Area - Tararua Forest Park Info (1978)
Extracted from the back of a Tararua State Forest Park Map printed in 1978.
TARARUA STATE FOREST PARK
The Tararua State Forest Park extends along the Tararua Range for some 50 miles (80 km), from about Featherston north to a line roughly between Pahiatua and Shannon.
The country is broken and difficult, and with few exceptions the principal ridges and spurs are narrow, steep sided, and exposed. The highest point, The Mitre, in the eastern central region, is 1571 m
A main group of rivers rises around Mt. Arete (1516 m) in the northern part, and a secondary group rises in the region of Mt. Hector (1529 m) and Mt. Alpha (1362 m) in the southern part. Most of these rivers run parallel to the main range in a north or south direction and break out through gorges in an east or west direction.
OWNERSHIP OF THE RANGE
The Tararua Range covers 155 405 hectares.
The greater part (115 675 hectares as at 31 /7/75) including practically all the high country above the timber line, is State Forest park, administered by the N.Z. Forest Service. This is managed as protection forest for soil conservation, flood control, and water supply, and in addition great emphasis is placed on recreational use by the public.
Along the western flanks there are many freehold blocks of forest land, and permission to cross these areas or to hunt in them must be obtained from the owners.
Water reserve areas are closed to the public to protect community water supplies. The most important are those of the Wellington City and Suburban Water Supply Board (in the catchments of the Hutt River and the Akatarawa River) and the Palmerston North City Water Supply Area (in the far north of the range).
Because of the area's general importance as a source of water supply, care must be taken not to pollute streams and rivers.
ENTRY TO THE FOREST PARK
No restriction is placed on entry to the forest park other than that permits are required if firearms are carried or hunting dogs are used. These permits are obtainable free of charge from offices of the N.Z. Forest Service in Masterton, Wellington, and Upper Hutt.
The range is extremely exposed to the north-west and the south and has a reputation for high winds, fog, and sudden weather changes. On average the mountain tops are fog bound 2 days out of 3. Heavy snow may lie above the timber line for 3 to 4 months, and snowstorms can be expected at high altitudes at any time of year. Winter conditions on the high tops are harsh. Gale-force winds at subzero temperatures may blow for days or weeks on end.
The frequency of heavy cloud cover and sudden weather changes must be taken into account by hunters and trampers penetrating to any depth in the park, especially those travelling over the exposed tops.
The forests are predominantly beech. At lower altitudes red beech predominates, and scattered rimu, miro, and kahikatea occur throughout, with localised occurrence of rata, hinau, and taws. In the wetter west the understorey is denser, with abundant ferns and mosses and entanglements of supplejack and kiekie. Silver beech is the common timber-line species, although it is replaced by leatherwood scrub on the northern end of the range where there is more cloud and fog and also, in part, along the western timber line where it is wetter. On the rather sunnier eastern side the beech forest generally runs right up to the snowgrass.
All forest within the park has undergone modifications as a result of the impact of introduced animals. The effect of grazing animals has been most pronounced on the high-altitude silver beech forest, the subalpine scrub, and the alpine grasslands.
It is of vital importance that the forests are maintained in a satisfactory condition for the protection of surrounding farmlands and the supply of pure water for domestic and industrial use.
Help protect the forest park. Do not damage, destroy, or remove any trees, plants or shrubs.
Above all, be careful with fire.
The numbers of introduced animals in the forest park must be controlled to protect the vegetation. For this task the Forest Service employs professional hunters continuously. As the area is extensive and rugged every rifle counts, and private sportsmen make a valuable contribution in keeping the animal populations down.
The main animals of interest to the hunter are red deer, goats, and pigs. There are also opossums, but they are covered by trapping permits allocated for specific blocks of forest during the winter months. Rabbits, hares, stoats, and weasels are fairly widespread, but hunters are cautioned that the small-calibre rim-fire rifles and shotguns normally used for hunting smaller game are not allowed in State forests or forest parks. The reason is to discourage shooting of birdlife. All birdlife in State forest is protected.
1885 to 1923 that attempts, mostly by the Wellington Acclimatisation Society, were made to introduce them into the Tararua Range. Liberations were abandoned in the 1920s, however, because of damage to the vegetation caused by unrestricted increase of the animals.
