Cascade Hut, Kaimanawa Forest Park, Saturday/Sunday August 27-28 2011.
Map: BH36 Motutere
There were only three of us for this weekend trip. We arrived at the end of Clements Mill Road (off Tahaura Rd), all looking forward to the tramp. There were a lot of vehicles parked in the bays off the road, which worried us a bit, but hunters like to keep to themselves, or at least the good ones fly camp. So we walked along the Hinemaiaia Stream, past the waterfall, and along more river flat.
The Hinemaiaia (also known as the Hatepe River) is an inflowing eastern tributary of Lake Taupo which joins the lake at the settlement of Hatepe, just off SH1. It drains the western boundary of Kaimanawa Forest Park between the Waitahanui and Waipehi watersheds and flows north-west until it enters Lake Taupo. The Hinemaiaia has three hydro stations, the first of which acts as a barrier to fish moving upstream to spawn. Just before the start of the climb, we encountered hunters who had set up camp. They’d had no luck yet.
The climb was steady and we had no snow, compared to our last trip into Cascade Hut in August 2008. On reaching the ridge top (1240m), we got fabulous views south. Lake Taupo is a distant view west. Once we started the downhill (from 1159), views were occasional through the beech trees, and still spectacular. We stopped to get a GPS heading, and orientate the map. That enabled us to identify the distant snowy mountains. Our old favourites Makorako, and Te Wetenga, we thought.
Once down on the Tauranga-Taupo river flat, we savoured the river views, with lots of deer footprints on the river sand. Fortunately, Cascade Stream which we needed to cross just two minutes from the hut, was low, and Alison and I were able to cross without getting our feet wet. We arrived at Cascade Hut at 2.30pm and it was empty (aren’t we lucky?) and we soon set up and had a hot drink in the sun on the verandah.
We decided to go look at the Cascades, and what a sight. The river has eroded a narrow channel through ancient lava flows (350,000 years and older) of andesite and ignimbrite rock. Two big trees were stuck in the lower reaches, but we looked further up, and saw the fascinating rock shapes and thundering water. Some beautiful blue pools too. The brown on the submerged rock also made the picture quite unusual. Back at the hut, we washed and had another hot drink and got the Corker stove going. What a bonus to have coal available. On darkness, we prepared our dinners and had a comfortable evening hearing about Les’s recent travels.
After breakfast, and the usual clean-up, we left Cascade Hut on a beautiful blue-sky day. The climb back to the ridge top was a pleasure, turning around now and again to get those distant snow mountain views. On our descent, we heard the kaka which is mentioned in the hut log book. Les did a splendid imitation bird call, and we saw the bird land on a beech tree nearby. They are big birds, and the call is not melodious, but distinct. Too far away for a photo, but just seeing it was a bonus. The most common native birds in the park are the pigeon, fantail, bellbird, rifleman, robin, grey warbler, tomtit, whitehead and kakariki. I am sure we heard them all.
We continued on down, and soon reached the Hinemaiaia river again, before reaching the swing bridge where we stopped and had a break in the sunshine. A relaxed trip, and wonderful forest with many beech trees, some of good size.
A notice on the FMC website.
Kaimanawa Access – East Taupo Lands
DoC Turangi has advised that the East Taupo Lands Trust is only allowing public use of its land via aerial access through its lessee Tongariro Aviation. This means no public tramping/hunting on any part of the land unless flown there by the licence-holder. There will be no permit system, such as run by the previous lessee. This affects the track sections between Ngapuketurua and Cascade Hut, between Ngapuketura and Junction Tops (ie Waipakihi Hut), and from Oamaru Hut out to the end of the Poronui Poled Access Route, and the many ‘wilderness’ routes outside of the Kaimanawa Forest Park boundaries. The department was hopeful that the section between Cascade hut and Ngapuketurua would be available for public use, but this is now not the case. The DoC website is being updated as soon as possible to convey this information and DoC track entrance and boundary signs will be updated as and when resources allow. Any further enquiries can be directed to the Trust Secretary, Russell Feist (Tripe Matthews & Feist, Wellington), phone 04 494 1595. The Trust website is http://www.easttaupolands.co.nz [20/5/2011]
Trampers: Les O’Shea, Alison Greer and Julia Mackie