2-3rd January 2023
Simon, Gabrielle and Robyn departed in the club van around 8am from Te Aute Road driving to the intersection of SH50 & Wakarara Road, where we met up with Murry and Dave. In two vehicles all of us drove to the end of Wakarara road end above what was once the site of Yeomans Mill. The idea being we would walk up the Makaroro River from the farm at the end of Glenny Road off Wakarara Road to Barlows Hut. If the conditions were favourable the next day and we could make good progress time wise, we’d tramp through to the Parks Peak track from Barlows Hut and back down to the site that had been Yeomans Mill. A vehicle would be left at the start & finishing locations.
With the exception of Murry & Dave, this was all new territory for the remainder of the group. The day had started fine and slightly overcast away from the ranges, but arriving at the starting location there was low cloud, occasional light showers and light winds. Forget about dry footwear, one is almost continuously crossing the river for the whole trip duration. The river may have been slightly up and some crossings were made as a combined group. The deepest crossing had the water up to our thighs. If it had been hot one could have found many good swimming holes.
While travelling along the river a special highlight was to see a family of 8 Whio (Blue ducks) feeding along the river edge only 10 metres away and unconcerned at our presence. We passed several old large slips that had come all the way down from the adjacent peaks. Another interesting site was at the start of the Colenso Spur track, climbing up a near vertical 2 metre rocky bank and going 10 metres further, one can see a brass plague inset into a rock cairn. This is in memory of William Colenso, a Cornish Christian missionary to New Zealand, and also a printer, botanist, explorer and politician, who in 1845 made his first journey to cross the Ruahine Range.
Around 3pm we see the 8 bunk Barlows Hut up on the highest of two small terraces above the true right of the river. We get there walking through the wet knee high long grass as light rain again starts to fall. Three of the group make a brief 20 minute exploration of the area close to the hut. One tries looking for the start of the Barlow Track that heads towards the Colenso Spur track and two head upstream about 50 metres to investigate the start of little used (overgrown?) track that climbs up to the Parks Peak track.
Unfortunately the light rain persisted for the remainder of the day and most of the night. So our time was spent indoors, boiling up a brew, treating ourselves to whatever food we brought in, talking of some of life’s experiences AND which way should we return, was the river going to be any higher the next day ? The next morning it was drizzly and misty. The river may have risen a fraction. It was decided to return the same way we came in. The walk in had taken about 4 1/2 hours. The track up to the Parks Peak track and out to the old Yeomans Mill site was longer and not shown on current maps. The peaks were in cloud. So a walk out that way would have been more of an unknown and best left for finer conditions.
Leaving the hut around 8am the walk out was a little quicker than the walk in. Fewer distractions? No Whio (Blue ducks) seen this time, only one deep pool of water with two trout. We returned to the club van at the Glenny road end farm, then drove back to the end of Wakarara Road above the old Yeomans mill site for lunch. There had been a possibilty of meeting some others from the tramping club out for a day walk up the Parks Peak track but their walk didn’t eventuate.
After lunch we made a brief walking excursion down the closed off road to the Makaroro river via the site of the old Yeomans Mill. Since being here on a previous trip, the pine trees that existed on the hill side had been harvested. And on the return walk back up the hill, we came across sea shells embedded in a small cliff face. Home awaited us, the closer to home the sunnier and warmer it got. Thank you for your company.
Murry A, Simon W, Gabrielle S, Dave M, Robyn W