Facebook    YouTube 
 

| Home | Photography | Diary | Travels | Treks | Blogs |

 
 
 
 
Home > Treks > Waikaremoana > 4.3
PreviousNext
 

Turquoise inlet

Turquoise inlet
 
 
   
   
 
 

THE SIGN at Tapuaenui Junction said Waiharuru Hut was an hour and a half away. We had crossed the saddle in slightly less time, and was making good progress. The times on the signs today were accurate. The sign pointing in the other direction said the Whanganui Hut was one hour away. It was eleven o’clock, and had two hours before the boat will be arriving. We were making very good time not having chewed up any of our buffer time.

Tapuaenui Camping Ground

Tapuaenui Camping Ground

We followed the track from the thick grove of beech forest to a large grassy area full of large thistles, brought over from England and now growing rampant in New Zealand. It returned into the forest above the pristine lake of turquoise water in Tapuaenui Bay. The hills were covered in thick scrub so clear views of the lake were few and far between. Where the scrub did clear, we had good views with toi toi growing in the foreground.

There were a few black swan on the lake soaking up the sun. Looking across to the other side I could see a thin descending scar across the forested hills. This was the main highway between Wairoa and Murupara, heading up towards the Taupeupe Saddle on the main divide of the Huiarau Range (named after the feathers of the huia bird used by the Maori for cultural purposes) at 923 metres above sea level. The road winds its way around the other side of the lake. Although it was a highway, it was a gravel road running continuously gravel for ninety kilometres from Aniwaniwa to Murupara. This section was particularly rough due to the steep terrain. I didn’t see any cars following the road, and if there were any, the rain of the past two days would be keeping the dust of the gravel road down.

One of the coves of Whanganui

One of the coves of Whanganui

The huia was the largest species of New Zealand wattlebird endemic to the eastern North Island in a line from Whakatane to Bulls from 1840 (all over the island beforehand)  The last unconfirmed sighting occurred near the pass in the 1960s. It was black with orange wattles. It became extinct last century due to hunting for their mounted specimens and clearing of their forests by early European settlers, although their numbers had already been reduced to concerning levels before the European settlers first arrived due to the Maori hunting them. With the arrival of the Europeans many of their forests were cleared stripping them of their habitat. They were unable to survive in regenerating forest, or the exotic pine forests across the other side of the mountains. Despite the huge areas of native forest still in this area, they completely died out with very few sightings after the early 1900s.

One of the coves of Whanganui

One of the coves of Whanganui

The exotic forests on the other side of the mountains was for many years the world’s largest exotic forest. The fast-growing pine trees were grown for their timber to be used for construction by the rapidly expanding European population. Unlike the highly biodiverse native forests, the pine plantations were very sterile. The trees blocked out nearly all of the light and the thick leaf litter of pine needles made for a very barren forest floor as nothing could grow there. The birds and other native animals did not settle in these exotic forests forcing them to remain in the ever-diminishing native forests.

The track is good

The track is good

The track became a little rough, but not enough to slow us down too much. In flat sections the track was rather boggy underfoot, but without any significant puddles or bogs. We continued through thick scrub with the occasional grassy patch. A few trees had fallen over the track creating a few minor obstacles but otherwise we were still making good progress. Fortunately there was very little undulation.

I found some round leaf fern growing beside the track, usually found in drier areas where other species of fern is unable to survive.

40 kilometre post

40 kilometre post

We reached a gap where I could see through the scrub across the lake to a distant grass clearing at the end of the Whanganui Inlet. This clearing marked the mouth of the Hopuruahine Stream which drains down from near the Taupeupe Saddle where the road crosses over the Huiarau Range, and is by far the largest stream flowing into the lake. It is also where the track meets the road, but most people don’t walk it that far. Nearly everyone gets picked by up boat at one of the launch pickup points. For the Jan and Ken, the point was at the left of the grass clearing. For the rest of us it was earlier in the headwaters of the Whanganui Inlet which swept away to the left of the next spur.

Track through the scrub

Track through the scrub

Hopuruahine means to capture the native flax that grows around this area, I assume being the same species at Waiopaoa. Flax is a big part of Maori culture. The very strong fibres of the flax leaves are used to make clothing and baskets, and mats for their houses. Flax tended to grow in swampy areas, so the mouth of a large stream into a lake was the ideal place for it to grow. The Maori built their villages near the swamps so they could harvest and use the flax.

The early Maori used to follow the river upstream to the pass and cross over to their lands of Murupara heading down towards the Bay of Plenty. They created a walking track through the magnificent forest. This would have been a very remote area for them to travel. The lake was so isolated it made a good refuge for outlaws escaping the armed Europeans who pursued them.

Fallen tree

Fallen tree

The most famous of these outlaws was the Maori warrior prophet Te Kooti who was originally from the Tuhoe tribal lands, of Ruapani blood. He moved eastward to the remote Chatham Islands in the 1860s. He returned to the North Island in 1865 at the times of the Maori wars to fight the Europeans, but upon finding his group was greatly outnumbered by the gun wielding Europeans, in 1868 he sought refuge here in his homelands where it was still very remote and unfamiliar to the foreigner settlers.

He sheltered here until 1872 when the Tuhoe were conquered by the colonial settlers. From here he escaped to the King Country where he stayed under the protection of the Maori King. There he developed his religion to which would be widely followed by the Maori.

Whanganui Inlet

Whanganui Inlet

The headlands rising out of the turquoise Whanganui Inlet became quite steep and the track a bit rocky as we reached the 40 kilometre milestone. We were forty kilometres out from Onepoto and just two to go to our pick-up point.

