Papatahi to .830 Remutaka Forest Park
18-19 January 2022
Six of us had a great trip along the tops of the Remutaka Range last month.
The genesis of this trip came from another visit to the tops, as so often happens. Three of us had climbed up from Baine Iti to .830, returning via another spur to the north. I had never been northwards along the ridgeline towards Papatahi, although I had heard about the work of the Moa Trust putting in traps and cutting tracks. The route along the tops looked so good I decided to offer a trip to explore the rest of the top north from .830.
A time guesstimate suggested an overnight stay at Waerenga to avoid a twelve-hour day. Jenny cheerfully informed me that she had done this trip in the ‘80s and it took all weekend, with a camp on the tops, getting out very late on Sunday. She came along to see whether we could do it faster. David McNabb secured a map of the Moa traplines, and Paul McCredie and Franz Hubmann sent me copies of an earlier map.
Hence six of us had a very pleasant night on Tuesday 18 January at Waerenga. We left the hut at 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning and walked upriver, reaching the start of the track up to Papatahi in ninety minutes, ahead of my time estimate. DoC had an alert on this track, saying it was ‘overgrown and hard to follow’, but we had no problems on the west side. The rope is still there but not necessary as scrub now covers the slip. However, the next hundred metres was up steeply gravelled slopes requiring a lot of scrambling into the trees for handholds and creeping over tiny ledges. The gradient eased as we climbed higher, giving views over steeply-eroded country to the north. The cloud forest from 800 m was spectacular and we were on Papatahi for our second morning tea at 10.45. We headed off at 11.00, eyes sharp to find the start of the ridge top leading south. Several club members had mentioned this was the crux of the ridge travel, and Jenny remembered the navigation of this section as being particularly difficult. Lucky for us the trust had put pink triangles at regular intervals and thanks to David’s map we could even check which trap we were up to.
The tricky, narrow bit of ridge was dealt with by a dramatic descent to the east steeply down to one of those grassy sections the Remutakas often provide. Regaining the ridge, we passed through two sections where the route edged along its western rim, and since the northerly had risen, as forecast, concentration was required. However, the views along the range, down the Ōrongorongo river, towards Wellington and east to Palliser Bay, were spectacular.
As we approached .819 we again gave thanks for the cut track as we faced a wide flank of scrub. We had lunch shortly before .819 at 12.30. We were making good time along the ridge top, stopping regularly to admire and photograph the views and generally enjoy the day. As we progressed towards .830 we particularly enjoyed the many huge fuchsia in flower. Jenny spotted the campsite from her previous foray forty years ago, tucked under some trees. We faced our biggest wind/ridge challenge on this section, a ridge top with drop offs on both sides, but managed without crawling.
We reached .830 at 2 p.m. and checked out the northern track off it for a future trip, before turning down the steep southern route towards .470 and Matthews Stream. It took us two hours including afternoon tea. The track exits a little way up Matthews Stream. We reached the river at 4 p.m. and were sitting having a brew at Waerenga at 5 p.m. A ten-hour day. We had decided to go home on Wednesday, so added another hour to the day walking out to the cars. It was a very satisfying couple of days in great company.
- Party members
- John Dement, David McNabb, Jenny Mason, Janette Roberts (scribe), Mike Wespel-Rose, Lynne White.