We drove to the old Yeoman’s Mill site, about a 90 minute drive from Hastings, turning off Highway 50 and following the Wakarara Road to its end. We then drove down the farm track to the Makaroro River. The mill was a thriving native timber milling community in the 1920’s for 25 years. Longtime Club members remember there being numerous buildings at the site in the 1970s. Now there is only the remains of a boiler left.
We followed the shingle riverbed up-stream for about an hour to where Gold Creek intersects on the true right, heralding two tracks, Gold Creek Ridge Track and Sparrowhawk Track, and had our first stop for the day. Our second stop was shortly before the start of the Colenso Spur track and when we got to this track 3 of us climbed up it a short way to view the stone cairn which has a plaque attachedto commemorate missionary William Colenso’s journeys. His first trip was made in February, 1845.
In the next hour, there are hillsides of large kowhai trees which would be colourful in spring time while mixed forests of beech and podocarp inhabit both sides of the narrowing river bed. Recent and past storm damage has led to erosion slashes on the steeper hillsides. This erosion leads to a massive amount of varying sized shingle in the riverbed.
There were 44 crossings (Deby counted them) , but in these very low flow conditions most were no deeper than mid-calf, deeper pools could be avoided by scrambling over the rocks on the true left edge in a few places. The orange roof of the hut and the large orange triangle marker was sighted just on mid-day. Barlow Hut was built in 1983 by the Forest Service and is named after early settlers, the Barlow family. It is a Lockwood-designed standard 8 bunk hut which is well-appointed with a wood burner, platform bunks, water from the nearby stream, an attached wood shed and outside long drop.
No-one was interested in the two alternative routes back; one a steep 350 metre climb up the Barlow track to meet the Colenso Spur track before descending past the cairn to the river while the other climbs approximately 600 metres to the Parks Peak track where a right-hand turn would eventually lead back to Yeoman’s mill. Instead we all headed back down river to the mill site, some stopping to swim in a lovely deep clear pool.
GWH & DH
Party: Deby M, Paula K, Susan L, Anne D, Glenda H, Peter B , Daniel H, Derek B