Sparrowhawk Bivvy, Ruahine FP, Friday October 23, 2015
With the tramp and farmer access arranged by Alison and Julia, it was only the weather forecast of strong winds and scattered showers that created any doubts as we approached the end of the farm road and geared up.
Ted led the way over the farmland until we reached the confluence of Gold Creek and the Makaroro River. About 100 metres up Gold Creek was the DoC sign for the Sparrowhawk track: 3 hours 40 minutes.
We followed Ted on up a series of steep climbs interspersed with flat and (as usual) some downhill stretches to ease muscles on the way up – only to test them for sure on the way back. The bush walking was enjoyable, protecting us from the worst of the wind but also obscuring any views either forward or back. As the 2 1/2 hour mark was reached, the wind velocity had increased to near-gale. Ted stopped and told us there was about a 20-minute climb past an exposed scree area but the bivvy was tucked into a sheltered hollow before the tops.
The track skirted the scree slope, but only just! Luckily the wind was pushing us towards the leatherwood drop-off rather than the scree. The fact that parts of the track were almost undercut by the expanding open face and there were only specific hand and footholds for about 100 metres (all the while climbing steeply) left little error room for the fainthearted or bumble-footed!But Sparrowhawk bivvy (with a dead rat recently removed from the replenished water tank -according to the Hut book) proved a sheltered refuge for lunch. Venturing about 100 metres to the tops brought the challenge of remaining upright as we peered through low cloud at the ridge leading towards Sunrise or down the steep slopes towards Maropea Forks. The informative source that all hut books provide warned that the route back towards Sunrise was becoming overgrown with leatherwood in some of the hollows. But that was a February entry and the tracks near the bivvy had all been recently cut.
The trip back down seemed easier than coming up – even the steep narrow scree skirting section – and Gold Creek was reached without incident and in fast time.
The leisurely trek back over the farm allowed time to admire the tui and kereru enjoying the kowhai flowers alongside the river. The wind had abated a little for the trip out and overall a great day was enjoyed by all.
Thanks again to Alison and Julia for arranging access and transport.
Trampers: Ted Angove, Robyn Smith, Viv Bramley, Sally Wood and reporter Barrie Ridler