It was a weekend that would promise us a fair bit of rain! It was the weekend that Westport copped the flooding.
We left Takapuna under a grey cloud covered sky, and headed towards the Whakamarama road carpark, on the eastern side of the Kaimai rangers, arriving in rain at about 11.30am. The forecast was for rain to ramp up at about midday and ease about 4.00pm, so we decided to have an early lunch in the shelter of the bus before heading off at 12 pm.
The distance party destination for day one was heading for the Mangamuka hut, and day two complete an outer loop back to the bus, the Te Whare Okioki hut party were to do the inner loop with day one staying the night at the new Te Whare Okioki hut. Both parties headed of along the Ngamuwhine track and on to the Leyland O'Brien tramway track, which was flat and straight, being an old tramway track. It allowed us to cover a great deal of distance quickly.
We passed the odd tram wheel along the way and saw visible signs of the tram track itself. The Whakamarama sawmill was established in the area in 1912 and had several owners and names until 1947, and then Ngahere sawmills of Greerton in Tauranga relogged the area from 1962 to 1975 when the forest park was finally established. By then, I would think it was well and truly deforested.
So, you can imagine today's bush is a lot of regrowth which is well established with Red and Silver Beech, mosses, fungi, flaxes, pungas and several species of ferns. It was fairly constant rain by the time we got to the Ngamuwhine stream crossing which we crossed without any problems, a short time later we were climbing very gently up passing through man made cutouts where the tram line passed through, there was a fair bit of surface water by this stage flowing down the track and in places, as we got a little higher a bit of mud and tree roots to navigate over but nothing hard, generally pretty easy terrain to tramp in and the track well defined.
It was about 3pm when the rain had stopped, and we were at the intersection to head on to the Mangamuka hut, just another one hour fifteen minutes away. The track to the hut from the intersection was again easy and well maintained, in fact it had recently been re cleared in the last few weeks of us arriving and slightly dryer under foot than what we had previous. We arrived at the Mangamuka hut about 4.15pm, some fifteen kilometres and four hours later from our departure.
The hut was a rustic four bunker, occupied by two friendly hunters out for a weekend hunt from farming in Dargaville. As there was not enough bunks and some of us were damp, we erected our tents while the rain held off before returning to the hut to cook dinner and some of us having ago at keeping the fire going, before heading to our tents for the night.
We awoke the next day to what would be a relatively fine day, packed up and set off about 8.30am. Heading down the Te Tuhi track and onto the Ngamarama track, the track again was undulating and easy going, mostly downhill all the way. We passed lovely clearings that would be ideal for camping, the sky was becoming clearer as we went, but the lower reaches of the track were becoming very muddy in some places. It was a short sharp drop down some stairs, and we were into the open and soon arriving at the bus to be greeted by the Te Whare party and sunshine. A total of twelve Kilometres in a time of three hours fifty.
Special thanks to our drivers Craig and Bernhard.