Aorangi Adventure M/F
Wednesday 29 September 2021
Deciding to share the club van from Wellington and take advantage of Waikuku Lodge* on Tuesday night made this trip much more enjoyable by halving the driving time for the day and providing the opportunity for a very pleasant shared meal.
The Lodge is DoC-owned and situated fifteen minutes’ walk, or a bumpy five minute drive, from the end of Hauraki Road, a perfect starting point for our Aoraki adventure. The weather forecast predicted a fine Wednesday squeezed in between days of cloud and drizzle – or worse.
My enticing blurb to prospective trampers stated that:
‘The plan is to do a circuit from the Haurangi Road end and up to Mt Ross, .983, the highest point in the Aorangi Range, go on to .838 and .674 and then back down to the roadend’ (or something like that!).’ Eight people who usually do Medium or Medium/Fit trips took up the offer and in the end we did do ‘something like that’. After much consultation with people who had completed similar tramps in the past, I decided to tackle the route in reverse, starting off up a clear track from the car parking area at the end of Haurangi Road.
Judging by comments in the Lodge’s Intentions Book, I would guess that this track is kept clear by hunters, so we were grateful for the footpad their boots provided. The route follows the fence line up (and down) to Turanganui at .674. From there, we traversed a horrible area where the track was very overgrown with shoulder high gorse and the track less clear to follow – maybe because we were focussed on pushing our way through the prickles rather than looking at the ground. We emerged eventually, somewhat shredded, into a clear sheltered area where we recovered our spirits with morning tea, admiring the clear views over Palliser Bay, down to the Kaikouras and across to the Tararuas.
From here, the route was across open hillside and easy to follow, meeting up with the DoC-maintained track at .838 where a track back to the Turanganui East Branch River was signposted. It looked OK from the top but who knows? When walking along the four-wheel drive track at the end of our day, we passed an almost hidden DoC marker indicating the other end of the track. It didn’t look quite so clear from there! Exploring that option is for another day.
Back on the ridgeline, we followed the well-maintained and marked Mount Ross Track, passing through varied bush with an occasional glimpse of Palliser Bay and beyond. Twenty minutes from the top, we dropped our packs at the turnoff to the track to the river and continued on to Mount Ross, ‘summiting’ at .981, another 800+ m peak ticked off David Ogilvie’s list. All that effort for a stunted pipe in the ground and no view!!! Back to the turnoff where a few of us managed to have lunch in the dappled sunlight. Still, we were happy to be there.
The track down was steep! There were some lovely old rimu trees scattered through the beech forest. Occasional treefall offered some navigational challenges but the track was reasonably easy to follow until it reached the unnamed side stream that feeds into Turanganui East Branch River. This part required concentration to navigate over several stream crossings which were surprisingly fast flowing, and then there were a few more crossings of the main river before we found our way to the road. However, we didn’t get lost, so rewarded ourselves with afternoon tea in the first dry, flat space we could find.
Finally, a meandering, two hundred metre climb along the four-wheel-drive track back to the car park and a drive back to Wellington. A satisfying eight-hour 10-minute day.
- Party members
- John Allard, Helena Weller-Chew, Lynne White (leader and scribe), Cathy Wylie, Chris Munn, Peggy Munn, David McNabb, David Ogilvie, Janette Roberts