The Wangapeka Track
Daughter Starts the Wangakepa
The first stage of Daughter of Moosey's North West Nelson Loop Trip was to walk the Wangapeka track, starting on the east end near Tapawera. This is Part One of my great couch-hiking adventure, enjoyed in the summer of 2012. You can guess what 'couch-hiking' is, hee hee...
'Tell me about the Wangapeka Track' I asked, sitting in my kitchen.
'The Little Wanganui River is not little' replied Daughter sternly, spreading red and yellow layers on the pizza for our evening meal. 'No, no - you have to start at the beginning!' I exclaimed. 'Moosey readers may be two-tooth ewes, spring lambs, or old rams - but they all expect to be shepherded slowly along a hiking route. Didn't you keep a daily diary?'
So the tramping diary was duly produced, full of rather terse, minimalist phrases: 'Stone Hut. Blue Ducks. Lunch salami crackers cheese.'
And a Wangapeka haiku, the poetic result of this five day trip. Daughter explained that she had written a haiku for each stage of the Loop Trip. Did the Moosey website readers like poetry?
'You're just going to have to tell me the ordinary things.' I said, fingers poised on the computer keyboard. 'In ordinary words.'
Tell me about the Wangapeka Track...
- 'The Wangapeka is a historic route, dating from the depression when gold miners needed access to the West Coast. And did you know, Mum, that they used to drove sheep over this route? How did they do that? Anyway, it's basically a rivers and saddles trip. It follows the Wangapeka up to its headwaters, you go over the Wangapeka Saddle to the headwaters of the Karamea River, then up the Taipo River which sets you at the foot of the Little Wanganui Saddle.'
'Wait' I said, wanting more details. 'So far this is all about the rivers. It's like geography. I need more. What were the huts like?'
- 'The huts were all empty. On the north branch of the Wangapeka there's a little, faithfully restored 4-bunk hut - Cecil Kings Hut. We stayed here for the first night. It's my favourite hut in the whole of New Zealand. Mum - even though you've got Pond Cottage in the garden, you'd love this hut. We should go there.'
Cecil King's Hut
Daughter was keen to finish this trip of rivers, and like a flash she was back at the foot of the saddle, in filthy weather.
- 'On a clear day it would have been an enjoyable trot up to the Little Wanganui Saddle. For us it was wet and slippery, with no visibility, but no less enjoyable. The Little Wanganui River was in serious flood, and our track turned into a thundering creek with waterfalls which we had to cross. We saw blue ducks, and hundreds of stoat traps. It's a bird-noisy valley, so the traps are working well. But, remember if you go there Mum, the Little Wanganui is not little.'
She showed me the Wangapeka Haiku, the first of four encapsulating the four stages of the Loop Trip, written in her diary amongst scribbly bullet-point notes about weather and meals.
- Wangapeka Haiku
- I saw two blue ducks.
Dreaming orange triangles.
Harden up, softie.
Thus ended Daughter's first five day trip, from Rolling River car park through to the Wangapeka Road car park, on the Wangapeka Track. This is Part One of my great couch-hiking adventures in the summer of 2012.