Upper Ruamahanga Gorge
24-26 Nov 2017
On Friday evening Paul and I headed in to Roaring Stag, to find it full, including a group of deerstalkers who had come in to do some maintenance on the hut - good on them.
We slept on the verandah and got away at 0630 on Saturday. Up to Cattle Ridge Hut (also renovated by the deerstalkers and looking fine), then along Cattle Ridge to the spur just south of Pukekino.
Great views of the Dundas and Bannister ridges. We descended this spur which was mostly good going until a band of proper monkey scrub from about 960m. After this we descended through taller bush to arrive in the south headwater branch of the Ruamahanga at the confluence with the side creek running west of Pukekino. Merv (Tararua Footprints) says “beware of overlapping contour lines” but we seemed to avoid these. Down the river to the headwater forks, 6 hours so far.
The first section of gorge marked on the map isn’t that difficult, including one waist-deep wade and a sidle around another pool. Soon we passed the creek descending from the basin containing Dundas Hut and then the point where the track from there to Cattle Ridge crosses the river.
The serious bit of gorge starts below this, with black dripping cliffs enclosing beautiful deep green pools that must be swum. We were very glad of our shorty wetsuits as the water wasn’t warm and the sky was overcast. Most of the 10-12 swims (I lost count) are before Chamberlain Creek.
After this the gorge opens a bit and travel reverts to mostly boulder hopping with numerous crossings. The river was low (essential for these trips) and before too long we were out of the gorge. Scrambling up onto the bush terrace we had a look at the small lake then continued across to Ruapae Stream, which we followed down to rejoin the river just above Roaring Stag. 11.5 hours for the day and out on Sunday morning.
- Party members
- Franz Hubmann (scribe), Paul McCredie (photos)