Don Juan / Balls Clearing Kaweka Range

19 November 2022

It was a party of 4 who left Te Aute Road at 7.00 a.m. in Derek’s truck heading for Don Juan trig. The hour and a quarter journey is scenic. Derek was taken on a nostalgic trip as we drove passed the Hastings Aerodrome at Bridge Pa. We continued on to Fernhill and along Swamp Road to Puketapu and continued on to Apley Road, at the top of which we joined Puketitiri Road. At Rissington we admired the newly completed redwood memorial carving of two soldiers. 

Continuing on past Patoka to Hawkston Road (first on the left past Patoka) at Seaview Road veering left is Te Kowhai Road. Parking is at the top of the hill on Te Kowhai Road, about 200 metres passed Seaview Road. Further on is an extremely sturdy yellow forestry barrier stopping unauthorised traffic. The car park is in shaded area which was very damp and muddy. A collapsible tripod chair gave me a dry place to change into my boots. The envy of the other members of the party. 

Once we were suitably attired for our tramp we began the walk down the road. It is a leisurely ½ hour walk down to Metalpit Road; where there is a small green and yellow sign indicating the track direction. Further down the road we crossed a small stream and started our search for the track. There were no further markers since the turnoff. The area is overgrown with some very spiky shrubby bushes. We spent about ½ an hour going in varying directions. I have to admire Clint who, with her tiny gaiters, waded into a path in the midst of low growing blackberry. Her efforts were not in vain as, underfoot, she found the track sign. Fortunately Derek had some sturdy gloves on and was able to retrieve the sign from the undergrowth. Finding the sign prompted us once again to try an already attempted track. Here once again we had success, thanks to Clint.

Clint explored the uphill track and found that we were in the right place but, with the excesses of rain that have been in the Patoka area, it was extremely slippery. With that, and in deference to the fact that all four of us were to help on the Hazmobile the next day, it was decided not to continue. Our suggestion would be if this tramp is to be done again that track markers and secateurs would be of benefit. So we returned back to Derek’s truck. Having only been on a two hour excursion we decided to continue up to Balls Clearing. As we had only been on the shorter track; we took the Ramages Track. About ten minutes on the track we came across a massive area of trees down across the track which we were able to negotiate. Another five minutes and we were out at the fence line which we continued along until we rejoined the track back through the bush.

This is a very fine piece of bush and it was great to have time to enjoy it more fully. On completion of the track we sat at one of the shelters, back at the roadside, and had our lunch. With lunch eaten we decided to have a look at the bush at Hutchinson Reserve but we were unable to locate access to it. Perhaps we needed to go through the sport’s ground. As the Hazmobile was the next day and we had run out of known (to us) options we returned to Te Aute Road and were back by 2.00 p.m.

Party: Derek B, Nic W, Clint B, Anne D.

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