Unoffical Long Weekend = June 1996
Unoffical Long Weekend = June 1996.
About two of us left the pipe bridge at 6.45 on a cold blustery Friday night in the niddle of winter. A thin crescent moon gave us enough light to see faint shadows as we walked across the paddocks. Still, we reached Chau Hut (or what's left of it) in good times and sped on up the river-bed. Last minute evasive action stopped us going up the North Ohau and we finally hurst into South Chau Hut at. 10.15pm.
A freezing night brought a light covering of snow right down to the hut but Saturday dawmed brilliantly fine. We left at 7:45am and trudged through the snow towards Te Matawei. From this-track it took only twenty minutes to drop into a miserable trickle called the Otaki River, and two hours later we sat on the top of Butchers Knob after too many, far too many false summits. Stopping here for lunch we could see lots of mighty snow-covered peaks all around us but the snow on slopes facing the sun was rapidly melting. We set off southwards down the Main Range as far as Draccphyllun Knob where we intended to make use of the NZFS traeck 'from the Otaki River to within 200 yards of the top'. (Quote from one of the cullers, who cut it.) One hour later we reacher the first blaze. On dropping into the Otaki we found ourselves amongst a large crowd from another club also heading for Mid-Otaki but a forty minute sprint got us into Mid-Otaki Hut in 5th and 6th places.
We had considered going on to Waitewaewae that evening thus getting on the right side of the river but decided against it because i) it was late ii) we had qualified for bunks at Mid-Otaki iii) the weather was still perfect so the river could not possibly flood.
As we left on Sunday morning we were forced to use the wet weather 'track' and only just managed to cross the raging muddy waters of Kelliher Creek half an hour below the hut. We bumbled on dawnstream for about an hour after this, losing the track n times and finding it again n-1 tines, before we took a realistic approach and headed back for Mid-Otaki. We passed the afternoon sitting in our pits, eating and playing dots, etc., while the rain pounded ceaselessly en the roof. [unclear: xx].page break
We knew more how to sleep fifteen in a six bunk hut that night.
The rain easced somewhat overnight, and we amoke on monday morning to find the weather overcast but dry, and the river low and clear. Heaver as soon as we left the hut the deluge oame and continued undiminished for the rest of the day. To We tramped in the river-bed for the frist half hour then took te the sidle tracks as the river was rising fast, Process was slow, one side streaw was paticularly difficult to cross, and we soon reached the dreaded stage where the track stopped abruptly in the middle of nowhere. We continued sidling along the riverbank and finally arrived within 200 yards of Waitewaewae - but witha large volume of thick brown river in between. However we joined us with the other party who had come down with us, and managed to blunder acressthe river linked up in groups of seven or so. The river varied from waist deep to chest waist deep to chest deep depending on how for off the button our feet were.
The other party stayed for the night at Waiteweew ae, while we forged on in the gathering dusk, with some strange notion that the worst was ever. The roce against darkness ended at the start of the tramline with darkness the victor. The moon had groom somewhat since the previous Friday and WE had enough light to tell for sure that we were not an the track. In order to find the suspension bridge over the Otaki in the dark, one has to violate all the principles of common sense. The some applies for finding the way from that bridge to the Fields Track. The basic rule is:- 'Stop and think which way is test then go the ether way, ' As a result it took five hours from Waitewaewae to the cottage, but we only walked five minutes meet the carpark before we got a lift to Otaki with just eneuoh time te miss the last train to town. (If you are out late at night at Otaki Forks its best to be so late that people are on their way in tc look for you,) From there Mr. and Mrs Grant picked us up and we were home some time early on Tuesday morning. Party: Nick Whitten, Malcoln Grant.