South Mangaone Road end – Ōtaki Gorge Road end
Wednesday 29 March 2023
As we departed the South Mangaone Road end with rain jackets on, we were hopeful that we would not be soaked through by the end of our journey. There was a wall of showery whiteness to the south, driven by what the Norwegian weather site yr.no described as a 'moderate gale' from the south. We were experiencing the blow-through, as the sky above us was mostly clear.
Our day's journey was a straight-forward walk along a section of Te Araroa Trail. As we were warming up ascending towards point 422, the showers stopped and jackets came off. When the terrain became less steep and the force of the southerly penetrated the forest cover, we put jackets and gloves back on. The jackets remained on until the end of the trip.
At Pukeatua we walked out of the bush to the familiar Tararua Range vista of swirling light grey mist, with no hint of the presence of Kapakapanui to the southwest. At this point the trail makes a significant direction change to the north. Concomitantly, the clouds began to disperse and we had spells of warm sun through the trees. We took advantage of one to have lunch.
Further along the ridge, when we came out of the forest into patchy grass / manuka sections. Care was required following the footpad as there had been profuse vegetative growth over the summer and at times we had to stop and confirm our correct direction. At one of the higher grassy openings we were able to see as far as Judd Ridge – there was a dusting of snow on Dennan and significant snow on Bridge Peak.
After descending from the ridge, the road-walk back to the road end was assisted by the still-significant southerly at our backs. We stopped for a drink at the picnic site at the Waiotauru River bridge, where DoC has constructed a cooking shelter. Most of the picnic area has been mowed and it is now as much a camping site as a picnic site.
Just after crossing the Roaring Meg (Pukeatua Stream) bridge we encountered Mrs Campbell (resident of The Gate). She was on her way to check one of her trap lines. She informed us that she monitored / maintained four trap lines (supported by a KCDC grant). We stopped at the Campbell's drink stand for a cup of spring water and then it was a straight-forward crossing of the slip causing the road closure, and back to the road blockade.
Car to car took us a comfortable 7 ½ hours. It was a wintery but enjoyable autumn day in late March. We were grateful to Tricia French for shuttle driving, to facilitate the journey.
- Party members
- Bill Allcock (leader and scribe), Peter Law (non-member)