The Spike [or Victoria University College Review 1961]
Northern Crossing of Tararuas (Easter, 1960)
Northern Crossing of Tararuas (Easter, 1960)
From various records of easy day trips, long mountaineering expeditions, bridge building and but birthday parties — and, of course, ordinary tramps — we have chosen this account of a classic crossing of the Tararuas.
Leader: John Ross.
Party: Ray Hoare, Bob McFadden, Syd Moore.
As Only four members were attempting the crossing, we split into pairs and hitch hiked our way to Levin. Bob and I left early Friday afternoon; the other two, John and Ray, were to follow up later on. After a frustrated effort in finding the high track (an hour of solid bush-bashing provoked by the obstinacy of Bob), Bob and I took to the river, which we found to our surprise seemed to be the accepted highway. After another hour we located Ohau Hut, and to be quite frank I thought a herd of elephants had been through the neighbouring bush. But closer inspection showed us that this absolutely chaotic devastation was due to the army in one of their exercises. At approximately 8 p.m. the others arrived so we had tea and bedded down, sleeping outside as the but was so dirty inside.
We rose at 5 a.m. to a drizzling, cold, grey morning. By six we were away up the river. Another hour saw us at the South Ohau Hut, which was in the process of being rebuilt by the Manawatu Tramping Club. We slogged for two hours to Te Matawai Hut, dined, then moved on to Puke Matawai only to be enveloped in thick mist, a typical Tararua 'pea-souper'. An argument developed as to whether we were page 55 actually on Puke Matawai or a subsidiary peak. The only way to make sure was to go on to see what happened, and the way the country tied up with the map. We plunged down to a small saddle and up to another peak, which I was sure was Arete, but John was still undecided and wanted to go on a little further. There was quite a strong wind blowing and the mist was even thicker, making visibility no more than five yards. Playing on the safe side John and Ray went further in an E.N.E. direction, while Bob and I stayed on Arete and put on our long trousers. About fifteen minutes later they returned, and were now reasonably sure we were on Arete, it now being a matter of getting off it onto Tarn Ridge. Another fifteen minutes later after much consultation over the map, and extensive exploration of the Southern aspect of Arete, we plunged off into the dark murk. A freak, momentary rise in the mist saved us an unprecedented trip into the Park Valley, for a couple of hundred feet above us and to the left of us was the small saddle between Arete and the Waiohine Pinnacle; a brief sidle across and up the intervening gap rectified our error. It was four in the afternoon when we tackled the Pinnacle, and we were periodically lashed by heavy rain. We battled our way along Tarn Ridge. Darkness was only about an hour away when John very wisely decided we had better find a place to camp for the night, as we were rather uncertain as to how long it would take us to get to Dorset Ridge Hut. We chose the 'Prominent Rock Campsite' as it seemed to afford the most shelter. After pitching the tent very low to catch less wind we prepared a meal in cramped conditions, then bedded down like sardines. (I don't know who said it was a four-man tent; it seemed more like a two-man to me.) A cold, damp night was spent by all, especially John, who seemed to own his own private swimming pool. The thing that surprised me most was that the tent hadn't disappeared into the wild night, as I was sure it was going to take off a couple of times.
Dispelling all hopes of having breakfast, we decided to make for Dorset Ridge as fast as we could go. It did not take long to pack our wet gear and we were away. Not far from the turn-off we were grimly reminded of the fatal efforts of Basil Blatchford the Easter before, for his memorial cross had been erected the day before by the Deerstalkers' Association. Without any further misadventure we arrived at the but thoroughly saturated to find the but occupied by six members of the Deerstalkers' Association. With their usual generous hospitality they supplied us with a little dry clothing while we burned through all their wood drying out our gear. We decided unanimously to stay the night, as none of us relished the thought of making a dash for Mitre Flats. The wind was now very strong, and was lashing the hut with rain.
Sunday morning was gloriously sunny with not a breath of wind. Before long, after a good breakfast and a short pull, we were basking in the sun on top of Girdle-stone. This sunshine we felt we had rightfully earned. We ambled our way down to Mitre Flats Hut after the short haul up to Mitre itself, had lunch, then made off for the pines at a fast pace, reaching there in 21/2 hours. Here a farmer gave us a lift to Masterton, saving us a long three hours walk. Once on the main road we easily obtained a ride home to a hot meal, bath, and warm bed.
In all, a most enjoyable weekend.
S. Moorepage 56