Urutawa Forest Oct 2010
Party Members: Tina Jacques (Leader), Claudia Edwards, Geoff Fischer, Kay Wilcocks, Ian Morris & Pete Waworis
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Labour Weekends generally have rather inclement weather but this year's was fabulous. The Auckland Tramping Club's trip was into a new area where route information was almost non-existent! Our Party Leader, Tina Jacques had managed to obtain some info from Doc Opotiki which indicated that it was a little travelled area, with rugged terrain and not suitable for inexperienced parties. They requested information from us on our return as they had little up-to-date info of the areas we intended travelling.
We arrived at the Manganuku campsite on the Waioeka road around 1:30am with our party starting out at 8am. A good benched track had us up on the top of the first saddle in quicktime before descending to start the first of much stream bashings. The reddish slime on the river rocks was very slippery requiring extra attention when walking in the stream bed. With a clear blue sky we quickly warmed up as we started climbing up to the next saddle before a steep drop down into the Tokenui watershed. We reached the Tokenui hut just after midday and enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the sun. A well worn sign stated "Te Waiti hut approx 3 hours", and immediately we had thoughts of an early arrival at Te Waiti hut that afternoon. Yeah right!!!!
After leaving the hut we criss crossed the Tokenui stream numerous times as we progressed down a fabulously lush valley Tina sighted a NZ Falcon gliding in the thermals above us. The valley narrowed and we were suddenly confronted with the stream disappearing into a gorge which provided little view of the way ahead. After a quick reece we decided to follow the pink ribbon identifying a route around the gorge. The scramble had many of us inadvertently grabbing hold of Ongaonga as we clung to the steep slopes. The view down into the gorge showed a number of small waterfalls confirming that we had taken the correct option. The route was marginal in places and we clambered along like monkeys swinging from supporting tree trunks. We dropped back down to the stream and continued on until the next gorgey bit where another pink ribbon indicated a route around. This proved the right option last time so we scrambled out of the stream up a very steep goat track to a surprisingly well formed benched track. We happily picked up the pace as we motored along this highway only to be confronted by a multitude of slips requiring either a very slow and caution crossing or climbing up and around them. At this stage the river started looking a much better option but alas the descend back down was far to steep so we were stuck up here. The afternoon quickly disappeared and as evening approached we encountered a side stream where the track just disappeared. After spending an hour looking for the track and various other options we finally found an animal trail disappearing up a steep sloop in the right
direction. This eventually provided access back down to the bench track but by now it was after 6pm and we needed to find somewhere to camp. The likelihood of a good campsite was nil on these steep slopes so we finally found a place not far from a side stream that provided some reasonably flat ground.
The radio sched had Diane Dowle informing us that they had a party member requiring evacuation after tearing a ligament in their knee. The med party also had encountered problems with travel much slower than anticipated. To hear more about the Easy party's story click here.
A surprising loud dawn chorus awoke our party the following morning and we quickly broke camp. A very steep drop down the nose of the spur we had been camping on had us in the river shortly after 8am. We easily descended the last km of river taking us through a very narrow gorge with ferns and moss hanging from the vertical sides. On leaving the gorge a track marker indicating a climb out of the river. Five minutes up the track we reached a track intersection where we found Midway Bivvy, a much more comfortable campsite than the one we had utilised last night. A GPS reading indicated that we were indeed back on a marked track and before long we were steaming down an overgrown benched track that had us out on farmland within the hour. A few more river crossings had us at Te Waiti hut by 11am where we found some local Maori about to leave. Their three horses were laden down with packs, sacks and even a pig caught the previous day. The dozen odd dogs and pups barked a welcome as we had a quick yarn before they departed. It quickly became obvious as we waited for the medium party to arrive that we would be unable to complete the planned circuit in the remaining day and a bit. The medium party arrived just after 1pm and it was decided that we would walk out down the river past the Doc Boulder campsite to the Otara roadend. We all had a very relaxing afternoon before the 12 member Waikato tramping club party invaded the hut. Tents spouted up like mushrooms around the hut and 3 young hunters returned at about 7pm to find the hut and surrounds very lively indeed.
