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Aorangi Crossing Part 1

PART 1 : PLANNING. “Real” Aorangi Crossing (instead of mid-Tararua crossing via Carkeek Hut) - December 11-13 2020

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t allow us (Paul F(leader), John S, Steve P and Gerald L) to make our mid-Tararua crossing. The proposed route had us fording the Waiohine River at Park Forks, and after making enquiries from some of Gerald’s mates in the Tararua Tramping Club, we were advised not to attempt to cross if the flow at the Waiohine Gorge was above 15 m3/sec (typical flow for this time of year is around 7m3/sec). Realtime flow rates are published on the Regional Council’s web site, so in the days leading up to the trip I was looking at weather forecasts and river flows multiple times a day. Bad weather earlier in the week saw the river peak at over 400 m3/sec, and continued rain in the hills meant it wasn’t dropping as fast as we would have liked. However John, Steve and I were using this trip as a shakedown for our Dusky Track walk in March, so were very keen to go, given we had all booked time off work.

In the days leading up to the trip we went from plan A to plan G (each one being discarded in turn as the weather didn’t play ball), before we finalised our plans for the weekend. 

• Plan A (river crossing on Friday): Holdsworth, Jumbo, McGregor Biv, Park Forks (river crossing), Carkeek, Lancaster, Arete, Te Matawai, South Ohao, Poads Road

o Cancelled as the river was definitely going to be too high on the Friday

• Plan B (river crossing on Sunday): walk plan A backwards (start from Poads Road)

o Cancelled as the river wasn’t looking like it would have dropped enough by Sunday either

• Plan C (smaller river crossing on Sunday): start with plan B, but from Carkeek cross the river further up and come up onto Dorset Ridge and out to The Pines via Mitre Peak

o Cancelled as we were uncertain of the route, and the river might still be too high

• Plan D (no river crossing): start with plan B, but after overnighting at Carkeek, return to Lancaster then walk out to The Pines via Mitre Peak

o Cancelled because of the 4 hour back-track on the tops (from Carkeek to Lancaster), in forecast bad weather, and the long journey out

• Plan E cancel the whole trip

o We really needed a hard tramp to check we were ready for the Dusky

• Plan F (no river crossing and no Tararua crossing): go in from Holdsworth, around the Broken Axe pinnacles and out to The Pines via Mitre Peak

o Galeforce winds (and showers) forecast for all of Friday and Saturday morning scuppered this plan 

• Plan G (G for “go”): head to the Aorangis instead

o Where the weather forecast was good, and there had been little rain all week

Plan G was only settled on at 8pm on the Thursday night (we were planning to start off at 8am the next morning) – email, texts and Zoom are your friends in these sorts of situations.

Having agreed in our 8pm Zoom call to head to the Aorangis, I then had to find a route that would keep us busy for 3 days. I settled on a “true” Aorangi Crossing, taking us from Cape Palliser to Ruakokopatuna (DoC advertise a 2-3 day Aorangi Crossing, but that only goes in a semi-circle from Cape Palliser to the Pinnacles).