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Heels 1968

Bannister - Neill Forks - Winchcombe - Alpha (Modified)

Bannister - Neill Forks - Winchcombe - Alpha (Modified)

The start of this weekend trip was delayed for two days owing to heavy rain during which time the trip leader managed to procure the services of a motorcyle. As the entire party (but not all its gear as well) could be accommodated on one motorcycle the trip was changed to one which starts and finishes at the same place, viz. Ohau - Waiopehu - Dundas - Ohau. So on the Sunday afternoon two people set out for Levin, one on a motorbike and one on thumb. The latter won convincingly as the motorbike spluttered and died at Paekak. The ensuing road walk in warm humid sunshine got us in the right sort of mood to meet the farmer. He was very nice about it but tramps were not allowed over his property at lambing time. So the trip started with a half-hour stroll up the Makaretu river, until we decided we had reached a good place to bash up to the Waiopehu track. 20 minutes and several near hangings later we were at the top of the 50 foot supplejack slope above the river. Another 50 yards of relatively easy bushbashing and we were back on Poads farm. Skirting round the farmland we finally arrived at the track which climbed steadily up to Edwards shelter. This shelter is the shape and size of a bus stop with the open side facing the way the weekend's rain had come from. Also it is close enough to Waiopehu hut to be used as its longdrop. Despite page 9the time wasting it was still light when we reached Waiopehu.

We left on Monday morning in heavy rain, across the open tops of Waiopehu and Twin Peak, where we dropped into the bush. Back at Twin Peak an hour later we dropped off into the bush in a different direction and found ourselves on a newly cut and disced track. This took us to Te Matawai hut in 4 hours from Waipehu (including 1 hour wasted at Twin Peak) we sat in our pits discussing whether or not to go on to Dundas or not, until it was too late to go anyway. The rain eased for a while in the evening but started again with renewed vigour as we left the next morning.

We slithered down the muddy track to South Ohau where we were greeted with a beautiful thick brown Ohau river complete with floating trees and clanging boulders. After sidling for 100 yards we decided that the river was not sidleable so we started to climb towards Gable End ridge. Supplejack near the river gave way to flax, ferns, thick cutty grass, bush-lawyer, stunted beech trees and finally leatherwood before we reached the top of Gable End about an inch of rain later. From here there is a good track down to Ohau hut, with good views, mostly of bush, clouds and waterfalls, though the weather was clearing. Also conspicuous from the ridge was the new extension to Lake Horowhenua.

Back at the farm we made a detour to avoid disturbing lambs, then set off homeward by foot then thumb.

- N.K.W.

Party: Euan Nicol (Leader), Nick Whitten.