In the Western Hutt with Bill
Wednesday 23 February 2022
Thirty years ago I was on a trip that was planned to go up the Hutt River from Hutt Forks to Elder Biv. High river levels turned us back at Hutt Forks.
Today there’s another chance to explore the river. Just Bill and I. With recent rain, the river is a bit fresh. The forecast: a little rain in the morning, with showers persisting in the afternoon in the Akatarawas.
We leave Norbett Stream carpark at 7.45 a.m. The initial plan is ‘to go as far as we can’ and then exit onto Maymorn or Quoin Ridge. Alternatively, Bill suggests, we might like to stay in the river and go to Renata Forks and back.
A 2010 trip report indicated there was just one small gorge to climb around, early on.
Water flow conditions are such that we don’t need to link up, but care is required when crossing the river.
At the first gorge, a sidle is necessary. Staying in the river would require a substantial upriver swim! In cold water and with a low air temperature in the southerly weather conditions. Up a sloping ledge we scramble, and cross a big easy terrace. Looking for a way back down that does not end in a vertical drop, we realise we have gone too far.
On we go. We stay on one side of the river as much as possible and cross where it swings one way or another. The travel is very beautiful – especially in the little gorge sections. We need to climb around three impassable gorge sections. Each detour is a fascinating little problem to solve. Finding a way up a steep face, crossing a terrace that peters out, and looking for a way back down to the river.
After two or so hours in the river, we still have probably a bit more than an hour to Renata Forks. To continue to the forks and then return to a spur to climb to Quoin Ridge would make the day too long. We could go to the forks and return downriver, but I feel unenthusiastic about spending so much time in the water.
We decide to find a spur to take us onto Quoin Ridge. We find one that looks OK on the map. A very attractive route through open easy scrub on the steep ground out of the river, with good views. We stop for lunch at about 12.15, then on we climb. It is easy and interesting travel.
As we approach the top of Quoin Ridge, we arrive at a plant enclosure used for scientific study. It is raining. It is misty. The scrub and bush are wet. I am getting cold, so I need to put on a warm jacket. This section of the Ridge is notorious for lacking a clear route through the thick scrub. We thrash around for a while, trying to find the route. With the flat ridgetop and mist, it is hard to orientate ourselves. I try to use my phone for navigation, but the rain makes it difficult.
We find a couple of random orange markers. Not much help. We head for a section of forest. Suddenly we see a major sign announcing the Scientific Research Area, and a clear ground trail. Off we go now, making fast progress in the right direction down a ridge.
Bill knows a track that turns off early and descends to Eastern Hutt. A big windfall makes the turnoff hard to find, and the lack of route marking is surprising. But soon we are on a ground trail and markers appear. We reach the track to Eastern Hutt and continue to Norbett Stream carpark, arriving at about 6.30 p.m.
A long and energetic day. A beautiful river. An interesting new spur. Navigation challenges in the thick scrub and cool rainy mist. A great day out. And Renata Forks still waiting for a visit.
- Party members
- Bill Allcock (leader), Mike Wespel-Rose (scribe).