Catchment scrambles SF
Wednesday 31 May 2023
A rising Ōrongorongo River forced leader Janette Roberts to seek a plan B.
One that seemed to tick all the right boxes (short drive, less familiar territory, excellent bush)1 was a loop in the Wainuiomata Water Catchment including Puketahā (767m) at the head of Sinclair Creek.
About 1.5 km beyond the telephone-activated barrier arm at the catchment entrance there is a padlocked gate2. We left our cars there and walked another two km into the park before entering the bush along a trapping route which climbed onto the western watershed spur of Sinclair Creek. Good travel to the main ridge where we detoured east about 200m to conquer Puketahā: pipe but no views. Return and then southwest into the shallow saddle that leads to .800 on the East Whakanui Track. Near the bottom of the saddle, we found the longstanding, well-marked catchment track had been obliterated by, presumably, massive amounts of windfall, none of it particularly recent. Progress was slow through areas of dense scrub and long grass booby-trapped with lawyer and windfall. Occasionally we stumbled across a marker or DoC trap but a footpad there was not. Progress slowed to 10 minutes per 100 metres in some places.
It took about five and a half hours to reach the Bridle Track3; plans to proceed over .800 and exit via Solomons Track were ditched and we moved off down the Track. Afternoon tea at the tunnel entrance, then out down the sealed road.
Destruction by treefall of one of the bridges on this road perhaps explained the somewhat unkempt condition of the Bridle Track, as motorised access to its start would not be possible.
1 It turned out there were a lot of other boxes to tick: name, address and telephone number of all those on the trip, medications any trip members might be on, car details, plans for response to any emergency, electronic sign-in and sign-out … all part of satisfying Catchment Health and Safety requirements.
2 To drive beyond this point, cars must pass through a washing bay which is intended to remove unwelcome hitchhikers such as myrtle rust spores.
3 This track, also called the Pack Track, runs between the head of George Creek and the Ōrongorongo Weir; it crosses the ridge at about 760m asl.
- Party members
- Janette Roberts (leader), Colin Cook (scribe), Susan Guscott, Jenny Mason, David McNabb, Lynne White.