A two walk out to the roadend the following morning had us in Opotiki by 11am. Big Blue disappeared back to the Manganuku campsite to drop off the drivers of the Waikato Tramping club's vehicles. Most of us abandoned Big Blue filling our faces in Opotiki's cafes while we waited for its return. There were plenty of stories traded about nice paramedics whisking Liz away in a helicopter and encounters with huge cliffs and gaping chasms above the river. An uneventful trip home had us back in Auckland by 7pm. Lee Mckay had brought his own vehicle which enabled him to pick Liz up from Tauranga hospital on the way home.
|Location: Urutawa Forest||Number of Days: 3||Grade: Med/Fit|
|Start Location: Manganuku Campsite||Number in Party: 6||Organisation: Auckland Tramping Club|
|Finish Locatiion: Otara Rd, Opotiki||Leader: Tina Jacques||Weather: Fine|
Proposed Route: Notes from Doc (times very out of date as indicated by times below and what we encountered)
Day 1. From Manganuku Campsite, N to Te Waiti Hut (8) or even Lagoon biv. 6-8hrs
Day 2. S to Manganuku Hut (6). 7-9hrs
Day 3. W to Manganuku Camp. 3-4 hrs.
Details From the Manganuku Campsite on Waioeka Rd the track starts from the road bridge on the true right. The track is benched to start with and slowly degrades to as we climbed to the saddle. Somewhat rougher on the other side dropping steeply to the river. The river bed rocks were very slippery in places and care was needed. Reasonable climb up to next saddle before another steep drop to river. Picking up the tracks out of the river was reasonably straight forward and mostly marked.
From the Tokenui hut the track criss-crossed the river until reaching a the beginnings of a gorge. This looked to have several small waterfalls so we took the marked route up the true right bank which was very rough, steep and extremely slow to naviagte around. Drop down to the river asap after gorge. Picked up marked route out of river further down and got on old benched track. This is not marked on the map and with good reason. It was badly eroded with large slips requiring us to climb up and around. Once up there it was extremely difficult to get back down to the river. Encountered a large side stream (appears to have been once bridged) and spent an hour trying to pick track up on crossing it. Took another 30 minutes to find remains of track again.GR859617. Recommend staying in the river as much as possible and only leaving when you have no choice.
|Time/Km travelled Manganuku Campsite to Tokenui Hut (4hrs), Tokenui Hut to campsite (5.75hrs)|
Hut/Campsite details incl Grid Reference Manganuku Campsite
Tokenui hut (4 bunk) had plenty of camping space with water close by.
Campsite: Small flatish area below old benched track suitable for party less than 10 with small tents/flies. Access to river gained by dropping down the steep nose of the spur to river. NZTopo50 GR1986020,5762560
|Water source Water found 5min away at side stream or down at main river.|
|Day Two||Details From the campsite drop down the snout of the spur to the river (last bit a tad steep). Travel down the river was easy passing thru a narrow gorge in ankle deep water. Track out of river is just beyond this on the true right. This leads up to Midway Biv and the track from there is well formed and easy to find.|
|Time/Km travelled 3hrs|
Hut/Campsite details incl Grid Reference Midway Bivvy - no longer marked on the map. Two bunk hunters bivvy with new PVC cover over frame. Plenty of room for camping around hut in clearing. GR858631 (water form river 5min away)
|Water source Watertank and river.|
|Day Three||Details From hut travelled down the Te Waiti stream on well formed track crossing the river a few times. Take the higher track when reach Private Property skirting above Bushhaven and travel down the metal road past Doc Boulder Campsite to the bridge.|
|Time/Km travelled 2hrs|
|Hut/Campsite details incl Grid Reference Nil|
|Water source River|