Deer in general were brougnt under temporary complete protection by legislation in 1861. The system of shooting under licence was introduced in the Protection of Certain Animals Amendment Act 1866, and it is believed that the Wellington Acclimatisation Society first granted licences to shoot deer in 1887.
Despite the early recognition of some of the detrimental effects of the rapidly increasing number of deer: protection in some degree continued until 1930. In 1931 the Department of Internal Affairs undertook deer destruction work and in 1935 started intermittent operations in the Tararua Range. In 1956 responsibility for this work passed to the Forest Service, and operations in the range recommenced in 1960.
Deer are the most numerous of the introduced animals found in the range. They are present throughout, the greatest concentrations being where there is open country above the timber line. They move on to the tops about midsummer, retreat into the bush or leatherwood during the winter, and appear on the grassed river flats when the growth starts in spring. Except in spring the best hunting is in and around the scrub belt, but this country is the least accessible and the most rugged.
Goats derived from domestic stock have been established in some areas for a long time—perhaps since the early farming of the lowlands—and are now found in pockets throughout the range, causing intensive damage as a result of their concentrated browsing. They frequently inhabit inaccessible bluffs and rocky gorges but, if access can be gained to these areas, are easy game compared with deer.
Distribution of pigs, which like the goats derive from farm stock, is irregular and generally sparse. They are found for the most part on the warmer elevations near scrub and fern-covered valleys and foothills, with a few small colonies in the interior valleys and occasionally a stray animal in the snowgrass.
The first liberations of opossums, on both sides of the range, were in the 1890s. The build-up of their numbers was followed by several decades of commercial trapping under a licensing system. The trapping blocks established over most of the forest in the 1920s are still let for 3-month periods.
Opossums are present throughout all the forest and the subalpine scrub, although there are few areas of high concentration Trapping permits are issued by the Forest Service at Masterton.
Rabbits and Hares
Small colonies of rabbits are established on some of the eastern river flats. Hares are present, though not in large numbers, throughout the alpine grasslands, where the occasional rabbit is also seen.
Most rivers and streams in the Tararua Range contain brown trout, eels, and cockabullies, but only the first mentioned is likely to interest fishermen. The best rivers for the trout are generally those on the eastern side of the forest park.
Proficient anglers can get fish of from 1 to 21 kg from the Waiohine, Waingawa, Ruamahunga, Otaki, and Tauherenikau rivers. This despite the fact that the numbers of trout have declined over recent years as a result of changes in the beds of most rivers caused by the build-up of erosion debris, limiting accessible spawning grounds in the headwaters.
Fly fishing is the usual method of angling, but some success is possible with spinning and live bait under certain conditions.
Fishing. licences are obtained from acclimatisation societies and sports goods stores. The season is from 1 October to 30 April.
AREA DESCRIPTIONS, ACCESS ROUTES
This section gives a brief description of the main valleys, access routes, hut locations, and the hunting available. Anyone interested in more detail on access and routes should obtain a copy of the "Tararua hate Forest Park Route Guide", published by the Forest Service, price 40c.
The Tauherenikau valley drains the south-eastern portion of the Tararua Range. Main access is from Kaitoke, over the Puffer Track, and down Smith Creek to the Tauherenikau River. Where the creek meets it the river turns sharply east through a gorge out to the Wairarapa Plains, but the tramper and shooter will be more interested in the upper reaches.
At the junction of Smith Creek and the Tauherenikau River is Smith Creek Shelter. From this hut to the Tutuwai hut (3 hours) the route lies through rimu and miro clad river terraces. From the Tutuwai hut either bank can be followed to -the Cone hut (1 hour); just off the main track linking the Tauherenikau valley and the Waiohine valley.
Between the Tauherenikau and Cone huts several tracks lead to Marchant Ridge, the main route to Alpha hut and the tops surrounding the Tauherenikau headwaters.
Beyond Cone hut the Tauherenikau valley is untracked.
Deer are scattered in small numbers throughout the valley. They occur in greatest numbers in the subalpine-scrub belt in the headwaters. Dawn and dusk shooting on the river flats and through the open-bush river terraces can reward the hunter. Likewise, bush stalking within the forest can reward hunters of sufficient skill .The headwaters of the valley afford the best sport, and hunters based at the Alpha hut can obtain considerable open-top sport.
