(draft) Trip: East Kawekas
Distance: 26.8 km (12.8 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 750m to 1721m. Gain: 1387m. Loss: 2806m . Gradient: 9 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Occasional rivers (3/6) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)


From Dominie Hut to Makahu Saddle Hut via Makahu Spur
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Distance: 1.9 km (1.0 DOC hours) - Marked route - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 976m to 1464m. Gain: 3m. Loss: 488m . Gradient: 15 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Leaving Domine Biv we return to the poled route down the spur, 30m south of the hut. The well-used route continues down the spur on loose gravel and scree. 300m from the hut a signpost offers 2 alternatives: 'Trial Plot' (left) and 'Makahu' (right). Either will take you to Makahu Saddle, but the left turn to trial plot is actually the main track, leading soon to a maintained zigzag track down the face. The right-hand route takes you down a tricky steep loose gravel face and a tricky unmarked descent.

Assuming you took the left turn, the track leads down into manuka bush on the flats below. 20m from the roadend a signpost left leads to Makahu Saddle Hut.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-06

From Kaweka J to Dominie Hut via Makahu Spur
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Distance: 1.2 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Marked route - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1464m to 1718m. Gain: 9m. Loss: 254m . Gradient: 13 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the signposted junction just north of Kaweka J, a well-used poled route drops east down the prominent Makahu Spur. The surface is sharp, loose rock and scree. Makahu Saddle Hut is visible far below, a dot of orange, but Domine Biv is tucked round the north side of the spur put of sight, 300m below the main range. A signpost at the turnoff leads to a 30m track round the corner to where the biv sits in a basin.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-06

From North ridge junction to Kaweka J via Kaweka main range
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Distance: 0.8 km (0.3 DOC hours) - Marked route - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1688m to 1721m. Gain: 33m. Loss: 13m . Gradient: 3 deg (Flat)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the Back Ridge Hut turnoff, the main Kaweka Range route continues south across broad, featureless, stony tops to the Kaweka J highpoint. The route is sparsely poled & markers could be hard to find in poor visibility. The Makahu Spur track junction is signposted & reached 100m before the summit. By the summit of Kaweka J stands a large cairn & there is a memorial plaque to Heretaunga Tramping Club members who lost their lives during WWII. A nearby stamped metal signpost marks the start of the route west down to Sterns Saddle & on to Back Ridge.

Last updated by: Reidpaulnz at 2018-08-21 18:08:40. Experienced: 2018-08-02

From Ihaka Spur junction to North ridge junction via Kawaka main range
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Distance: 3.5 km (1.8 DOC hours) - Marked route - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1517m to 1703m. Gain: 271m. Loss: 184m . Gradient: 7 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Heading south from Iahka Spur along the main range, the poled route crosses a couple of minor peaks and intervening saddle before swinging SE to make a brief but tiring slog up North Kaweka to the mast – only 120m above the saddle, but it feels like more.

South from North Kaweka, the ridge broadens to flat, stony tops, devoid of any vegetation. Frost action has made wave patterns in the gravel, and in places sorted the rocks into polygons of larger stones. On a good day, all three major volcanoes are visible to the west: Ruapehu, Ngarahoe, and in the far distance Taranaki. To the east, on a really clear day, a distinct grey shape beyond the Uruwera range can only be Hikurangi. This place truly feels like the top of the world.

The track junction for North Ridge / Back Ridge Hut is 600m south of North Kaweka and is signposted on the broad, featureless tops.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2014-10-05 16:47:55

From Whetu to Ihaka Spur junction via Kaweka main range
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Distance: 0.9 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Marked route - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1573m to 1618m. Gain: 43m. Loss: 45m . Gradient: 6 deg (Gentle)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Heading south along the main range, the poled route falls then rises 80m with the ridgeline as it crosses a gentle saddle to pt1638. 500m before the summit, where the main range swings SW, a track junction is reached with Ihaka Spur joins from the east - providing a route down to Middle Hill.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2014-10-05 16:38:05

From Ballard Hut turnoff to Whetu via ridgeline
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Distance: 1.0 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Marked route - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1548m to 1618m. Gain: 70m. Loss: 63m . Gradient: 8 deg (Gentle)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Heading east from the Ballard turnoff, the good news is that there is no real climbing left to reach the main Kaweka ridgeline, 1km of gently climbing ridgeline east to Whetu Highpoint. The route is marked with occasional poles, and follows the broad ridgeline.

The track junction just SW of Whetu highpoint is marked with a signpost.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-05

Distance: 0.5 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1404m to 1603m. Gain: 0m. Loss: 199m . Gradient: 25 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the cairn at the summit, an unmarked route drops steeply north towards a saddle 200m below. At a jog, it takes just 10 minutes to descend the 200 vertical meters from the summit to Ballard Hut, which is hidden in beech on the saddle. The route is not marked or poled, but is fairly obvious.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2014-10-05 16:20:22

Distance: 0.5 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1404m to 1603m. Gain: 199m. Loss: 0m . Gradient: 25 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

The steep climb south from Ballard Hut to the main track is not marked, but is fairly obvious - just head south up the steep face from the hut to the ridgeline. You leave the bush at the hut, and the entire climb is on gravel and tussock - exposed to the weather but a scramble, not a climb.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2014-10-05 16:20:22

From Ballard Hut turnoff to Whetu via ridgeline
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Distance: 1.0 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Marked route - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1548m to 1618m. Gain: 70m. Loss: 63m . Gradient: 8 deg (Gentle)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Heading east from the Ballard turnoff, the good news is that there is no real climbing left to reach the main Kaweka ridgeline, 1km of gently climbing ridgeline east to Whetu Highpoint. The route is marked with occasional poles, and follows the broad ridgeline.

