Upper Atiwhakatu Stream – McGregor
1 February 2022
I’d put a trip to the upper reaches of the Atiwhakatu on the fixture card several times but always had to cancel. With a good forecast and low river levels in the first week of February, we at last had an opportunity to get it done. We decided to walk in the evening before in order to allow time to get all the way up the stream and climb the elegant spur that runs from the headwater forks up onto McGregor.
We camped upstream from the hut at the Jumbo Hut track junction. We were away just after 7 a.m. and at the bridge a few minutes later where we took to the creek bed. Soon after we entered a jumble of giant boulders and there we began climbing, wading, balancing on tree trunks, wiggling through gaps, swinging around branches - almost anything other than walking. It was slow going but great fun, exercise for all parts of the body including the brain.
It took us 90 minutes to cover the first kilometre to the big side creek off Baldy where we decided it was time for a break. We had spooked a mother and baby goat and it soon became obvious that we had settled down between them and their grazing. Mum glared at us, baby filled in the time with jumping and prancing practice, and then another goat leapt spectacularly boulder–to-boulder across the (only) ankle deep stream to join them.
We left them to their morning tea and carried on upstream. The gradient eased and there were flattish patches in between the boulder climbs. A further two hours brought us to the base of the spur leading to McGregor. We climbed through steep but fairly open bush. As the spur narrowed up we could follow an animal trail, that whilst not being exactly clear, lead us to the best places to push through the leatherwood. We stopped frequently to catch our breaths and enjoy views of the Broken Axe and the basin under Angle Knob.
We arrived on McGregor just as the cooling easterly died and the sun began to push through the high overcast. The easy walk around the tops to Jumbo should have been enjoyable on such a calm, fine day, but we were way, way too hot. We collapsed onto the veranda at the hut for a long time trying unsuccessfully to cool down before setting off down the old track to the river.
Tired and overheated as we were, we made a bit of a mess of the descent and managed to lose for a while the only marked track that we had been on since early morning. But eventually we could see our tent below us and then we were enjoying a cup of tea, 11 hours after we had set out. We had thought we might walk out that evening, but we had brought dinner in case we wanted to stay, so we cooked and ate and enjoyed the evening cool settling around us. .
- Party members
- Athletes – John Dement, Jenny Mason (scribe)