Aircraft Crash Site near Mick M
Saturday 5 March 2022
The aim of this trip was to locate the site of the February 1946 Lockheed Ventura aircraft crash1. The site is known to be near the Mick Track in the Waitohu Valley and indeed has been visited by countless trampers over the years, including some members of the current party! But doubts had arisen. Proximity of the track to the crash site was once well signalled by a piece of wreckage placed alongside the track, but it was not sighted on a November 2021 trip. (Our party found windfall had led to minor track displacement and the piece could easily be missed2).
The crash area may be reached as follows. At about 700 m asl the track begins to climb steeply. Parallel to the track, and on its right (going up), lies the trunk of a long-ago fallen tree. Clamber across this log and a well-worn trail can be discerned; it soon leads to a large piece of wreckage3. Much more wreckage, including engine remains, can be found by scouting further across the face4.
The trip took place in fine, sunny, windless conditions. Nonetheless, boggy stretches of track along the valley floor were still very much in evidence. Climbing out of the valley, the track follows old forestry routes to above 600 m asl. There was some excitement at the road end at the start when it was found the traditional access to the valley was sealed off; the matter of access is treated fully elsewhere in this issue. Thanks to Dave Reynolds for assistance with transport.
1Parawai Tramping Club website parawaitc provides an excellent historical account of this and other aircraft crashes in the Tararuas. However, the crash location is not given. Our thanks to PTC Vice-President Steve Hudson for sharing what he knew about the site with us. 2 A small part of this piece was shifted back onto the current track. 3 The three waypoints (two are almost completely overlapping) shown on the zoom topo were all recorded at the position of this piece of wreckage. Roughly only half the sky was visible from the crash site, so the GPSs were not expected to be particularly accurate. 4 The somewhat pixelated zoom topo shows as black dashes the track of David as he scouted the crash site looking at different pieces. The red dots show the Mick Track, slightly displaced from its position marked on the map.
- Party members
- Colin Cook (leader and scribe), Russell Cooke, Theresa Davies, David McNabb, Sieny Pollard, Janette Roberts, Tim Stone.