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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 15. July 26, 1939

Te Matawai Arete

Te Matawai Arete

8—9th July

We are deposited at Levin Pipe just after mid-day and limber up across open paddocks and plunge into the bush near Ohau Lower Gorge. A short dash through the "greenhouse," and Ohau hut waits green and red at the foot of the Gable and ridge. Refuelled, we head at a moderate pace upstream and reach the confluence of the North and South Ohau. We thread a miniature gorge, where white silent bush breathes frosty breath as we wade towards the root of Yeate's track. Here five or the party chonk ahead up a third gear grade. In the grey dusk we miss the Richard's Knob turnoff, but after consultations we struggle Eastward Ho, over windfalls, white and cold. Vivas, Slickitorias, and thoughts or steaming fleshpots as we near Te Matawai. Temperature 26 deg. F. but no wind. . . .


Alarums—excursions—the alarm, rattles off at 1.30 a.m. Lights flicker—a low wind soughs round the hut—drowsy questions before dawn.

Shades of Watson-Munro and Powell cursing at the idea of an early start. Spluttering—and then the brazen roar of promises—"brekker" is served amid the rattling of plates—stolid silence of munching.

We emerge like cocooned grubs and wriggle for the leatherwood line. We furrow on up towards Pukematawai, shrinking into woolly skins as ol' man Southerly blusters up—we skirt the windward side or the ridge where the snow-drifts are less deep—snow plumes and whorls flare in the east, lights of Levin and Shannon pulse in the west—full dawn on Pukematawai.

South and North, a maze of ridges and peaks all flaunting long snow pennants—the last long ridge and Arete welcomes us at 20 deg. F. Camera shutters click, we pass round dates and chocolate and peer at the horizon thro' icicled eyelids—not so tropical, so we romp yodelling down to the saddle; the sunis warm as we plug up Pukematawai. Over the top we wander down drowsy to Te Matawai, 9.25, and the snow falls thickly again. We eat, yarn and head off in groups for Yeate's track.

Past the junction we wander down to the forks of South Ohau and Butcher's Creek. Snow falls heavily as we wade down to the confluence.

At the entrance to the "green house" we scoff biscuits sprinkled with snow—then slope off thro' dripping bush tunnels.

We sing as we cross open paddocks while black swans whistle past, glowing arrowshafts pulsing east. We face west—silent—Alpha and Omega. The lorry lights are ahead.