A series of short walks that showcased a variety of terrain, significant ecosystems and historical sites on the western side of the Tararua Range prompted this trip by a group of six from Masterton Tramping Club. After a light frost in Masterton the temperature was to rise to 19 degrees. With some reluctance we headed toward the Paremata-Plimmerton coast where the maximum for the day was set to just 14 degrees. Just over the Remutaka Summit we parked our vehicles and started up Te Ara Tirohanga, the short zig-zag climb to the Trig at 725 m elevation. The climb of 180 metres switches back and forth through the slowly regenerating bush before breaking out to the rocky outcrop upon which stands the trig. With barely a breeze noticeable at the carpark the strength of the wind at the trig was an unpleasant contrast. Stopping long enough to take in the views the party retreated back to the carpark for the half hour drive to Pauatahanui Village. Here we wandered the boardwalks of the Pauatahanui Wildlife Management Reserve, a unique transition of continuous vegetation from tidal flats to coastal forest. Restorative planting and careful management seeks to protect the habitats and breeding grounds of over twenty species of resident and migratory birds. With the expertise of our guide Hamish, we identified (and tasted) many of the coastal plants as well as shrubs and trees that symbiotically ensure a habitat that feeds and shelters various bird species, many of which are endangered. Our next stop was Taua Tapu Track whicht runs north-south from Plimmerton toward Pukerua Bay. Areas of marginal farmland are being planted with manuka and other coastal native varieties amidst the lifestyle blocks that dot the landscape. From the Taua Tapu Track the views are stunning, especially toward the south, overlooking Mana Island and Cook Strait. Stopping near the Trig for lunch we hunkered down for shelter from the cool breeze to eat lunch before retracing steps back to our vehicles. Ngatitoa Domain at the channel entrance of Porirua Harbour was our last stop. Here we viewed the remains of barracks that were part of the historic Fort Paremata. Built by order of Governor George Grey from 1846 the Paremata Barracks housed troops whose orders were to disrupt the flow of supply and reinforcement of Maori travelling the coastal route in and out of Wellington. The stockaded area was used by troops until 1852. However the barracks were damaged beyond repair by an earthquake in 1848. Following a short walk along the domain, alive with family activities and motorhome campers, we drove around the Paremata road to the ever-changing junction at Pauatahanui where the Transmission Gulley Motorway is taking shape. Then back to the sunny and warm Wairarapa Those on the excursion were Christine, Laura, Robyn, Stan, Thea & Paul. Special Thanks to Hamish.
On Sunday 11th August; John, Robyn, Danielle, Laura, Ian and Sandra headed east from a damp and grey Masterton to Glenburn. On arrival at the coast the sun was shining and the drizzle had stopped. The walk start point sign said only 3 hours return, but we weren’t in a hurry. Across the paddocks we followed the orange triangles and blue poles heading south. In places the sea had worn away the land and we headed to the beach to walk around driftwood and over white stones. The track was varied – at times on the beach, sometimes on the farmland and farm track. A few boggy patches needed careful navigation to keep the feet dry. We walked past large seals, found some dead eels on the beach and playful skylarks flying above us. After 2.5 hours we arrived at the first bumpy, lumpy rock. Dark coloured ‘dinosaur teeth’ rocks were imbedded in the holey lighter coloured rock. Crazy spidery and web -like patterns were hiding under rock shelves. We continued on 5 minutes to the main Honeycomb rock. We had lunch in a light breeze on some flat rocks watching the seals head into the ocean. Then we headed to the big honeycomb rocks to explore and take lots of photos. Again lots of different patterns in the rocks, some small ‘hanging gardens’ on the rocks and baby seals peeking out of the rock caves. We met 4 and talked to 4 others (2 from France and 2 from Czech Republic). We returned to the lunch spot, picked up our packs and returned mostly along the track to the cars. NOTE – Honeycomb rock track is closed in Sept and Oct due to lambing. Respect the private landowner wishes and keep to the track / follow signs.
