Titiokura Saddle – Maungahururus – Taraponui – Bell Rock – Bellbird Bush, Saturday June 6 2009
Trampers: Murray White, Alison Greer, John Gray, Sandy Ross from Havelock North, Denise Payne, Julia Mackie, Jude Paton, Paul Hendy, Ted Angove, Paul Exeter, Gordon Tapp, Colin McNatty, Geoff Donkin, Simon Hill and John Dobbs
The day began rather milder than recently, but with a possible late southerly change threatening rain. We had a party of 15, including John Gray recently returned from Thailand, and Sandy, a new tramper to the club.
Arriving at the Taupo Road start around 7.45am, John G and President Murray were to drive the hire van and Alison’s car around to Pohokura Road. Then they would walk up via Bell Rock and meet the party somewhere around Taraponui.
So off we went along the farm road, with hats and gloves handy for the windy bits. The route steadily climbed to a small quarry, where you bear left over farm tracks. Parts of the road/track were pretty icy and a few boggy sections were crunchy underfoot. All the while as we gained height, great views over Hawke Bay were emerging. Although the wind was icy at times, the sky was pretty clear. The contrast of dryish brown grasses, blue skies, the low winter light and clear views out over the bay was awesome, and the cameras came out. Some of the party, particularly Ted and Alison, were clear about the best directions to follow as we cut our way across grassy sections, or wound around hills and through narrow guts. I lost count of the fence lines we crossed, but no problems were encountered.
Another feature that had us gaping was the amazing rock formations, some quite bizarre and quizzical. The entire area has interesting rock features – and some tomos.
Somewhere around here, Geoff went awol in search of a better route, but after a while reappeared a little way in front of us, returning to the fold. His punishment for straying is to give the talk at the next club meeting! The views just got better and better, including out towards the Kawekas and Kaimanawas, there being not much snow to be seen. At times, it became quite warm and some were stripping off – until they were hit by the next jolt of cold wind.
With sublime timing, at exactly noon, we stopped for lunch in the shelter of a pocket of scrubby bush, not far short of the peak of Taraponui, which at 1308m is the highest point of the range. There was a light dusting of snow towards the top of Taraponui and a cold wind, but great views all round beneath the telecommunications tower. Here we met up with John and Murray and began the walk along the access road.
Then we ‘undulated’ closer to the escarpment edge and along the fence line. A little further on, we could look down to Galbraith’s Hut set on a grassy plateau below.
There were more evocative formations at the Bell Rock area, with the light making for great photos. Then it was simply a matter of following the old walkway marker posts to a junction sign where we turned right, crossed a stile and descended the track to the vehicles. This pleasant section has some lovely old trees and is quite dense with its understorey and plenty of birds, although I only heard two tuis and saw one kereru this time. A nice contrast to the open, grassy country we had spent the day in.
We were all back at the cars by 3.45pm, or just under eight hours for the entire trip. It had been a very pleasant ramble, with great views, good company and pleasant winter conditions. Many enjoyed the regular stop at the Tutira store for an ice cream or coffee – a civilised way to end a lovely day for everyone.
Many thanks to the four property owners for allowing us to traipse across their farmland.