30 October 2019
On an earlier trip trudging down the vast shingle fan of the lower Mukamuka stream, my attention was drawn to a significant side stream on the true left. A cursory look at the map revealed this to be the Hinakitaka Stream which, like Corner Creek, is shown as rising just below the summit of Mount Matthews.
The Hinakitaka Stream is hidden from view by the south ridge of Matthews and the narrow opening into the Mukamuka sream. It was crying out to be explored. A quick internet search disclosed that it had been visited by parties of botanisers in the 1920s and 30s, one of whom found the streamside terrain so steep they resorted to detaching specimen foliage by firing a 303 rifle at the plant.
Our route took us south along the coast and into the Mukamuka stream. An hour after leaving Corner Creek we were at the mouth of the Hinakitaka stream, where spurs from both sides force the stream through a series of narrow gates.
Once through the gates the surprisingly large expanse of the Hinakitaka catchment became visible to us. We made good progress up the lower reaches of the Hinakitaka, which was clear and open but protected from the nor-wester. The obstacles to our progress were easily overcome, but although we were making good horizontal progress we seemed to be gaining height relatively slowly. Like cricketers chasing a total in a 50 over match, our potential climb rate to reach the summit was rising as we got closer and closer to Matthews. When we reached the large, marked slip on the true right, the challenge of climbing the remaining 450 metres to the summit, which now loomed over us, became apparent.
We took a rather exposed route, along goat tracks, up the old recovering slip on the true right to enter the trees at about 700 metres. We lunched there before setting off again on a steep climb up through trees to the southern ridge of Matthews, reaching it 300 metres south of the summit. From there we travelled along a clear animal footpad on the top of the ridge, which in places is designed only for very short people, to arrive at the summit at 2pm.
The wind, high altitude fog and cold at the summit encouraged us to move on and we headed down the marked track towards North Saddle. At an altitude of about 730 metres we reached a saddle where a trip earlier this year had come up out of Corner Creek. We reversed that route, staying in the trees until the steep dry stream bed became navigable. For those of us who had been on the earlier trip, the descent into Corner Creek was much easier because there was scree shingle in the “drainpipe” which allowed us to ‘ski’ down to the main creek. We were back at the car, and the strong nor wester, just after 5pm.
As ever there is unfinished business – the top section of Corner Creek, an ascent of the south ridge of Matthews and an easier way out of Hinakitaka…
- Party members
- Colin Cook, Franz Hubmann, Gerald Leather (leader and scribe), Lynne
White, Serena Finlay