Stoney Creek Conservation Area – 1 March 2020

A bee sting and a bad night’s sleep saw our numbers drop from 9 to 7 on this overcast Sunday morning so with Murry driving the truck we headed off along the Napier Taupo Road. We arrived at Takarere Road (which is just a few kilometers east of Tarawera), drove along it for a few kms and found a suitable parking spot not far from the DOC sign for the Stoney Creek Conservation Area.

After a false start we found a way down into Stoney Creek, which had a few log jams and was quite deep in places, and headed upstream in two groups .

Once in the Ohane Stream the going was much faster, the sun started coming out, the robins and tui were singing and all was dandy except for the odd bit of Onga Onga that reached out and grabbed a few of our members.  The forward party went up past the hot spring which it was quite smelly and obvious.  They had also come across a few hunters in the area and a  puddle of fresh blood  beside the stream showed that at least one of them was successful.

After an unsuccessful look for the spring the second party retreated back a bit and had lunch in a sunny spot before continuing downstream.  Opposite the junction of the two streams they found a good hunters’ track that took them up out of the valley to the road which they followed back to the truck.  The forward party arrived just under an hour later and once all were organised we did a quick detour to the Tarawera Cafe for an ice-cream before returning home.

Party: Murry A, Anne D, Derek B, Daniel H, Robyn P, Dale B, Glenda H

Kaimanawa Forest Park from Clement Mill Road 15-16 Feb

We arrived at the road end around quarter to 10 after an uneventful drive from Havelock North.  Here Janice, Derek and Scott booted up and with packs on back were headed along the track towards Cascade Hut just after 10.  We noted the DOC sign at the road end said 4 ½ hours to Cascade – don’t believe it!  After a quick look around the camp area the rest of us were back in the truck travelling to Army Camp for our first walk.

The only tracks shown on the topo map for this area were the Te Iringa and Cascade tracks but we were hoping to find some unmarked ones.  We were lucky at Army Camp as we found a sign for Kens track beside a little memorial for Ken Follows who, a google search suggests, was an old guy who used to live in a campervan there (he died at Tokoroa in 2016).  We followed this track for about an hour until it came to a small clearing, the other side of which we spied pine trees.  After a spell there we retraced our steps to the truck enjoying the birds and vegetation as we went.  We had a early lunch at the camp site before driving down the road to Clements Clearing which was to be our camp site for the night.  

From Clements Clearing we walked a short distance along the road to the Kaimanawa Wall. The credulous believe that this wall is evidence of an ancient New Zealand culture and that the stone wall is at least 2000 years old and was created by the first settlers of New Zealand, the Waitaha, who were subsequently nearly exterminated by the Maoris, who arrived only 800 years ago while the sceptics and DOC believe that the rock formation is part of  large ignimbrite outcrop formed naturally 330,000 years ago. The wall is not as impressive as we had imaged and we accepted the latter theory.

We then explored the frost flat area around the camp site and then, leaving Peter behind to sleep, we walked up the road to the Kakapo Camp site.  This is a lovely site with a small stream beside it but had no obvious tracks to follow so we returned to Clements Camp via the road.  The bird life in this part of the Kaimanawas was great, nearly all the usual bush birds were seen or heard as well as the Kaka and Long tailed Cuckoo. The robins posed patiently for their photos to be taken while the Kaka obediently responded to Peter’s melodic “Kaka” calls.

In the past there were a series of huts and cook houses along the road but these have long since disappeared. The beech trees in this area of the Kaimanawa were milled for fence posts and battens up until the 1970s when tanalized post became readily available.

There were a few other groups at the clearing, one group of overseas young people and the rest were hunters – all very friendly.  Around 5 we had an exhausted hunter collapse at our site with a very heavy pack full of venison that he had caught around mid day.  After recovering a bit he boiled himself a brew and had a chat with us and then Peter offered him a ride back to his car which was about 5 km up the road.  After dinner it started to rain so we had a game of Quiddler in the back of the truck before retiring for a quite night.

Sunday dawned overcast and after breakfast we drove back to the road end and started along the Hinemaiaia track to Cascade Hut.  This is a very pretty track with some areas of virgin bush, very friendly robins, a lovely stream and is mainly flat for the first hour or two. At one point there is a landbridge, Peter explored below it and found it to be a pumice cave. After walking about 2 hours we stopped for a break just short of where the track starts it’s first major climb, left a note for the Cascade party and headed back, diverting off-track to take photos of a waterfall we could hear below us and for Peter to swim in the Hinemaiaia Stream.  We had lunch back at the truck and waited for the Cascade Party to return before heading home.

Cascade Hut Party:

The track followed the Hinemaiaia stream for about 1.5 hours along cliff edges then we started to climb several steep slopes and drops using tree roots for hand and foot holds. An interesting ancient native forest showing evidence of previous logging -large tree stumps with clinging vines ferns and moss. The moss and lichen looked very dry but fine drizzle on the Sunday refreshed it a little.

