Southern Ruahine Crossing, Wednesday 8 November 2023
Banner Photo: The view from the Ruahine FP border, after crossing the farmland on the western side
Five set out in two cars from Taradale at 7.30am, collecting Colin at Maraekakaho on the way down SH 50. We stopped at the start of Maharahara Road just the other side of Dannevirke and rejigged people, gear and cars; I drove Alison’s car over to the other end of the track – Opawe Road – with Elly and Colin and our day packs, but left the gear we wanted when we finished in my car with Alison.
She drove my car to the Kumeti campsite with their gear. So we had to remember to exchange keys when we met halfway so we could drive home and not have to wait for the others going the other way. It would be a long walk back if we forgot that!
It was another 50 minutes to drive to the Opawe Road end. This is at 270m and Elly quickly pointed out we had to climb to 1095 at Maharahara lookout – Thanks Elly! Only 825 metres…
We left at 10.40am and up the farmland we went, muddy boots already, and 20 minutes later we were at the entrance to the forest. The weather was cool and good for tramping, with very little wind. Layers came off and we were up the forest track – a good track, though steep and muddy and quite slippery. There were beautiful trees and good views across the Pohingina valley behind us. Some of the track is quite a scramble, with rocky climbs.
After 2½ hours, we reached the signposted Maharahara lookout and, at exactly the same time, Alison and Juliet arrived. It was now 12.45pm, so perfect for lunch. It had taken them almost 3½ hours. We were off again 30 minutes later, a good track for a while then through the tussock grasses and it was hard to see where to put your feet.
Going along the tops, there are a couple of steep downs and ups; we all got quite muddy, particularly in the bum/shorts department! The Kiritaki Hut turnoff is clear, about an hour after the lookout and the hut looks not far away.
The sign says 1-2 hours but we all agreed it is much more like two. The total along the tops took nearly two hours; it is quite a long way.
The track changed from grasses to leatherwood which is taking over the track and, if left, may be impassable in a couple of years. Once past the leatherwood, the track had been cleared and it was easy walking. As we started the steep descent, the track was great – steep but good. The sun came out and there was a lot of birdsong, and white flowers – three white petals on grassy leaves. Ted knew what they were of course, but I forget.
We were at the river by about 3.50pm. It was shallow and clear and the route ends about 20 minutes away. Juliet had told us there were the remains of a very rusty car close to the exit, so we were pleased to see that.
Alison said she hadn’t got wet feet in the river, which just proves she really does walk on water because ours were soaking wet! Ted had brought the car right down to the track end so it was next to the river. Our total time was six hours including breaks. This is not a track for beginners, but we thoroughly enjoyed our day. Thanks for the company, guys.
Trampers: Elly Govers, Juliet Gillick, Alison Greer, Ted Angove, Colin Jones and reporter Di Reid