An attempt to ascend Maungahuka Stream
April 22-25 2022
Raining on Thursday night. Waiohine up to 198 cumecs. We’ll obviously have to cancel… But wait… Friday morning, it’s dropped a long way. Let’s go up to Powell tonight and decide on Saturday morning. A sunny morning and it’s down to 14. We had crossed it at 13 on a previous trip so off we went, down along High Ridge with its mossy forest, past Flaxy Knob and pt 814, then down to the Waiohine through the bush along the southern edge of the slip just below Muir Creek. Picked a spot to cross the Waiohine, then up onto a TR bush terrace to dodge the next pool before stopping for lunch on the riverbank where Maungahuka Stream joins it. The ‘bad gorge’ starts not far below here.
I had wanted to try ascending Maungahuka Stream for some time. Didn’t the crashed airmen who were rescued many years ago, by John Gates and friends on an early gorge trip, come down here somewhere? Maybe it would be good travel? Well, it wasn’t that good on this particular day. The stream was still up a bit, with lots of small waterfalls and clambering and a couple of awkward sidles. It was taking too long, so after only about 300 metres, when we reached a deep green pool fed by a hidden cascade, we gave up on stream travel and headed straight up the nearest TR spur. This gave fairly good travel and eventually we reached Concertina Knob and the track. The tops had disappeared under cloud and the afternoon was marching on. We got the torches out about half an hour before reaching Maungahuka Hut, which we shared with several others.
In the morning we headed down Tarahanga Spur (also known as Meatsafe Spur from deer-culling days). Still in the mist, we didn’t get any views of the Tararua Peaks – which are apparently pretty spectacular from this angle. Past the tarn and along the pleasant narrow tussock ridge crest till just past point 1068. From there we followed the southeast spur down to the Hector River. Mostly good bush travel, but the GPS was very helpful partway down where the spur turns into a face for a while.
The Hector River was higher than expected and it took us an hour to descend the kilometre to Neill Forks Hut. We had already decided to abandon our plan of descending the lower Hector and Waiohine to Totara Flats. The rivers were too high and we’d learned our lesson from last time, so the wetsuits stayed in our packs.
After lunch in the sun at the hut we joined the track up over Cone Ridge. Got a nice view of the Tararua Peaks after all, looming above Tarahanga Spur. Then down to Totara Flats Hut for the night. Back to the car at Holdsworth on Monday morning to end an interesting trip. The rest of Maungahuka Stream will keep, possibly for a very long time.
- Party members
- Franz Hubmann (scribe), Paul McCredie.