Ferny Ridge and Black Birch Bivy

7 January

It had been 5 years since the club had tramped the Ferny Ridge. With memories of veering off the track on the descent to the stream; we were armed with Simon’s map, Clint’s GPS, Glenda’s GPS tracking from 2018, topo Map BJ37 and Nic’s cell phone topo app. Confidently we set off along a narrow track, well maintained by Save our Kaweka Kiwi, which gently sidled the hills contours. 

Alas when we came to a perimeter fence, which bordered farmland, we no longer had a clear track. A discussion was held and we retraced our steps with Nic leading to where we had passed a turn off. On investigating this track once again there was no clear path; we retraced our steps to the fence line in case we had missed the path. Once back at the fence line we had not missed a track and with no permission to enter the farmland it was decided to return to the van and head for Black Ridge Bivy. 

We accessed Black Birch Bivy from Little’s Clearing on a track which was commented upon as being a 4 lane highway. This track heads through varying vegetation; initially a beech forest, once over an unnamed stream it is up to a swampy tussock area, regenerating manuka, wilding pines and dying pines (which have been sprayed) There is a programme, from December 2023 to May 2024, in place to spray and wand more of them. While passing through the tussock area and regenerating manuka we pulled wilding pines but gave up once we came upon the large areas of pines.

It is a relatively short walk into the bivy; the sign post at the car park said 1 1/2 hours. For the timekeepers in the party we were short of that time by 10 minutes.  Oh my, the bivy looks wonderful with its bright orange paint, new deck and water tank. It is a good sized deck with room for all of the party to have lunch.

On returning to the van it was decided to drive up to Makahu Saddle to show Lindsay and Denise the start of the track to Kaweka J. For a day in which the tops were shrouded in cloud there were numerous cars in the car park. On the way out a stop off at the lookout was marred by one of the party being stung by a bee from one of the hives to the side of the car park.

The drive to and from the area allowed us to see the devastation caused by cyclone Gabrielle. On the Puketapu side of the Mangaone River, which is now crossed by a bailey bridge with the old historic and newly repaired bridge washed away in the flooding, there are houses with silt up to the eaves of the houses. Very sobering!

It was a short but very enjoyable day; with us being back at Pukahu by 4.00 p.m. (Some of our intrepid trampers feel they’d like to return to the area and seek out a route to high point 909.)

Party: Steve B, Nic W, Janice L, Robyn W, Simon W, Denise and Lindsay D, Anne D

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