After 4 hours of climbing Scott returned to a camping site by the Hinemaiaia Stream where he waited for our return on the Sunday. He was lucky enough to see a  hind come very close as it drank from the river. The next 3 hours the track was visible with plenty of summer leaf fall but we did manage to divert off the track on occasions. Careful placing of the feet was required as there were many tree roots to avoid.

Once on the “top’ there was a very long descent to the river where the Cascade Hut was only 2 minutes inland. Here we had an evening meal, breakfast then returned the same way.

Deer hunters were out this weekend so it was always good to chat about their hunting experiences.  We had the company of Kaka Fantails and one Morepork at various times over the two days. Time taken was 6 hours each way.

Party: Janice L, Derek B, Scott C, Peter B, Susan L, Anne D, Glenda H

Tutaekuri Gorge and Donald River Feb. 2nd, 2020

Beat the Heat: Do the Donald River Drift!

On what was to be the hottest day ever recorded in Napier, a group of six took off at 7 am in two cars from the HTC departure lounge in Te Aute Road. Peter and Colin were the doing the “B” plan down the Tutaekuri Gorge. Anne, Glenda, Daniel and Janice opted for the “A” plan which was a loop from the Lawrence Road End, over the swing bridge, up the trail towards Mackintosh Hut, before cutting down the Donald River, and back to the bridge on the Tutaekuri.

The wind was raging on the ridges as we started but it always seemed to be above us especially when we were walking along the river. Glenda was right, it was a great day to be criss-crossing the Donald. Spotting the first of many inviting deep pools, it was in ‘boots and all’ drifting down the current” back to the start and drifting down again. What a refreshing way to beat the heat! It was hard to keep Glenda out of any of the pools after that and you had to admit it was a great way to cool down especially before the long drag back up to the cars at the Lawrence Road end. The crystal clear, fast-flowing water did the trick for any ailments.

Coming across a small eddy, we saw a tadpole convention in the shallow water. Amongst the teeming tadpoles were a few small green frogs on the fringe and cameras were whipped out to record the moment.

The sides of the canyons were covered in plants as they soared straight up to the tree-line. At the Donald/Tutaekuri river junction, we travelled up river to see if we could spot Colin and Peter trying to prove they were just as quick as last time they did this trip 30 years ago. The only people we saw in our 5 ½ hour sojourn were a father and son carrying fishing poles. They had spent the night being blown out by the wicked winds near the ridges and had dropped down to escape.

We turned around towards the swing bridge and the parked cars up the hill. It was a fair climb back up the road. Janice found another gear and motored up the road with Daniel. Good weather, amazing scenery, great photos by Anne, strenuous at times/cruisy at others, brilliant company: just another day at the HTC office!

DH: Party: Daniel H, Janice L, Anne D, Glenda H

Gorge Party:

Colin and I set of at 8.30 and it was straight into the water, with plenty of slots and pools to cool us down. Fortunately we had picked the right day for it so we were merely cold, rather than the standard for the trip which is, bloody freezing. It is a very beautiful stretch of river, a true gorge trip and you do spend a lot of time in the water.

Eventually we got down to the two waterfalls, the first was exciting, but no real problem, but the second was just plain scary, in the finish we just jumped off on the true right hand side (never jump or swim into the white water at the base of a waterfall as the bubbles make the water less dense and you sink), Colin suggested that it was a pity that he hadn’t had his camera ready, but I was not about to climb up for a second go. After one more rapid we then came to the hot spring, which was a good temperature and flow, but is just as insalubrious as ever. We continued on down the river which was very greasy and my pack became heavier and heavier as it picked up more water, the last stretch was easier except that the others had decided to leave the car at the top , which we finally reached at 4pm.

PB: Party: Colin J and Peter B

Ahuriri Estuary Walkway 19 Jan

With the weather forecast predicting heavy rain for Lake Tutira it was decided to have a walk from Park Island, Taradale, to the Ahuriri Estuary. The group, Glenda, Susan and I left from by the dog agility area where we followed the gravel path beside the Park Island cemetery, crossing Prebensen Drive to join the Water Ride Trail. The initial northward journey is alongside a stream where we saw hawk in flight, a pied shag, a spoonbill and mallard ducks. The ducks blended well with the ground cover and a large group, adult and young, slipped quietly into the stream where they kept closely to the true left.

When the pathway reaches the Main Outfall Channel the path veers eastward and continues below the stop bank. At this point there is a hide in which to view the plentiful wildlife including; Canadian geese, spoonbill, gull, pied stilts. The info board states there are 70 species of resident and migratory waterbirds. As we continued our journey a rather picturesque vista appeared on the stop bank; in a line were the heads and necks of thirteen Canadian geese.