From here the bush thickened and tree ferns began to appear again. The muddy sections seemed to be behind us now as we entered a small cove and crossed a small wooden bridge over an almost dry creek. The forest quickly increased in age and height as we rose around a few small headlands.

Sign to the landing point

Sign to the landing point

The track finally dropped to a very small grassy patch where a laminated A4 piece of paper attached to a two metre high twiggy kanuka shrub said this was the pick-up point. Another laminated sign directly underneath it pointed along the main track to the toilets, which I presumed were at the Whanganui Hut.

We turned off the main track to the right along a short rough path to a large flat exposed rock where Jeff, Fiona and Roger were resting. We had made it. Ken and Jan had continued onto the Hopuruahine pickup point, so we would never see them again.

Whanganui Landing

Whanganui Landing

The bluff had a few very small shrubs growing on it, but it was mostly clear no doubt due to the large numbers of people who have waited here for boats in the past, and perhaps also due to the mice and rabbits that had settled here when the lake was lowered.

Fortunately the vermin wasn’t such a problem now. In 1998 the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (as it was known as the time) successfully negotiated ongoing resource consents to continue to use the lake water for electricity generation until 2032 as it had done since the late 1940s. The agreements included operating limits on the lake – the water level varying only by three metres at the most, ranging from 580.29m above sea level to 583.29 metres above sea level. When the water level approaches the maximum, floodgates can open at Onepoto to let the excess water out.

Whanganui Landing

Whanganui Landing

They also had to use a range of environmental monitoring programs, including some to control the vermin population along the lake’s new regenerating shelves. The vermin populations impact on the bird populations which we had discovered are pretty sparse here as they are in most of New Zealand.

The company also monitors the vegetation along the shelving. It also monitors the trout population in the lake. There are both brown and rainbow trout in the lake, and fishing licenses are available from the Waikaremoana Motor Camp. I hadn’t seen anyone fishing on the lake. I think all the fishing happens from around Aniwaniwa.

Whanganui Landing

Whanganui Landing

Looking out from the bluff, the water was crystal clear, creating a deep blue channel passing the rock for the boat to easily land. The channel concealed the deep gully where the stream flowed towards the main river heading towards the distant gorge. A small post with another laminated A4 page indicated the pick-up point.

We could see out towards the entrance of the Whanganui Inlet which swept around to the right behind Tapuaenui Point into the main lake. A gentle sea breeze was bringing small wavelets breaking on the small beach at the bottom of the rock.

Towards Whanganui Hut

Towards Whanganui Hut

With over an hour to go to our pick-up time, and needing to use a toilet, I headed back to the main track and continued following it through the tall beech forest. The forest quickly thickened with large trees climbing above the rising valley. There was still a clear area where the lake extended back towards the mouth of the stream.

After about five minutes I reached a gully with a small bridge over the Whanganui Stream. The huge inlet we had followed from Tapuaenui gave no clues as to this diminutive stream hardly more than a trickle through the forest floor even after a couple of days of rain. Once across the short bridge I could see through the dark bush to the hut, sitting at the back of a grassy clearing.

Whanganui Hut

Whanganui Hut

I ascended the short slope from the stream through the dark forest into the strikingly bright grassy clearing. There were no trees overhead allowing the bright sunlight to brilliantly illuminate the almost florescent grass leading up to the hut.

The Whanganui Hut was a small version of the other huts, about the size of the Marauiti Hut but without the ghastly colour scheme, appearing to be more recently built, perhaps in the late 1980s to early 1990s. The inside of the hut was painted a soft peach colour which was a lot better on the eye than Marauiti.

Whanganui Hut

Whanganui Hut

There was nobody in the hut. I guessed this would only be used by people getting picked up early in the morning or being dropped off too late in the afternoon to have time to cross the saddle to the next hut. The small bunk room had eighteen bunks on three levels.

The hut merged into the forest with a nice grassy patch extending from the front balcony across to the toilets on the other side. It would be a very pleasant place to stay here at the back of the turquoise Whanganui Inlet.

Whanganui Hut

Whanganui Hut

This was as far as I was going. The track continued past the hut heading out the other side of the bay going around a scenic point looking into the Huiarau Inlet and the Hopuruahine River to the suspension bridge to the road. The point would be where Ken and Jan were being picked up.

The boat arrives

The boat arrives

After my toilet break I returned along the track back to the boat pickup point. We sat relaxing on the rocky beach for another fifteen minutes before I saw the boat tearing around the corner into the inlet. Over the following minutes, it followed the deep channel towards us before turning around and beaching on the bank behind us about twenty metres upstream from where we were resting. It had arrived about twenty minutes early ready to take us back to civilisation.

PreviousNext

 

About this Page

Date:

 

Location:

Country:

 

Latitude:

Longitude:

Altitude:

03 March 2016

 

Te Urewera

New Zealand

 

38°44'S
177°03'E

587 - 607m ASL

 

Google Maps Link

 

 

 

Jeff

What is happening in Walkabout Jeff's hometown?

 

 

 

Jeff

Who is Walkabout Jeff?

Any normal person's idea of going out involves going to the local pub for a drink with a few mates. Walkabout Jeff isn't normal.

 

Read more...

 

 

 

Follow Walkabout Jeff

Facebook    YouTube

 

 
 
 

| Home | Photography | Diary | Travels | Treks | Blogs |

 
© 2001-2019 walkaboutjeff.com - Copyright - Disclaimer - Who is Walkabout Jeff?