Whakanui Creek Headwaters S/F
Wednesday 27 April 2022
Back in January, I led a medium Saturday tramp into the headwaters of Whakanui Creek, intended to satisfy the leader’s curiosity about the Whakanui Stream (WS) trap line. The start of this trap line is marked with a pink triangle on the East Whakanui Track at about the 700 m contour, east of pt 800. I was aware that it had been abandoned due to safety concerns but was still marked as far as trap WS4 about three-quarters of the way down, and that the trap line follows a spur south towards the creek before deviating to the west of the spur near WS4 for the final descent to the creek. We were able to follow markers as far as WS4, then took, more or less, a compass bearing towards where I knew trap WS5 to be. I must thank the rest of the group for their patience with my determination not to follow the spur all the way down. Trap WS5 was located and the trap line was again marked for the final very steep descent into Whakanui Creek. We went downstream a short distance before following a tributary upstream to a waterfall, then climbed out to the Old Whakanui Track before returning to the start via the Whakanui Track. The trip took us eight and a half hours.
For the Wednesday SF tramp, my plan had been to follow the same route to the creek before continuing further downstream and climbing out via a spur to be determined by the time available. But given that the M trip took eight and a half hours, I decided to re-run the original trip as an SF grade, this time following the spur from the East Whakanui Track all the way down to the creek.
On the Wednesday tramp, a group of seven of us set off from Hine Road in fine conditions, with a southerly change and showers forecast for the middle of the day. We started by following the Old Whakanui Track up from Nikau Creek to the East Whakanui Track as far as the 700 m contour, stopping to enjoy morning tea in the sunny clearing at the saddle. As previously, we followed the WS trap line down the spur to WS4, but this time continued down the spur in a more southerly direction. The spur was a little indistinct at times and finished with a very steep descent to the creek. At the toe of the spur, the west side appeared to offer the best route down and we were able to drop safely into the creek by hanging onto the trees and lowering ourselves in.
At this point, we discovered why the WS trap line did not follow the spur all the way down. We were confronted by a small waterfall with a deep pool at its base, necessitating a difficult sidle along a narrow ledge on the true right across a very steep face. There were plenty of trees to hang onto, but when the ledge ran out the final drop into the creek was challenging, almost vertical for several metres with not much to hang on to. Nevertheless, we all made it safely into the creek and reached the point where the WS trap line emerges.
From here we enjoyed, for a short distance, the walk down a particularly attractive section of Whakanui Creek with no significant obstacles, and then went up the tributary to the waterfall (marked on the topo map) where we had lunch.
After lunch, we did the relatively easy sidle on the true left to the top of the waterfall, from where we made the 240 m ascent on the true right following a well-used route straight up to the Old Whakanui Track. We then followed a lightly marked route to the Whakanui Track and along it back to Hine Road.
The forecast southerly arrived after lunch and brought only a few brief showers.
Total time taken was just under seven and a half hours, covering 12 km.
- Party members
- Karen Baker, Tim Baxter, Lois Buckrell, Tricia French, David McNabb (leader and scribe), Wayne Perkins, Mike Wespel-Rose