Iron Gate – Ngamoko Range/Ruahine Range Crossover, Saturday-Sunday March 27-28. Map: BL36 Norsewood
Trampers: Ted Angove, Paul Exeter, Alison Greer, Les O’Shea, Ali Hollington, Geoff Donkin and Julia Mackie
The planned start from Kashmir Road end was aborted at our 7am meeting point. The winds were high and it would have been horrendous on the tops. So we decided to drive around to the western side of the Ruahine Range and walk into Iron Gate. Some of us had not been there before and we like to go somewhere new.
The day was sunny with high cloud but still 19C. We parked at the end of Table Flat Rd along with at least half a dozen other vehicles and set off at around 10.30. We hoped those other people weren’t walking our way.
The bridge crossing over the Oroua River is the same as on the track to Rangi Hut. We reached Heritage Lodge within 25 minutes, and a group of schoolkids was just leaving. After checking out the new lodge, we continued on to our destination, Iron Gate Hut. The track follows the Oroua River, with a few ups and down and quite a number of huge tree falls, which had been cut up to allow passage. We lunched down by the river in the sun, checking out the fishing pools. The track was a little boggy in places and Paul, taking a short cut, ended on all fours in the mud. What a sight…
On reaching the hut around 2.30, we found two hunters in residence. They had come from Taranaki and were hoping that the deer roar would be early, but apparently the weather was too warm. We had a hot cuppa before deciding what to do next. The planned crossover was back on, with Paul and Ted volunteering to drive the vehicles around to pick us up at Kashmir Road-end. We checked out the track heading up to the Ngamoko Range from the hut, for about 20 minutes. It was going to be a climb up as usual from the river the next morning.
A lazy afternoon in the sun outside the hut, and then pancakes courtesy of Paul and plenty of maple syrup and whipped cream on top and the usual cheerios supplied by Ted. After dinner, the hunters light the campfire out the front of the hut. We watched it get dark and the moon rising above the bushline.
The next day looked good and we started out for the tops at 8.30am in fine warm weather. The podocarp forest seemed very dark. Just before the tops, we stopped and put on coats and overtrousers, hats, gloves and extra layers. A drizzle was persistent and the wind up a bit. Coming out of the leatherwood, the track becomes a route; however, it was easy to spot. We made our way to a cairn which we knew marked one of the high points we needed to pass along the Ngamoko tops. Cloud hampered the long views.
We then headed east for 1519m where a sign indicated Iron Gate Hut, from whence we had tramped. We checked with the GPS and map, and then headed north-east towards Otumore, also 1519m. Standards marked the route from here, down the steep muddy slope to Pohangina Saddle. I took a tumble on the grass, and did a few horizontal cartwheels. We reached Longview Hut, happy to be out of the cold wind and rain for our late lunch. We calculated that it would take an hour to get to the road-end, and so phoned Ted and Paul to check their position. They had got to Table Flat road-end in 3 1/2 hours and were in Ashhurst. We arranged to meet at 2.30, and then put a billy on for a hot drink with lunch.
We reached the road-end shelter early, but five wet and happy trampers had completed the west-east crossover despite the conditions. Good navigating and using the GPS at the various high points made for an exhilarating day’s end to the weekend.