howard Larsen, David Ogilvie, Peter Reimann, John Thomson, Bill Wheeler, Warwick Wright

Page last modified on 2013 Jun 20 03:12

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