A round trip in the Haurangis
17 February 2016
Several visits to the Haurangis in recent years led me to think there could be an interesting round trip from the car park above Waikuku Lodge, first up towards Mt Ross, then down to Sutherlands Hut, and from there back up the west branch of the Turanganui Stream.
The first two hours took us up and around the watershed of the east branch of the Turnganui, over Mt Turanganui and on nearly to .838 where a marked track drops back down into the stream. Two years ago there were recent signs of minor track clearing where needed, supposedly by hunters, but since then gorse has flourished in many places. It is still reasonably soft and low, but shins and thighs were well abraded. A shame: this is the most direct route to Mt Ross, and offers magnificent panoramas.
No gorse on the descent, thankfully, and the cut track through patches of scrub is clear of obstruction. You do have to watch carefully when signs of the route disappear in the long dry grass. This was a very pleasant part of the trip. The last 30m into the stream bed is awkward. Two years ago the route was down a steep shingle chute through scrub, difficult to ascend; markers now direct you to a steep and crumbling rock outcrop under big beech trees, the toe of the spur, difficult, not to say dangerous, to descend.
A short climb took us on to the old road. The exact spot is not marked but is easily found: it is directly opposite the end of the tracked spur and the mouth of the stream beside it. Watch for a steep grass lead and you’ll soon pick up orange markers. We now turned down river to Sutherlands Hut, the stream so low that it was easy to hop dry foot across the many fords.
Fifteen minutes further on from the hut, the track up the west branch is clearly signposted, but although it starts beside the stream, it immediately climbs and continues to sidle steadily quite high up for some 90 minutes before it reaches the old mill site. I had imagined that the old road to the mill from the car park would continue further down the valley. It doesn’t. This track is mostly scratched into very steep hillside, but it is benched after a fashion and has the marks of a Forest Service venture. Marvellously, it is not obstructed by either slips or fallen trees.
It is not until you are across the last side stream and nearly at the mill site that the old, gently graded mill road begins, and apart from one section of old slips and fallen trees, it made for an easy 90 minute conclusion to what, despite some afternoon misty drizzle, had been a varied and enjoyable 8 hour outing.
- Party members
- Linda Beckett, Tony Black, Ian Cairns, Michael Crozier, Susan Guscott, Justin Kerr, Peggy Munn, Wayne Perkins, Marilyn Richards, Paul Shipley (Marlborough TC), John Thomson (leader and scribe) and Warwick Wright