Not Ruahine – A Blue Range Loop
4-5 Dec 2022
I’d planned a trip traversing the Ruahine tops, but the forecast was for unrelenting westerly gales so instead we decided on an overnighter below the bushline on Blue Range. Traffic delays scuppered my idea of a fast start and it was 10.30 before we set out across farmland up the Ruamahanga. We passed a very comfortable private hut on the bush edge and from there followed a 4WD track through regenerating bush. At the top of a climbing sidle a tiny bit of pink plastic marked the start of our route to the range.
We climbed through tall manuka forest where cattle had opened up a mostly decent route. A few open patches gave views and excuses for stops. The spur steepens and narrows into the beech forest and the going got harder but eventually we reached our lunch spot near .915. After a break we set out along the crest of Blue Range. The sun shone, the bush was pretty, the going was easy, there was not a single piece of plastic track marking – what more could we wish for? Actually we were hoping for a scrub – free route to the hut as the mapped vegetation gave us some reason to be concerned, but after climbing steeply and avoiding a few patches of dracophyllum we popped out onto a helipad! Ten minutes later we were enjoying tea in Blue Range Hut and watching northwesterly clouds stream across Cattle Ridge.
The next morning we followed the DoC track under Te Mara and along the ridge. Where the track dropped to the Waingawa, we left it and headed down the long bumpy spur to the Ruamahanga River. Like the day before, the travel was good and the route almost completely unmarked. Even the main track up the river was so unused that for a while I mistook it for a deer trail! We stopped for a break at the large creek draining Blue Range, where the rugged rocks contrasted with the delicacy of the flowers growing in the creek bed. Eventually we passed the point from which we had climbed and were soon back on the farmland. On the way in we had followed orange markers climbing around a spur high above the river. Some of us remembered that this had once been the route of last resort – it was much better to descend to the river bed, cross over and back, and then climb out. Farm tracks down to the river were marked on our map, so we decided to give it a go. We should perhaps have reconsidered when the first gate fell off its hinges when we unlatched it, but we pushed on down through long grass and minor slips. The river scenery was great, but the first crossing was bouldery and awkward, the second a shorts-wetter, and the track up full of long grass and blackberry. Not a route to be recommended anymore!!
- Party members
- Karen Baker, Jenny Mason (scribe), Janette Roberts, Lynne White.