Six of us headed off from the Holdsworth carpark at 9am on a calm and fine morning. Although it was a bit cool as we started off, once we headed up the hill to the Holdsworth lookout we soon needed a stop to remove a layer of clothing. Within an hour we were sitting in the sunshine on the seat at the lookout enjoying morning tea, pleased to have the hardest hill of the day done and dusted. We could see Carrington Ridge from here, where we would be climbing up later on in the day. The new Powell hut stood out with its red roof. After an enjoyable break we headed into the bush again but now the uphill was hardly noticeable. We stopped to view the remains of the old hut along the way before dropping down to Gentle Annie Saddle. It was great to hear the tui and bellbirds along this section of track. After reaching the saddle it was uphill again, but the gradient was a lot easier than our initial climb up to the Holdsworth Lookout. We were soon on to Carrington Ridge and travelling through lovely almost goblin like bush with beautiful mosses all around. The old signposts at high point 801 marked our lunch spot. After lunch and some photos we headed east along the old track and dropped back down on to the main Gentle Annie Track. After seeing only one other person up until now, this part of the track was certainly a lot busier with day trippers, runners and overnight trampers either heading out or on their way back home. We were back at the carpark 5 ½ hours after we left. Those on the trip were Denise, Thea, Brendan, Laura, Viv and Margaret
Seven members of the club left Masterton on the Friday bound for the winter wonderland in Ohakune. After everyone arrived a plan was sorted out and crampons sorted for the next day. On the Saturday two members walked to Mangaehuehu Hut on the round the mountain track. The rest of us headed up into the snow on the Turoa side of the mountain. We slowly made our way up the mountain reaching the top of the ski area in two hours. After a break and a feed we slowly made our way up. Two members headed to the summit up the leading ridge to reach the top at 2797m. The other three of us headed across the slope to the crater rim overlooking the creator lake at 2720m. The day was one out of the bag. There was not a breath of wind on the top and the snow conditions were some of the best you can get for cramponing up to the top. After lunch it was time for us all to head back down. After a short walk to the gentler slope we were able to bum slide down the mountain to the top of the ski area doing some selfaresting practice on the way down. What took just over two hours up took 15-20 min to get back down. We then wandered back down to the carpark. A view back up the mountain was still fantastic and we could all appreciate the hard 1190m climb to get to the top. Back to the house for showers and nibbles. We popped into town for dinner and back to watch the Rugby at the house. Sunday we all packed up and headed around to Whakapapa to look at the new gondola and have a we walk around the snow there and some headed home while others went for a short walk to Taranaki falls. Another great winter trip to Ruapahu.
We met at the Church Street car park. Some expected to take a car to where the walk was to start, something we normally do, but not today. With the sun shining, but not giving much heat, we were well wrapped up as we walked through Queen Elizabeth Park, alongside the Waipoua river and over the road into the Henley Lake reserve. We zigzagged through the many paths, stopping for at least one group photo. After Henley lake it was a street walk up Gordon Street, take the path through to Kitchener, then Manuka and Tankersley Streets where we only go a little geographically misplaced before we found the Manuka Reserve, full of native trees and growing well. Leaving the reserve the sun was warm enough that a few coats, hats and gloves came off. Then it was down through Milford Downs and follow the path along past Hansells and along to 4th Street. Being a nice sunny day we were not the only walkers, with many group members meeting friends along the way. By now we could almost smell the coffee at Dish café in Lansdowne, which is where the tour ended, about 3 hours after leaving the vehicles. There is no need to report on further events and what everyone ate. Those on the trip: Paul & Thea, Denise, Robyn, Janet, Laura, Viv & Ron, Laura & Mike, Viv (another) and Nigel.