The track junction just SW of Whetu highpoint is marked with a signpost.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-05

From Whetu to Camp Spur summit via Kaweka main range
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Distance: 0.6 km (0.3 DOC hours) - Marked route - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1558m to 1618m. Gain: 2m. Loss: 60m . Gradient: 6 deg (Flat)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

A short 600m walk NE from the Whetu track junction takes you to another signposted junction at the top of Camp Spur (rising from the east). The route is sparsely poled over the stony gravel summit of the Kaweka range.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-06

Distance: 2.9 km (1.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 989m to 1573m. Gain: 17m. Loss: 601m . Gradient: 12 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

There are 2 descents to Middle Hill: Ihaka Spur and Camp Spur, camp spur being the northernmost and better maintained. Turning east at 600m NE of Whetu, the poled route losing 200m in half a km to the bushedge on Camp Spur. The track remains excellent throughout – poled above the bushedge, a 2m-wide avenue though the bush below. From the ridgeline the eastern Kawekas appeared to hold nothing but manuka and tussock, but to my surprise the bush is beech – tall, open and easy going. After 2km the track from Makahu joins from the south at a signposted junction.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-06

Distance: 1.1 km (0.3 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 940m to 989m. Gain: 17m. Loss: 66m . Gradient: 4 deg (Flat)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the track junction another easy km remains to the hut. Just as I’m beginning to wonder where the hut is, the tall beech ends abruptly and 3m high manuka takes its place – low dense scrub, rattling in the increasing wind. The beech forest makes a last, brief rally – another 100m-wide band – then stops permanently at a large clearing beyond which low scrubby manuka extends to the horizon. Middle Hill Hut.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-06

Distance: 1.1 km (0.3 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 940m to 989m. Gain: 66m. Loss: 17m . Gradient: 4 deg (Flat)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From Middle Hill Hut the Camp Spur track heads WSW through a mixture of beech and manuka. An easy flat walk takes you 1km over the flats to the start of camp spur where a signposted track junction marks the turnoff to Kaweka Flats Biv and Makahu Saddle to the south.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-06

Distance: 3.4 km (1.8 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 750m to 1034m. Gain: 308m. Loss: 389m . Gradient: 12 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the junction the track south drops to the first of two small streams, returning after each to the plateau that makes up much of the eastern Kawekas. The descents and climbs are easy, the track broad and well cut through open beech.

A couple of km later, the beech again makes a sudden change to manuka. The track starts to drop steeply down a mud-gravel spur. A deep V-notch valley opens in front, below. The 2m wide cut track vanished, replaced by a narrow foot-worn trail, zigzagging down ridgeline, slip, and finally dropping steeply though slippery beech forest to the North Mahaku River.

The river is unbridged but low - I was to cross easily with still-dry feet, though the deep riverbed hints of impassible flows after storms. Large triangles lead 50m downstream to where the narrow trail resumes, climbing what appears to be a steep streambed before finding a ridge to follow back up towards the plateau above. Nearing the summit we leave the thick scrub and enter a landscape of fiercely orange clay-pan, a landscape that could only be here. Cresting the plateau a signpost marks the junction with the track to Iron Whare to the east.

(On topo50 map series 1 this section is completely wrong, showing the track leading upriver some 400m to another spur before climbing).

Having 4 days on my hands, I’ve been looking forward to the challenge of tracking down the historic Iron Whare, some 1km off the main track. I’m slightly disappointed then, to crest the plateau and find a standard engraved-steel Kaweka signpost saying ‘Iron Whare’ and pointing east down a well-cut DOC track. Them’s the breaks.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-07

Distance: 1.2 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 904m to 943m. Gain: 44m. Loss: 54m . Gradient: 5 deg (Gentle)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the turnoff, the good, cut marked track to Iron Whare follows the escarpment though beech forest to the hut. Flat and broad, the plateau narrows to a ridge just shy of Iron Whare, and starts to drop. The hut sits right beside the track, overlooking the Makahu valley.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-07

Distance: 1.2 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 904m to 943m. Gain: 54m. Loss: 44m . Gradient: 5 deg (Gentle)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From Iron Whare Hut, the cut, marked track climbs slightly onto the plateau, and follows the escarpment east for 1km to meet the Middle Hill-Kaweka Flats Biv track at a signposted junction.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-07

Distance: 0.5 km (0.3 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 899m to 921m. Gain: 13m. Loss: 22m . Gradient: 4 deg (Flat)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Leaving the tongue of beech that marks the escarpment, the track enters a boggy plateau of stunted manuka, in places opening to marshy tussock flats which small muddy streams fail to drain. Crossing another small stream, the manuka opens to a large, green clearing of short grass. Set back against the eastern edge, Kaweka Flats Biv stands out orange against the tussock

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-07

Distance: 3.5 km (1.5 DOC hours) - Benched track - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 813m to 989m. Gain: 168m. Loss: 244m . Gradient: 7 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the Makahu Saddle Hut the track passes the door of Makahu Hut. The track heads north along a nicely benched track, whilst it climbs in & out of small streams & over pt. 895. The route descends a small open stream bed before climbing steeply to a flat ridge a few hundred metres south of Kaweka Flats Biv.

Created by: Reidpaulnz on 2018-07-17. Experienced: 2013-12-06


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