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All the elements

The hardy souls of Gisborne Canoe and Tramping Club set off for a hike on Otokorau Station, despite the weather report. Geoff Cobb writes about the sun, the wind and the rain, as well as rainbows and terrific views . . .

Reports of major flooding, weather warnings and watches — whose bright idea was it to continue with our planned trip?

Mine of course, despite learning just before going, of “horrible” conditions beyond Matawai. In part it was too late to cancel, but mainly I was relying on a forecast that promised sunny conditions, albeit windy, but also warm.

Well, we got that, but a bit extra.

After cancellations by some less foolhardy souls, we were 17 in number who met up at the woolshed with Rod Faram who was very kindly allowing us to walk on his place. Not only that, he was even coming with us, at least for the first part.

We set off with the promised sunshine beaming down, though Rod had mentioned they had 40mm of rain overnight.

The walk would first be alongside the Waihuka River, on what was once SH2 (now re-routed on to the former railway line), to then climb up on to the ridge above the river. This we would follow to re-descend and then return.

At least we were spared that other winter tramping bugbear, mud, as the track had been re-metalled to facilitate logging of woodlots on the farm.

Rod commented on the ins and outs of this enterprise, not quite the panacea some might think, including the tens-of-thousands dollar cost of upgrading the bridge over the Parihohonu Stream, roaring under our feet.

Parihohonu is also the name of the adjoining farm; previously divided between two sons, Rod now has the satisfaction of seeing it all back under one ownership.

Crossing the bridge over the Waihuka, we began the steady climb. From about 250m altitude at the woolshed, we would reach a height of over 550m. Increasingly buffeted by the wind, as we rose we could see cloud and rain further up the valley, and sure enough as we settled down part way up to have our morning tea, the wet stuff arrived.

Fortunately it was more a skirmish than outright assault, and the wind dried us almost as fast as it came. But we had recompense with a great view back down, framed by a magnificent, perfect rainbow. Cameras were clicking furiously.

Then it was upward to reach the ridge top. The fence here was interspersed with white posts, marking the gas pipeline serving Gisborne, directly under our feet. We could see by the white markers its roller-coaster route, resolutely sticking to summits.

'Amazing what you learn out with the tramping club'

I was in the district when it was laid, and had often wondered about the choice of such a seemingly difficult line. Rod explained it was apparently to avoid numerous water crossings the valley route would have entailed. So now I knew — amazing what you learn out with the tramping club.

We proceeded along the top, mostly being assailed by the wind, up and down, the wind dropping as though turned off by a switch when in the lee of a hill top, then returning again with renewed force.

But at least, as predicted, it was a warm nor’wester, the direction we were looking towards the Waikohu valley, down into a number of incised tributary valleys, hills in the distance, all a brilliant green.

Rod, wisely, left us at this point, and we proceeded into a stand of rewarewa.

The group had spread out in our wanderings, so we stopped to gather at a delightful sheltered spot in the trees. The sun had returned, and some in the group obviously decided it was time for food, so we all settled down for lunch.

We were at the edge of the worst weather, more cloud was steaming over and after we set off again rain set in, battering us horizontally with the wind as we wended our way. I had been weighing up how much further to carry on but the weather now decided that and we were thankful to drop out of the tempest at the next track down.

We were rewarded with another rainbow, but the rain had not really been all that drenching and we soon dried out as the sun re-appeared.

Then it was onward, past the old Glenroa Station to re-cross the river and home, pausing to admire the native misletoe perched on a lone tree complete with “Old Highway” sign, where we regained the former State Highway.

Despite the battering I think everyone had enjoyed being out, the views and the company.

Thanks to Rod and family for allowing us to come and for all his info which adds much interest to the walk.

Lots of weather: A wind-battered mamaku tree fern, a rainbow and a shower from the heights of Otokorau Station.Picture by Gillian Ward
A bit extra: A rainbow lifted the spirits of the hikers on Otokorai Station. Picture by Gay Young
TIME FOR A BREAK: A sheltered spot for lunch, under remnant bush. Picture by Gay Young
GOING UP: A steady climb followed the crossing of the Waihuka River.Picture byGay Young
BACK ON TRACK: Old Highway road took the hikers back to the former state highway.Picture byGay Young