Tara Tama Traverse

For the third time in a month I found myself wandering the hills with the same group of hardy souls - this time headed for Tara Tama.  I had been fairly busy with other stuff so I hadn't really done any research into the route, but I new it was proper West Coast country and was probably going to be quite the challenge...

We departed for Rocky Creek Hut at 8.30ish on Friday night.  There was some mention of 'it should only take a couple of hours'.  I thought we might make it there sometime around midnight - even that turned out to be optimistic!  It started off rather well (except the little bit where the group split in two and the back half got temporarily misplaced), with good track and fast travel.  However upon reaching Rocky Creek the track vanished.  We spent about 40 minutes hunting around for it, reluctant to get into the creek itself, as it was quite high from recent rainfall.  With no track forthcoming, we had no other choice  to carefully pick our way up the creek, and after a while we did find the track again.  The next 4 hours or so were spent carefully negotiating our way up Rocky Creek, sometimes on small sections of track, other times in the creek itself which wasn't so full further up.  One of us was briefly assaulted by a blue duck which was not surprisingly quite startled to see us.  With a tired group and constant navigation checking, progress was limited to about 500m an hour, but eventually we got to the hut and finally made it into sleeping bags around 3am.

Needless to say we were operating to Gentleman's Hours on Saturday morning, leaving at 8.30am.  I had been out in my bivvy bag while the other four squeezed into the two man hut.  The way up to the tops looked pretty grim from Rocky Creek, but the beta said it was a goer so go we did.  Everything was going well until we had a slight lapse in judgement and decided to take an inviting looking debris chute up to to a spur instead of staying in the upper creek, which had to be sidled in places to avoid small waterfalls.

Ascending a debris chute above Rocky Creek

Ascending a debris chute above Rocky Creek


The chute was great until it ran out, at which point it became a diabolical mess of dense bush, and after 30 minutes of getting only 100m or less we bailed back down to the creek down a different gully.  From here it was straightforward to the tops, with a short but relatively pleasant in comparison bush bash, and a 40m section of very steep (70 degrees) tussock, which involved fully weighting the tussock to haul oneself up - a few miscalculations by some resulted in a couple of small falls down the slope, and one even had to be manhandled up a few sections due to fatigued arms!  We all eventually made it up for a celebratory nap on the stunning tops, with Tara Tama now in full view.

Quick nap on the tops

Quick nap on the tops

We headed along the tops a little way to set up camp next to a tarn - for what was to be quite a chilly night as we had a clear sky.  Some tasty dehy rounded out the evening nicely for an early bedtime.

Camp for the night

Camp for the night

The next morning the birds woke me up with their noisy chit chat at 4.30am, 30 minutes before my alarm was due to go off.  Some seemed reluctant to get up for some reason(!), but we managed to get packed up and heading up the mountain by 6am.  Some cloud and fog had sneaked in during the early morning, so views were intermittent until we reached about 1600m at which point the sun pierced the clouds, and the skys opened up to a beautiful day.  Snow conditions were excellent and provided speedy travel all the way to the top.  The top though, is only half way...

Nearing the top of Tara Tama

Nearing the top of Tara Tama

Getting down into Dunns Creek was mostly straightforward except for one small section which took a little bit of searching before a suitable route was found.

Dunns Creek was a bit more fullsome than was expected, and a number of interesting crossings were encountered, including one which involved myself going into full swimming mode, and nearly everyone else coming close at one point or another, but we made it down to the Taipo after and couple of hours in one piece.

Negotiating Dunns Creek

Negotiating Dunns Creek

At this point it was becoming obvious that we weren't going to make it out during daylight, but we didn't think much of it as it seemed a pretty straightforward route out.  We used Scotty's Cableway to cross the Taipo, and continued down the river.  Unfortunately we didn't follow the track the whole time, thinking we could just walk down the river bank or along the flats.  The problem was the flats were full of gorse, and the riverbank was slow and wet.  We attempted to find the track again just beyond Dillions Homestead, but there weren't any cairns or markers.  I can only assume that many of the track indicators were wiped out in 2013 during the extensive flooding that happened in the area.  Luckily for us, we bumped into a couple of hunters that were on their way out also, and knew the way very well.  With their lead we had no trouble walking out the rest of the way.

A massive feed at Maccas followed before managed to squeak in a couple of hours sleep before having to get up for work on Monday...

| May 16th, 2015 | Posted in Storytime |

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