Trip information, past trips and contacts for Wanderers Tramping Club

Whakamarama 26 September 2021

Despite the gloomy weather forecast, ten keen Grade 2+ trampers, led by Colin and Grant, set off to the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park for a supposedly six hour walk. The plan was to do a loop, starting on the Leyland O’Brien Tramway Track, leaving the track to take a scantily marked route to Salvation Hut, then upstream to a nearby waterfall (location to be determined) and back to the van via the Ngamarama track.

The tramp started with raincoats, ponchos, overtrousers, and umbrella (for a sleepy yawning Aaron), but the happy trampers still set off with such enthusiasm that ten minutes later we found ourselves back at the van having discovered we had walked the short loop track and we all missed the right turn at the junction to the Leyland O’Brien Tramway Track.

The second time was a little more successful and we were so enjoying the beautiful native bush we again missed the trail on the right that would take us across the stream and onto the route to Salvation Hut. Not to be dismayed, we turned back, found the trail, waded through the stream, climbed up the rise and the trail seemed to end.

Our leaders felt that maybe this wasn’t the correct spot to cross the stream, so we retraced our steps through the stream to get back to the Leyland O’Brien Tramway Track and carried on walking further in the hope of finding where to cross the stream. Without sufficient markings, nor any signage, we were at least able to enjoy the historical significance of the area noticing remains of the tram line and a set of bogie wheels on the side of the track. Colin and his GPS were an enigma to the rest of us and he also appeared to be a little perplexed by it all, but on seeing the bogie wheels, he optimistically declared “Where there’s a wheel, there’s a way!” Continuing on and not being able to find the trail to cross the stream, our fearless leaders thought that perhaps that where we had originally crossed the stream was perhaps the right place to cross, so we doubled back and crossed that stream for the third time that morning. The clever ones at the back of the group who were smug about not getting their feet wet the first time, soon lost their dry feet as this was indeed correct. Our leaders were able to find the trail and carry on.

We had no difficulty locating Salvation Hut but were thankful we weren’t relying on it to accommodate us. It is a private hut built by a father & his two teenage sons in either the late 1960's or the 1980’s (websites disagree) which sadly has not been maintained but we all agreed should be renovated as it would have made a wonderful coffee station on a cold wet September day. A recent Hutbagger review shared that the hut “Is in a pretty sorry state. Would rather sleep on the ground outside...” Needless to say, this was not the place to shelter indoors for a lunch stop. Instead, we stopped at a nearby clearing and the weather gods gave us a hint of sunshine by which to enjoy our sandwiches. We realised at this point, we had only done 1/3 of the loop so it was going to be a short lunch break and a long day.

Off we headed to find the waterfall with no name, through what is known as the Long Swamp which lived up to its name; swampy, boggy and very wet underfoot. Little did we know this was tame compared to what was to come. The trail seemed to end at the river, so the logical thinking was that we needed to walk upstream to find the waterfall. Half of us set off whilst the other half rested on the bank, happy to watch the others get wet. However, two of us turned back when the water got above our knees and left our two fearless leaders with newbie William to carry on.

These three eventually arrived back having abandoned hope of finding the waterfall and assumed we would be able to find a trail running parallel with the stream which should get us there. After a couple of forks in the trail, both of which were dead-ends, and no markers, it was back to the river and the realisation the river was the trail and it was deeper than expected due to the torrential rain. It was at this point our intrepid leaders were renamed Wallace and Gromit – they were taking us on a day filled with unexpected twists and turns for which there was always a solution. So, everyone gingerly made their way upstream trying to dodge the most slippery of the rocks. Eventually we found the trail leading up from the river to take us over the ridge. Not to be outdone by that waterfall, our intrepid leaders didn’t take the trail but carried on upstream to see how much further it was to the waterfall, and soon discovered that on their first recce, they had only just missed the waterfall as it was just around the corner.

Wallace (Grant) eagerly made his way back to the trampers waiting on the riverbank and encouraged us to carry on that extra 50 metres upstream to see this little piece of paradise. “You’ve come this far, are already wet, and it’s just another 50 metres”. He was of course correct. It was a magnificent little Garden of Eden – mossy banks, ferns, clear water and what would have been a fabulous swimming hole had it been a little warmer. Definitely worth the effort.

After this pleasant interlude, it was back downstream to the trail that climbed up and over the ridge. The trail subsequently met the Ngamarama Track which was very well marked and easy to follow but that was when the true Kaimai mud began. It was ankle deep, flowed into the boots of those without gaiters and there was no escaping it in the cuttings where the only way to get one’s foot out of the mud was to drive the other foot in for leverage. And when the mud wasn’t quite as deep it was slip, slip, slippery. Some of us had reasonable mud skiing skills, others didn’t fare quite as well. Stone hopping was avoided in the next few streams as we all tried to find deep water in which to rinse off the boots, which fortunately coincided with an improvement in the grading of the track and some welcome gravel and steps. This obviously meant the van wasn’t too far away and after 8 hours 15 minutes we all found ourselves a rock to sit on and gladly removed the wet mud-caked clothing and boots.

A big thanks to Wallace and Gromit for A Grand Day Out. A long day but there was a lot of fun and laughs were had by all – Colin, Grant, Aaron, Ron, Tony & Rose, Carol, Glenys, Lynette and newcomer William.


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