Blue Range – Cow Creek – Arete Forks
6 – 9 November 2022
An enticing four-day weather forecast combined with the flexibility of superannuitant life resulted in a rewarding adventure that did not see a parka worn in anger.
At about eleven o'clock we departed the Kiriwhakapapa road end and two hours later were lunching at Blue Range Hut. Late afternoon we arrived via the main track at Cow Creek Hut and persisted with dampish wood to get the fire box warming. A short time later three TTC members arrived (Diana Munster, Jenny Mason, John Dement). ‘We smelled the smoke while on the bridge’. A pleasant evening was spent sharing tramping minutiae.
Next morning Diana, Jenny and John departed for the road end – just an overnight trip for them. We headed for Arete Forks via the sidle track that had been cleared in August by ex-New Zealand Forest Service workers, who are now associated with the New Zealand Backcountry Trust. This sidle track remains a challenge – there are very few sections that allow a tramper to get any sort of rhythm.
Arete Forks Hut has been restored by teams of ex-NZFS volunteers. It is currently in pristine shape, emulating its state when it was constructed about fifty years ago (with open fire and tangerine exterior paint). Arete Forks Hut and Cow Creek Hut are two of many huts in Tararua Forest Park that have been upgraded, and are maintained, by ex-NZFS volunteers through an agreement with DoC.
Our third morning was a blue dome gem. From the hut we went up the spur that rises east of south to point 1478 on Table Ridge. From that vantage point we were treated to a pristine tops vista encompassing the two basins that drain the territory from Mitre around to Waingawa. By the time we reached point 1390 on Table Ridge there was significant cloud cover and a chilling breeze had developed. Travel along the ridge was facilitated by regularly placed cairns. From the bush edge we followed the spur that wends its way in a north east direction down to Cow Creek Hut. The route down/up the spur below the bush edge is marked with orange DoC triangles.
Another night was spent at Cow Creek Hut, the comfort level enhanced by a warm fire box. The morning of day four saw us follow the marked route up Cow Creek to Cow Saddle – a route that has been cleared of obstructing vegetation. Currently, the route from the saddle over points 810, 890 and 970 to the main Cow Creek Track is cleared only to about point 810.
After lunch in the sun on the north slope of Te Mara, we made our way comfortably down to the car. The four dry-boot days in an area of the park not recently visited by club members exposed us to the grandeur and challenges to be experienced once beyond the entry-level routes of Tararua Forest Park.
- Party members
- Bill Allcock (scribe) & Tricia French.