Ōtaki Gorge Road closure barrier – Waiotauru Forks MF
Wednesday 28 September
We met Karen off the train from Wellington at Waikanae, and within an hour had carried our bikes over the safely-established track that currently crosses the massive slip blocking the Ōtaki Forks road. Cycling to the road end for our day's tramping adventure was an experiment in access awareness. We locked the bikes, out of sight, to trees.
About fifteen minutes along the Waiotauru Track we came to the first challenge – an incised stream with a fixed rope assisting access. Weather events continue to refigure the stream / slip; the exit out of the gut of the stream on this day was completely changed from a previous club trip in late summer.
Along the track, just past the historic mill site mechanical relics, we encountered a significant daffodil display, another remnant from the logging community that existed in the Ōtaki Forks area in the early twentieth century.
About half an hour further along the track we were required to follow a DoC-established, scrambly detour around three close-together, steep slips. Beyond that interruption, the track to the forks was in good condition.
At Waiotauru Forks, water bottles were topped up and a decision was made to explore an overgrown logging road, about two hundred metres back along the track, in the hope it would assist travel up to the ridge top to the west. The first hundred metres were promising but alas ... steeply up was the only option – scrambling through a tangle of kiekie and supplejack. After about one hundred and fifty metres of vertical challenge, the terrain and vegetation became kinder, and the final section up was on another former logging road. Lunch in the sun on point 472 was a welcome reward.
Travel along the ridge on a slightly east-of-north bearing was very comfortable, compared with our late-morning's efforts. However, vigilance was required as there were numerous remnant bulldozed roads tempting the unwary. In the flat area where the ridge crest makes a north-west turn towards point 692, three sets of focused eyes ensured we did not stray off course. A drink break at point 692 and then we were making our way through the final navigational challenge of the day - scrubby regrowth that obscured the animal track / footpad.
There was a sense of relaxation when we met the Pukeatua Track / Te Araroa Track – all we had to do was concentrate on foot placement back to the bikes.
Our return ride to the car was ten minutes quicker than the morning ride (25 v 35 minutes). The expected 'trudge time' for an MF day-trip party, from barrier to road end is an hour (+/-) one way - so about an hour saved by cycling. Our day's adventure in comfortable weather took 9 ¼ hours.
- Party members
- Bill Allcock (scribe), Karen Baker, Tricia French.