Happy Daze and Makaretu Huts

Sunday 9th January 2022

The access to this tramp was across farmed river terraces on the northern side of the Makaretu river off Pagets Road in the Ashley-Clinton district. All members of the party were required to sign Health & Safety documents for each of the two property owners whose land we would cross. Fortunately Murry had a vehicle that could take all of us and our gear from the Pagets Road entrance to starting point about 1.5 Km away. A small creek, number of gates, cattle and sheep had to be negotiated.

From the starting point, a 4wd track leads down to the Makaretu river and upstream to a track that exits on the southern side of the river. The track then siddles exposed grassy hillsides weaving its way towards more & more bush, creeks, private huts and past an old Fordson tractor. The grassy hillsides give great views of the lower hill ranges to the west. Rocky Knob and the ridge south of Longview hut were on the horizon.

The day was fine, I’m guessing around 26 degrees with gusty northwest winds blowing clouds across the tops. This made for a hasty walk past three fly blown hares strung up by the ears on barbed wire fence. Arriving at the Happy Daze, 4 bunk hut about 10:30am, an hour after starting and a less than strenuos walk, it was time for a late morning tea. The hut sits on the edge of the bush on grassy down hill slope which leads to the Makaretu river. The hut book indicated not a lot of use, but over holiday period a HTC member from Danniverke had been staying.

Sitting under the overhanging hut door roof and the shade of a nearby tree, somebody pipes up, surely there must be more tramping we could do. We can’t be sitting here all day. How about the Makaretu hut upstream ? Maybe it’s 1.5 – 2 hours walking up the river. Back tracking from the Happy Daze a couple of minutes, is a track that siddles through the bush to the river. However it’s over grown, with makers hidden or fallen. The result is 10 minutes exploring supposed tracks until we stumble on the correct track leading steeply to the river. This track is not marked on current topograhic maps, but has DOC sign/marker at the river bank and comes out very close to the intersection of the South & North branches of the Makaretu river.

Once in the river bed, the south branch of the river weaves and climbs amongst steep bush hill sides. The waters warm. The water flow is not excessive and hill sides stop the sun from shining on us. We pass deep pools of clear water along rock faces, small waterfalls and dripping water over rock faces. The path upstream is mostly in the water with occasional detours along or through the bush to bypass bends in the river. And it wouldn’t be this easy in bad weather conditions. Coming closer to the Makaretu hut is an apparent fork in the river or is it ? The map says we need to be heading upstream on the “True Right” at a fork in the river. As it turns out the river has flowed either side of a piece of bush and the river upstream is not viewable from either side of the fork in the river. We stuck to the “True Right”. A reminder that where you find yourself is not necessarily the place you think your at on the map !

Track up to Happy Daze

Arriving just after 1pm at the Makaretu Hut, it’s a welcome stop for lunch and a sit-down in the shade under the overhanging roof at the hut entrance. The hut is clean & tidy and could sleep at least 6, maybe 2 more at a squeeze. There’s also space outside for some tents on a small grassy area. Infrequently we experience gale force North Wester winds down in the valley at the hut. If this is happening here, what’s it like up at Longview Hut ? It’s 2pm and time to retrace our steps downstream, in fact going all the way downstream to where our day tramp began. Passing our entry point to the South Branch of the Makaretu, we see a “Happy Daze” hand carved sign suspended from tree branch along with suspended rocks pointing uphill. This leads straight up the hill to the hut.

Further down stream we’re still criss crossing the river and come across more deep pools of water. There’s even some decent size trout which some us blokes thought we might be able to catch. But they remain elusive, swimming as if there life depended on it, skirting our legs and sticks as we stand knee deep in the river. What a great day out. Our feet have become a bit tender having walked over so many riverbed stones. One last small climb up a 4wd farm track from the river and we’re back at Murry’s vehicle just after 5pm. Thank you one & all for your company. Party: Susan L, Anne D, Graeme H, Murry A, Simon W.

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