Not wanting to miss an opportunity to escape Auckland on one of our few long weekends we departed early Saturday morning In the aftermath of Cyclone Wilma. Flooding at Maramarua had us back-tracking and taking Highway One instead. We chased the departing rain clouds south arriving at the Taharoa roadend early afternoon. The walk through Poronui Station had us wading across flooded paddocks sometimes alongside a very torrid Taharoa river.

After descending to the river we started to appreciate the amount of rainfall the cyclone had dumped in the area. The flood plains were covered in debris with piles of pumice scattered over the flattened grass. The river had receded enough for us to wade across in cold waist deep water but getting out proved to be an issue. I needed to be assisted out of seemingly solid ground which turned out to be a pumice covered hole. Oamaru hut has a superb location overlooking the Oamaru river-flats and we enjoyed spending a pleasant few hours reading our books on the porch.

Mist shrouded the valley the following morning as we wandered up the Oamaru river valley. On leaving the hut the track immediately disappeared into the river re-appearing 10 metres upstream. This and the log-jams of mature beech trees lining the river upstream provided more evidence of "Wilma's" destruction. We passed some fabulous campsites beside the river further upstream under a canopy of mature beech trees. We way-pointed these for future reference and continued up the valley. The track was very easy going and with day-packs it only took us 3.5hr hike to reach the Waitewhero saddle where we had lunch. A great spot for a break in the sun with good views down into the Ngaruroro river valley. We had a pleasant stroll back down the valley returning to Oamaru hut in the mid afternoon.

There were a few hunters and fishermen on the river-flats whom we  observerd as we again enjoyed lazying away the early evening on the hut porch. Storm clouds raced across the sky the following morning as we retraced our steps back to the car. The wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped from the barmy mid-twenties of yesterday to 13C. We only just made it back to the car before the heavens opened up once again.

Route details: Easy

Taharoa roadend to Oamaru hut: 12.7km 2:35min

Oamaru hut to Waitewhero saddle(return): 26km, 7 hrs 

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