Tukituki River – Daphne Hut
Wednesday, January 16 2013, Map: BL36
When we departed from Taradale at 7.30am for another Wednesday adventure, the weather was fine, sunny and warm. However, as we travelled southwards down State Highway 50, ominous black clouds suggested that we could be in for a change.
South of Tikokino, we turned off Highway 50 and headed towards Ashley Clinton and Mill Road. It became a tortuous, winding gravel road which our driver, Kelvin, negotiated calmly. On reaching our alternative road end, we disembarked from the van and began our preparations. The temperature had dropped markedly, and a number of the party began to don extra layers with the expectation they would soon be shed once we got under way.
Vic, Ken and John Marshall decided that they would proceed up the Tukituki River as far as they felt comfortable, while the remaining six of us intended to make for Daphne Hut. We proceeded over the stile, familiarised ourselves with the DoC information board and map, and set off down an overgrown 4×4 track, which descended steeply to the river. Some of us speculated as to how hard it might be grinding up there after a full day’s tramping. As we reached the river flats, there was debate as to where we went and it was quickly established which was Moorcock’s stream and which was the Tukituki. Self-evident really!
Then began what was to be numerous river crossings in beautifully clear and warm water. We had an English visitor with us who fortunately lived in her youth in the Lakes District and had undertaken a number of significant walks within NZ. Jennie was intrigued that we should choose to walk up a river, as in her experience the walking she did in the UK avoided that option and used bridges where possible.
As we progressed, the valley narrowed and the river flats, which were covered in lupin, long grasses and buddleia, became more difficult to traverse at times. Further on, we began to encounter large boulders, up to 2m in size and of a reddish hue. Some of the slips had exposed rocks which appeared to have been shaped by earthquake activity. On the way, we were subject to brief periods of fine drizzle and some wind.
While not out to break speed records, we seemed to be making reasonable time, albiet with some slipping and sliding and occasional mis-step which was challenging for aging joints! However, we had been led to believe that the trip would take around two and a half to three hours and as we got closer to the three-hour mark, Kelvin and Murray W decided it might be a good idea to consult our maps and GPS. We had just passed a significant stream on the true right and established where we thought we were. At that point, we confirmed this with a GPS reading and trudged on.
Another quarter of an hour and we had reached the next major stream-river junction where the overland track to Daphne descends. We then proceeded up through the narrowing section of river for another quarter of an hour until we passed the start of the track to Howletts and then sighted the Daphne Hut on the river terrace on the true left.
After lunch we did the route in reverse. Those who had managed to avoid slipping in the river crossings then provided some entertainment on the return with Dorothy managing to emulate a novice roller skater before seating herself down in the water. Murray W made a less than graceful slip into a pool which saw him fully immersed before dog paddling up-stream while he orientated himself!
Murray G was confident that some obliging trout was going to come his way, but that was not to happen on this trip.
The grind up the hill to the van was not as bad as the imagining, and soon we were changing into dry clothes and on our way home.
Ken, Vic and John also had an enjoyable day and were stretched out on the grass relaxing when we reached the van.
Trampers: Ken Ross, Vic Bullock, John Marshall, Dorothy Sole, Jennie Porter (our English visitor), Gordon Tapp, Kelvin Shaw, Murray Goss and reporter Murray White