A bit of bush bashing SF
Wednesday 4 January 2023
One aim of this trip was to take in the dramatic views of the northeast Tararua Range1. However, we were thwarted by thick cloud shrouding the tops - and also occasionally challenged by the going, quite ‘bashful’ in places.
The trip began poorly, the leader missing the sign about 500 m along Roaring Stag Track that indicates the start of public access land and so missing his chosen spur: just within the Forest Park and just beyond where a small side stream joins the Mangatainoka2. However, the spur we ended up on provided reasonable travel - until just below .835 where leatherwood and dracophyllum took over. Bush bashing got us on to the ridge where we found an old ground trail, presumably the one from Kaiparoro 808 shown on a 1958 third edition map of the Tararua Range3. This trail persisted in parts, but travel was slow4 and it took about four and a half hours to travel from the road end to bump 858, a rocky top offering 360° viewing.
Bump 858 proved to be home to some angry red ants which left their mark - also angry red - on one party member. Views took time to absorb: Haukura Ridge descending from a cloud-enveloped East Peak, the Ruamāhanga gorge with high spurs entering on its true left, allowing one to imagine Chamberlain Creek, Dome, Pukemoremore, Logan and Dundas; Cattle Ridge with cloud brushing its crest. Perhaps Mitre, far to the south.
From .858 the route was briefly west, south, and west again until, at about 800 m asl, we expected to join an old Forest Service track6 which follows ridge lines to join Roaring Stag Track near .713. Descending off .858, the initially low scrub was suddenly over our heads and we pushed and shoved and bashed our way perhaps 100 m through leatherwood and dracophyllum, straining to reach the cover of larger trees. Further on, the Forest Service track was sometimes evident but careful navigation was needed to stay on route. Along the way we dealt with an accidentally activated PLB (see Joan’s article on pages 4 and 5).
1 Pity about the long drive – over two hours from Wellington! Hearty thanks to our driver, David M. The return trip was broken with a meal from a fish and chip shop in Carterton.
2 At least one party member did notice the sign, partially destroyed by recent slips. Note to leader: inform party members of travel plans; the more eyes on the lookout for points of significance the better.
3 Thanks to David O for this information.
4 No doubt the leader’s slow recovery from Covid bears most of the blame for this glacial pace.
5 Bump 858 had been visited by two of us (DM and CC) on a February 2012 trip over Kaiparoro 808 m and led by the late Neil Challands. Somehow, I had retained an impression of easy travel!
6 Thanks to Robin for this information.
- Party members
- Joan Basher, Robin Chesterfield, Colin Cook (leader and scribe), David McNabb, David Ogilvie