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Trip Reports 2024-02-10-Tauwharenīkau Gorge

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Marie Henderson. Photo: Mark Edwards
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L – R: Kobus, Illona, Marie, Sarah, Paul, Franz, Mark
Photo: Mark Edwards.

This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper Volume 96 No.2 March 2024

Tauwharenīkau Gorge

10 February 2024

You can tell you’re doing something right when two Tongue and Meats turn up on your trip. Not just rank and file Tongue and Meats either – Marie and Illona are feted WTMC royalty and so we rolled out the red carpet. Meanwhile, Tim had caught wind of plans and hitched a ride from Wellington for his solo mission in the valley.

Franz secured his wife’s battered seven-seater which was deposited at the Featherston road-end by Paul and Franz. The rest of us sauntered over to Smiths Creek Shelter from Kaitoke, anticipating an extended morning tea. We’d barely broached the pizza, hard-boiled eggs and political debate before Paul and Franz came crashing in. They’d taken my instructions on the run sheet seriously – ‘Paul and Franz, go like the clappers to catch us’.

So the various river costumes were donned. Combinations of stripey and fluoro thermals, neoprene in all shapes and lengths, a variety of hats and footwear (including Franz’s sandals).

Reaching the river, we launched in – full immersion. Before lunch there was a lot of swimming – interspersed with scrambles along the bank. It’s not a steep river and the pools are still and deep in the spectacular gorge-like sections. Most of the time we had the assistance of a bit of downstream flow and the northerly gusting behind us.

Fifteen minutes in, Marie issued a sharp halt on her whistle – Kobus had been lagging and needed to adjust his costume. He later explained he was developing a painful injury that was difficult to talk about. He ditched his groin-hugging wetsuit in favour of some baggy shorts and his smile returned.

I have never been on a trip where the speed of travel of seven participants was so compatible. Especially not a river trip. The Tongue and Meats were showing what they were made of. They whooped and hollered, surfing the rapids and speedily rock-hopping the banks. We Tararuas managed to keep up, more or less.

At lunch Illona produced a large bag of home-made chocolate chunk cookies, and Marie handed them round. We’ll keep these guys on. Chocolate is the best when you’re river-chilled!

Then before we knew it we were at the climb-out point, heading along the track to Bucks Rd campsite and blackberry foraging. Thanks to our speedy companions we even managed to be within coo-ee of Merv’s time for the Tauwharenīkau Gorge (Tararua Footprints). We were four hours in the river, including the time taken for Kobus’s adjustments and lunch.

Party members
The river rats: Sarah White (leader and scribe), Kobus Boshoff, Mark Edwards, Marie Henderson, Franz Hubmann, Illona Keenan, Paul McCredie. Hitch-hiker: Tim Stone

Page last modified on 2024 Mar 02 07:46

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