A few goats inhabit the lower Tauherenikau Gorge around Smith Creek.
An occasional pig may be encountered at lower altitudes anywhere in the valley.
The Waiohine River, the longest in the range, forms the dividing valley between the main Tararua Range and the eastern range. Numerous tributaries feed into it on both sides, the longest being the Hector River.
The popular route into the lower valley is over the Gentle Annie Hill from the Mt. Holdsworth road end and down Totara Creek to Totara Flats. A cableway at the north end of the flats enables crossing to the true right bank of the river (the true right bank of a river being the right hand side when one is facing downstream). The Neill Forks hut In the Hector River can be reached from Totara Flats hut by a sidling tack through the gorge to the Hector-Waiohine river junction, then up the bed of the Hector River. If the river is in flood, the alternative route is over a blazed track from Totara Flats hut up Cone Ridge and down to Neill Forks hut (approximate time 3 hours).
Access into the middle and upper reaches of the Waiohine is by routes over the tops, because a steep-sided gorge above Hector Forks bars the way to any easy traverse up the valley. A good sidle track on the true right bank leads from Totara Flats to Hector Forks.
The route to the mid-Waiohine hut is from the Mt. Holdsworth road end, starting the same as for Totara Flats but continuing over Mt. Holdsworth (1470 m).
The track leads past the Mountain House and about 11 hours up the bush slopes there is a signposted track leading to Powell hut in the tussock just above the bush edge. The main route cotinues to the summit of Mt. Holdsworth then west over Isabelle (1379 m). The track to the mid-Waiohine hut is on the forest edge immediately below this high point. This is the only hut at river level in the upper Waiohine valley. The Carkeek Ridge hut is on the bush edge of the ridgewhich divides the Waiohine River at the Park Forks. Dorset Ridge hut is to the east of Dorset Ridge, and there is a bivouac on the bush edge of McGregor Ridge.
Five high-level huts and a bivouac on the main range can bereached from the Waiohine valley. The huts are Kime, Vosseler, Maungahuka, Anderson Memorial, and Nichols; and the bivouac is at Aokaparangi. The high country on the Waiohine and Otaki catchments car be hunted from these huts. About 30 minutes up the Hector River from Neill 'Forks hut a blazed spur leads to Maungahuka hut. From Maurgahuka hut is about 2 hours north along the range is the bivouac just inside the hush edge on the eastern face of Aokaparangi. Anderson Memorial hut is a further 3 hours along the range. Silver beech forest encroaches over the top of the range some distance before this hut is reached, and a blazed track through stunted beech leads out to the hut. Nichols ut is a further 2 hours' journey along the tops. This hut is easily seen fromthe top of the range.
Blazed tracks lead from Nichols hut to Carkeek Ridge and Dorset Ridge huts. Relatively easy routes can also be taken to these two huts via the Waingawa River and the Mitre routes.
With the establishment of tracks and huts the area has been opened up for hunting, with consequent decrease in deer numbers. However, the Waiohine valley and surrounding high country still harbour a considerable animal population. The area will appeal to those who like ruggedcountry and good prospects of obtaining a trophy head.
The Totara Flats — Neill Creek area is within easy reach of weekend shooters. As a result of constant hunting pressure around Totara Flats, deer have become exceedingly wary and tend to fed on the river flats at night, dispersing at dawn. Late evening or dawn hunting often gives good results, however. Bush hunting can also berewarding to skilful hunters.
Goats are present but tend to remain in the upper gorge ara and in the heads of the tributary streams of Totara Creek and the those which flow in on each side of the large river flats alongside the main river. Goats have now spread throughout the upper reaches of the Naiohine but, like deer, are more numerous in the subalpine scrub. Reaching the high-altitude areas of the park entails fairly long periods of travel. The scrub and open tops of the main range and the area around the Dorset Ridge and the Carkeek Ridge huts are the best hunting grounds. The latter area is an extensive tussock zone in which theheadwater branches of the Waiohine have their source. Deer are more numerous in the scrub belt, but during February and March there is some movement up on to the tussock, and good high-top stalking can be obtained at this time of the year.