On an amazing calm and sunny morning, 9 of us left Masterton and headed over the Remutaka Hill to Wellington. We navigated through the suburbs to find one of the many car-parks to climb the hill. The busy car park indicated that the track may be busy! We threaded our way up the hill through beautiful native bush lots of kawakawa, tui and kereru. Sporadically there were clearings with ever increasing great views of the city and harbour. Eventually the steps levelled out, we crossed a stile, and pushed up the last hill to the viewing platform. The light breeze was enough for us to put on jackets and wool hats as we studied the expansive views. After a quick snack, we walked west to the trig, counted the windmills and took more photos. Returning to the main tower, we headed downhill to complete our loop. In a grassy patch with views of the harbour, we stopped for lunch, a quiz and discussion about future tramps. Back on the track we headed back down steps, through pine trees and past the kids park to return to our start point. Todays trampers were; Stan, Viv, Ron, Desiree, Denise, Thea, Paul, Christine and Sandra
The weather forecast was confusing, Metservice said rain would start in the afternoon, YR said onlydrizzle, but from 10am. 1-0 to Norway! Five of us, and a dog, left Masterton at 8am, meeting Liat and her dog at the road end. It was cloudy and very dark under the canopy as we made our way along and up the hill, the way it was muddy and very slippery in places after the recent rain. Shortly after the halfway point a steady drizzle started, and any chance of a view from “the rock” disappeared, a good reason for four on the trip, who had not been to Blue Range before, to go again on a better day. A couple who had stayed the night were leaving as our party arrived, the hut was rather crowded for a while with coats hung up to try and dry. Over an early lunch the rain got heavier for a while before stopping completely. As we left I replaced the rat bait in the tunnels under the hut, there was none left from the last visit. The trip down hill was dry, but cooler, with a little more birdlife as we got lower in the valley. We were back in Masterton about 3pm after a some good exercise. Those on the trip, Nigel Anita, Jacqueline, Liat, Vivian, and Laura
Domestic duties shrank the planned weekend trip to Roaring Stag and Cattle Ridge Huts down to a day walk to Herepai Hut. Leaving Masterton in fog the single carload set off for the Putara track roadend west of Eketahuna. With westerly winds rising to gale strength the possibility of continuing on to Herepai Peak was swallowed up by the comforts of the hut, even without the fire stoked to life. The two kilometre walk along the Mangatainoka Stream with two swing bridge crossings ought to be sufficient warm-up for the fairly steep 350 metre ascent onto the ridge. Yet it was a slow steady slog for most of us. On the ridge the sign post points left to Roaring Stag Hut and right to Herepai Hut. The travel is fairly flat, though muddy sections soon prove the worth of good boots and gaiters, especially for those who don’t look for stepping stones strategically placed in the puddles. Continuing past the little used ‘Bottle Track’, the last 100 metre ascent leading up to Herepai hut reveals a vantage point looking southward toward Roaring Stag Hut near the Ruamahanga Forks and, further south, Te Mara high point, which feeds both the Ruamahanga and Waingawa River systems. With less than 10 km of walking we were home by mid-afternoon, plenty of time to pick up the reins on domestic duties. The walk was led by Barry and included Nigel, Ange, and Paul.
Situated just inland from Westport our walk on the Old Ghost Road looked to have familiar west coast weather, before we left Masterton the weather forecast was for heavy rain on two days of our walk, and showers on the other three. Never mind, the dates are set and bookings are made, we will make the most of what turns up. A shuttle bus dropped us at Lyell, on the road to Westport from Nelson, where was the rain? The first day was up the gently graded former dray road, through lush forest of ferns and beech trees. Along the way we came across new signage, mining artefacts, and the remains of buildings from the gold mining days, dating back to the 1870’s. Bellbirds and many other native birds made a wonderful musical accompaniment. That night we stayed at Lyell Saddle hut, the rain did finally arrive, along with thunder and lightning, as we settled in to sleep. Day two was to Ghost Lake hut. The original miners track had only got as far as Lyell Saddle, so for the next three days we were to be on tracks constructed by the Trust formed to open the cycle/walking trail. Soon we left the shelter of the forest and were out on the open tops, views of the surrounding mountains were sporadic as the cloud came and went, but it was way better than a day of rain. After Ghost Lake hut the route was generally downhill, so steep in one part that steps had been used to lose height quickly. As we entered the lowland forest the dense beech forest included patches of rimu, totara and some lancewoods. The numerous bellbirds of the first day were not so vocal in the northern forest sections. The night a Stern Valley hut was “memorable” for the snoring of one cyclist! Day four, our longest day with 23km to the next hut at Specimen Point hut, was forecast to be very wet. The cyclists were to be away by 7am, we had an early start too, a good choice as it turned out. Shortly after we started we had a steady climb through an area named “the boneyard”, huge rocks had fallen down in past earthquakes, barren and not a place to hang around, but great views back down the valley from the top. After stopping at the historic Goat Creek hut for lunch we reached Forks hut just as the rain started. We were all thankful to reach Specimen Point hut about an hour later, we had just settled in and got the fire going when the rain came down in West Coast torrents, and continued on and off for most on the evening. We woke to another fine day, our final day walking down the Mokihinui river gorge, where there had been, until recent years, plans to build a hydro dam. The patches of sun slowly increased and by the time we reached the Rough and Tumble Lodge, our destination that night, the sun was giving us our warmest day. Birdlife around the Lodge was prolific, helped no doubt by the many traps in the area. A great trip highly recommended.
