Kāweka Forest Park, Hawke’s Bay – October 2022
Over a three-day weekend in spring, a hardy crew of 17 volunteers, one DOC ranger and the Backcountry Trust’s very own Megan Dimozantos set to work on a range of tracks in the eastern Kāweka Forest Park. Split into six teams, they cleared tracks by hand, and also used scrub-bars and chainsaws. In addition, the teams marked and re-poled sections of the alpine routes.
In addition to Megan, the crew included Caleb Arrowsmith, Anya Bachkirova, Jason Cheetham, Julia Collins, Chris Freeman, Chris Goonan, Tony Goonan, Greg Hughson, Reo Iti, Jared Iti, Innok Mikhalev, Rachel Howells, Hugo Pearce, Roeland Pootjes, Errol Tutauha, Taylor Waddel, Gary Williams, and DOC ranger Malcom Lock.
Altogether, the crew maintained approximately 60 kilometres of tracks, all for under $13,000. As Megan acknowledged: ‘An absolutely solid effort by this crew. Thanks so much team, you all worked your guts out and it absolutely shows.’
Unfortunately, since then, Cyclone Gabrielle arrived in February 2023, and is likely to have caused significant damage to tracks in the Kāweka Ranges. DOC has temporarily closed tracks and huts until the extent of damage can be ascertained. Road access to Kuripapango and Makahu Saddle is not possible at present either.
However, to honour the efforts of the volunteers who did so much good work last October, here is an overview of what they achieved.
1. Makino Hut to Te Puia Hut: top section track cut by hand.
2. Makino Hut to Whetu junction: windfall cleared by chainsaw.
3. Middle Hill Hut to Makino Hut/ Three Gorges track: windfall cleared by chainsaw. Also some scrub clearing and marking.
4. Makino Hut to road end: windfall cleared. Scrub-bar work still to be done.
5. Kaweka Main Range from Whetu Biv to Makahu Spur: More waratahs installed to ensure route was well-marked. Caps installed on all waratahs. Some caps still to be finished between Makahu Spur and North Kaweka. (Note: Whetu Biv is the former Studholme Saddle Biv, relocated here by another BCT team in 2022).
6. Makahu Road end to the gorge beyond Iron Whare: track cut with scrub bar, clay pan down into gorge below Dicks Spur marked with waratahs and caps.
7. Makahu Road end to Matauria ridge: track cut with scrub-bar.
8. Matauria Ridge to Mackintosh Hut: track cut by hand and markers installed. Slip out of the gorge marked and cut.
9. Lakes Carpark to Mackintosh Hut and back out via the centre track: cut by hand and marked. There is still a section of scrub bar work to do here. (Note there is a re-route on the Lakes to Mackintosh track that has not being rectified on maps. DOC will sort this with LINZ).
10. Lakes Carpark to Kuripapango: cut by hand.
11. Kiwi Saddle Hut to Cameron Hut: cut by hand and additional markers put in. Track re-routed around the steep and dangerous clay pan. Some caps to put on markers along the ridge to Kiwi Saddle and still a small amount of track cutting to complete from the hut.