Our journey continued, stopping at the hide at the end of the Water Ride Trail, following the pathway under the motorway, under and up on to the old road bridge. Strategically placed at the top of the path was a seat which we took advantage of and had a snack. Our rest was ended by the rain that had been threatening. We put rain jackets on and continued across the bridge to duck back down under it and walk back in a westward direction to the ponds to the south of the airport. We then retraced our steps to the sign post at the junction of the Water Ride Trail and Main North Road to Prebensen Drive; to complete a circuit we continued alongside the Main North Road. This trail is separated from the road by a waterway, along Prebensen Drive and back around the Park Island track to the car. The walk had taken us 3 hours.

Anne D, Susan L, Glenda H

Heretaunga Tramping Club 2020 Tramps

On and near Nth Tararua Range 11-12 Jan
Ahuriri Estuary Walk 19 Jan
Tutaekuri Gorge 2 Feb
Pourere Beach 5 Feb
Clements Road Area 15-16 Feb
The Gums and Beyond 19 Feb
Stoney Creek 1 March
Barlows Loop 14-15 March
Sunrise–66–Waipawa River 29 March
Central NI Scenic (Pureora) 10-13 April
Howletts via Longview 25–27 April
Beach walk (Mangakuri sth) 10 May
Makino Hut 24 May
Waikaremoana 30 May–1 June
Wharite to Coppermine Rd 7 June

On and near the Northern Tararua Range 11-12 Jan 2020

I had spotted a new walk in the NE Tararua Range in a magazine so a year ago Peter and I checked out the first part of it and decided the Club should try it.  So on the Saturday nine of us arrived at the Naenae Road end, which is west of Pahiatua and started walking just after 9.30 AM.  The first obstacle was the Otangane Stream (which is a tributary of the Mangahoa Stream – the Mangahoa is the last major river that meets the Manawatu River before the Manawatu Gorge).  Some crossed without getting feet wet but most forwent the balancing act and only received slightly damp socks. The track is a paper road and it initially siddles around some farmland before heading up a small stream.  The track makers have spent a lot of time making steps up the edge of the stream and we slowly made our way up on them.  We had spied a friendly Kereru just before the stream but we saw other few birds during our tramp.  

After about an hour of uphill we reached the Otangane Loop Track, this track can also be accessed from the Palmerston North side via the Sledge Track at the end of the Kahuterawa Road (in behind Massey University).  The Loop Track was fairly flat but the ground was uneven and the hook grass ground cover obscured the track slowing down progress a bit.  The weather was fine, although a little windy, so there were good views to be had , at times over the Wairarapa farmland.  The last of us arrived at the turn-off to Pukenaenae Lookout (which is unmarked on the topo map but is the short side-track on the southern most section of the loop track) just before noon and those already there proclaimed that this was their turn-around point.  Most took in the view at the lookout at the end of the side-track and then settled down for lunch.  After lunch Des and Murry decided they should continue on to our original destination, the Aruwaru Trig, while the rest retraced our steps back, some forgetting to watch out for the white triangles that signalled the start of the track down and had to be called back.

The trip down was uneventful and we hadn’t been back at the truck for long when Des and Murry appeared.  They had overshot the Aruwaru track and when they did find the turn off (hidden off track) the signage there indicated the trig was over 1 hour away still so they gave up their quest and returned back to the track.

It was just a short drive from the end of Naenae Road to our accommodation for the night in an unused house on Fred’s farm at Mangamaire. Mattresses from the truck and picnic chairs that we all brought made for a most comfortable night – thanks Fred. Late afternoon the guys went with Fred to check our some natives growing in a block of trees on the property while the ladies just relaxed.  As it was only 9 km to Pahiatua we all hopped in the truck and had takeaways for dinner.

Sunday morning we were all in the truck before 8 and headed towards the Pahiatua Track and the Manawatu, our destination for the day.  We parked the truck in a posh area of Summerhill and made our way along the Turitea Walkway to Tennent Drive at the entrance of Massey University where the new shared pathway starts. An underpass took us under the busy road and then it was a walk along Old Dairy Farm Road past various research areas to the Manawatu River and a limestone pathway.  We detoured to cross the new 19 million dollar pedestrian bridge over the river, even at 9.30 in the morning there was plenty of people doing the same.  We then walked downstream along the limestone track, on our right he river and on our left mainly farmland, on a lovely sunny morning. Three more bridges and a total of about 10 kilometers since leaving the truck we arrived at Linton and the end of the track. Here my son Daniel (a Palmerston North resident) transported Peter & me back to retrieve the truck while the rest had lunch.

The last walk of the day (after a quick detour to view Fred’s Aokautere farm) was at the western end of the Manawatu Gorge – four walked the Tawa Track while the remaining five walked directly to the White Horses lookout and relaxed there. We were all in the truck again before 3 and headed homewards which included a couple of quick stops, one to view the windmills and one to view the eels at Norsewood when we dropped Murry off.  Many thanks Peter for driving for what was a great weekend.

Party: Glenda H, Peter B, Janice L, Joan R, Anne D, Murry A, Des S, Fred C and Susan L