Pinnacle Ridge – Atiwhakatu Valley Trip Report April 7, 2019 With no small degree of determination, three Masterton Tramping Club members met at Holdsworth carpark at the respectable hour of 8am. All had been careful to reset their clocks and phones to NZ standard Time, some with relief that Daylight Saving was over for another year. The planned walk to Pinnacle high point of 877 metres, along the ridge to the end of the Atiwhakatu Valley, then return via the river track to the carpark was the fourth time scheduled as a trip. The forecast weather looked like this one too would be scuttled for a more favourable rough weather route. Instead, the day was clear and still with just a few misty clouds about the prominences of Girdlestone, McGregor and Holdsworth. The grunty part of the walk is the 600 metre ascent over two kilometres to Pinnacle. Sandra led the way and it was not long before clothing preparatory for inclement weather was stashed in daypack or wrapped around waist. The ascending track skirts the top of a large slip at around 400 metres elevation, offering a good reason to stop for a breather. The views over the Atiwhakatu Stream and Donnelly Flats are delightful and are the only outlook offered until breaking the summit. After two hours of walking the views from Pinnacle were enhanced by the presence of a pair of NZ Bellbird – Korimako – chiming out their unique song. The open top is exposed to northerly and westerly weather yet this day remained peacefully still and the temptation to linger was thwarted by thoughts of another five hours of walking yet to do. The Pinnacle Ridge track is fairly straight forward although it is not marked on current Topo maps. In one sense it is downhill all the way with two minor saddles to ascend out of toward high points 862 and 846 respectively. Another hour of travel took us to the track sign that leads in steep descent to a crossing point just north of Atiwhakatu Hut. We pressed on through the ladder fern that threatens to obscure the track along broadening ridge. Just as hour four ticks by we emerge onto the Barton Track that, to the right, leads to Mitre Flats Hut. We are still at 700 metres elevation as we turn left, soon passing the Baldy Track turnoff, then steeply descending 100 metres to the swing bridge crossing the Atiwhakatu Stream. The sky has clouded over and we expect that the forecast rain will arrive before we arrive at Atiwhakatu Hut. But it is time for lunch so, perching on riverbed boulders, we take in the ambience of this beautiful place, realising that where we are sitting would be engulfed within a torrent when the big rains come. Satisfied and refuelled we walk the trickier portion of track north of Atiwhakatu Hut arriving there to find a lone tramper enjoying a snack and cuppa having just arrived from an overnight stay at Jumbo Hut. From here-on the familiar River Track descends 180 metres over seven kilometres. The stride lengthens and within an hour and a half we cross the bridge and make our way to Holdsworth Lodge to notate the DOC Intentions logbook that we have completed our walk. The Pinnacle Ridge walk is graded by Masterton Tramping Club as ‘average plus’ fitness to take into account the longer ascent of Pinnacle as well as the seven hour day walking a little over 17 km. It is a very pleasant walk when the weather is favourable as it was this day. Apart from a very brief shower the rain that was forecast held off until we arrived in Masterton.