Pigeon Bush from the top S/F
Wednesday 5 July 2023
We entered Pigeon Bush Reserve from State Highway 2, about 1.7-1.8 km from the road summit on the Featherston side1. An initial scramble soon morphs into a well-cut track up to the ridgeline, providing quick access to the upper reaches of the reserve2. We went a short distance along the ridgeline track, then turned southish down the reserve’s western boundary track, seeking a convenient entrance into Prince Stream headwaters. Our aim was to descend the stream to a waterfall3 near some forks as shown on the accompanying map.
On the way down the stream, we encountered several ‘mini-gorges’; one had a drop big enough to induce Mike to reach for his rope which, with judicious placement of rear ends, got us all down safely. The waterfall comprises two drops, of perhaps 10 and 3 metres; the upper, larger drop launches from a small steep-sided basin. A steep climb out on the true left led to a steep but traversable drop into another watercourse and we had our bypass! The accompanying figure shows 1m contours superimposed on topo50 20m contours. The stream beds stand out clearly enough (the one on the right is not blue-lined on the topo50 map) but the waterfall is not really evident. The GPS trace jumps around erratically since not many satellites would have been visible from the narrow gullies we were in, making position measurements quite imprecise.
From the forks we climbed WNW up a short spur leading to the western boundary track. After a steep, scrappy start this spur provides good travel. Scrub and gorse at the spur top can be avoided by sidling SE at about the 350m contour to reach the boundary track as it passes through a major saddle, elevation about 370m4.
A 250m climb brought us back to the ridgeline track and thence back to the road after a cautious final descent, taking care to stay well away from the edge above the road so as not to dislodge any rocks.
Thanks to John Thomson for help in preparing this report.
1 Look out for a barrier system pushed up against the hillside to prevent rocks rolling onto the road. Coming from Wellington, cars must execute a U-turn on the highway to park on the south side of the road. Once turned, there is ample berm for safe parking.
2 The route was established by Robin Chesterfield and the writer; it was improved by professional track cutters who used it to access higher ground in the northwest of the reserve where they were cutting new tracks.
3 On earlier trips in the area this waterfall had been a barrier to passage along the stream. We hoped to find a bypass.
4 We went too high and found ourselves sidling through steep, densely wooded terrain.
- Party members
- Colin Cook (leader and scribe), Bill Allcock, Tim Stone, Mike Wespel-Rose.