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Heels 1967

Northern Main Range - May 66

Northern Main Range - May 66.

The party travelled to Levin by a variety of means on the brilliantly fine morning after Procesh 66. The start of the trip was delayed somewhat while we gave the TV viewers a rare treat, perhaps at the expense of the student image. It was midday before we left the pipe bridge and set off for Te Matawai. Four of us Stopped for lunch in the riverbed past Ohau hut, while the fifth went on ahead and was next seen completely soaked. He claimed it was purely intentional. There was little [unclear: time] for mucking about so we sped on up to Te Matawai reaching the hut just on dusk. After tea one person threw his brew outride in disgust, then aired his views on the disadvantages of keeping sugar and rolled oats in identical tins.

The next morning was still gloriously fine, and we hurried up Pukematawai thankful to be on top before it became too hot. We scrambled down the main ridge, chanting anti-leatherwood slogans, until we reached the opon summit of Butcher knob, some 1300 ft below Pukematawai,. A helicopter pad here suggested that there was a new hut or bivvy nearby but this was not to be found. (We reached it an hour later on Dracopsyllum Knob - it must have missed). After Butcher Knob the route enters the [unclear: bush] and is marked with orange discs. I refuse to callit a track. We had page break lunch at the bivvy, and then set off at a reduced pace as Nichols was now looking much closer. Every insignificant bump was dutifully sat upon, until we reached Kelliher, where we resumed speed on the long haul up thru the bush to the open top of Nichols, Nichols hut is just south of the top, about 5 min. from the ridge, and plainly visible in this sort of weather, The bunks all have blocks of wood under one side of them to keep then horizontal, A typically large stew completed a most enjoyable day and we sank into the pit pleasantly bloated.

Sunday dawned with light mist floating round the tops but still no wind and rain. We rose early, stumbling drunkenly in the dark on the sloping floor. An hour south of Nichols we decided after much discussion that we had reached the spur leading down to Kelliher Flats, This was confirmed when we dropped below the mist just above the bushline. Travelling down this spur was easy, but losing one's sense of direction equally so, Every few minutes our navigator would scream out something like "Veer left by about 90 degrees". However, all errors cancelled out and we landed in the Otaki River 5 min below Kelliher Greek, and on a NZFS culler's track. It may be noted that culler's tracks may not lead anywhere in particular, This one certainly took a route over high spurs, across vertical shingle slides, and generally in the worst possible places until it stopped abruptly at the top of a cliff. At this stage all but one of the party had already taken to the riverbed which provided easy travelling upstream as far as the brand new Mid Otaki hut, situated in a bush flat on the true left of the river, We lunched in luxury, then set off downstream by the easiest route ie. down the true middle to arrive at Waite-waewae 2½ hours later.

The weather on Monday remained fine until we had all reached civilisation - then it rained for the rest of the holidays.

Party:- Ross Gooder (leader), Nigel Eggers, Kevin Pearce, Tony Hurst, Nick Whitten.

-Nick Whitten.