Scenic Lookout to Iron Whare, to Kaweka Flats Bivvy, to Makahu Saddle car park. Kaweka FP. Wednesday, September 16, 2015. Map: BJ37
We were 22 trampers off on a trip to the Kawekas via Puketitiri and the road to the Makahu. Luckily, the day was brilliantly fine and the forecast nor-westerlies had not reached their zenith.
On passing the Lotkow Road turn-off, we travelled for a further two and a half kilometres as the crow flies until we encountered the DoC sign which indicated the “Scenic Lookout”, the Quarry and the fire-fighting pool. Here the two vans emptied and we began our preparations.The look-out gave an outstanding view of the bush slopes leading up into the starkly eroded faces of the eastern Kawekas. From there, we could see the steepness of our imminent descent and – more concerning – the steep climb back up to the Iron Whare and the Kaweka Flats. For those who had not previously descended the spur to the river, it was perhaps a case of ignorance being bliss! For those who had been-there-done-that, it was more a case of “The Charge of the Old Brigade”. Initially, the track was easy enough to follow, but as we descended deeper into the scrub and kanuka, we had to cast about more to stay on track. At one point, we passed some blue tape denoting the track’s direction, but found difficulty identifying whence to from there. Instead of back-tracking to the last known point of certainty, a number of the Old Brigade scented the air and could sense the joy of recapturing their legendary days of scrub-crushing.
Unfortunately, best practice and good decision-making also depart at this point; a number of us (writer included) then launched ourselves into the fray in the belief that we were each experts and that our casting about would lead us to intersect with the track again. Alas, that was not to be and “the Old Brigade” led the newbies and others into a wall of fallen kanuka, scrub, bush lawyer and rapid and uncomfortable descent. We never did find the real track again and it gave new meaning to “leaving skin in the game”.
Eventually, we descended to the river to regroup and refresh and began the steep ascent up a spur which led to the ridge. In the lower reaches, it was quite open, with scattered beech trees. Up on the ridge, the track once again meandered through scrub. Most of the party had arrived at the Iron Whare well before mid-day, but a number of others were not feeling quite so energised and arrived later. We all enjoyed our lunches sitting on felled rounds of trees, while those who had not previously been to the historic site examined the hut and the adzed timber slabs which make up its sides.After lunch, we continued on up to the Middle Hill-Makahu junction and hence onto the Kaweka Flats, with a further stop at the Kaweka Flats Bivvy. From there, it was straightforward enough as we made our way back through beautiful beech forest, past the Makahu hut and out to the road end.
Despite what the Old Brigade had led members into, people seemed in a forgiving mood and some even said they enjoyed it! Which probably confirms non-trampers’ views that we are at least slightly mad!
Trampers: Alison Greer, Kelvin Shaw, Wai Anderson, Peter Slagter, Viv Bramley, John Marshall, Vic Bullock, Ted Angove, Paul Exeter, David Hills, Rachel Cowie, John Burrell, Robyn Smith, Bruce Hodgson, Mike Bull, Julia Mackie, Les O’Shea, Dorothy Sole, Murray Goss, Rose Fillary, Diane McBryde and writer Murray White