This week I saw an interesting story in the Dominion Post about the Horowhenua Council proposing a part of the National Cycleway go over the Tararuas between Shannon and Eketahuna, and I thought they were crazy. So I dug out my map of the Tararua Forest Park, and well maybe they aren’t so crazy I thought. I planned a weekend drive up to see and a walk on the track that goes to Burn Hut. I thought that maybe the Horowhenua Council wanted to use the valley of the Mangahao River.
Then as luck would have it Bill from Manawatu Trails commented on a post on this blog, and there was all his work going on which I didn’t know about, and submissions of the Whanganui, Rangitikei, Tararua, Wairarapa and Manawatu districts for funding of the National Cycle Trails. And there it was, the route for between Shannon and Eketahuna and they’re not using the Mangahao River valley, but they’re going over the tops. And on Bill’s site I saw the ride from Mangaore to the Mangahao Dams and I changed my plans to do that ride.
It was drizzling all morning, but I got sick of waiting for it to clear so I started in the rain from the carpark of the whitewater kayaking course. The road is a gravel road heading up the hills that then drops into the Tokomaru Valley. I couldn’t see anything as I rode up. I couldn’t see the hills, so I had no idea how long the climb was. I just thought that whatever I climbed I’d have fun coming back down again later in the day. After about a 6km climb I entered the Tokomaru Valley. Here’s a photo of the vista with waves of rain floating over it.
A quick descent leads to the first dam. It’s an old hydro scheme (The history of it is available from Bill’s site) and this is the first reservoir, No 3.
Across the dam is the start of the tramping track to Burn Hut. It looked pretty inviting, and rainforests always look their best in the rain.
The road (it is a road, I saw 3 vehicles) climbs a little to get from the Tokomaru Valley to the valley of the Mangahao
and then drops down in a series of switchbacks to the Mangahao River and the second dam. I noticed that the narrow valley downstream from here, and where I thought a bike trail to Eketahuna might go, would be a major undertaking to design and build. i.e. not a good idea. It had stopped drizzling by the time I got to the switchbacks.
The 2nd reservoir. The road continues around the true left side of the reservoir, to the right in this picture:
And this is the 3rd reservoir, called No 1. You can clamber over the dam to the other end of the Burn Hut Track here and there is a tramping track onto the Mangahao Flats Hut and into the heart of the Tararuas. (You could walk to the Pakuratahi entrance all the way away in Upper Hutt). There also is a marked track called the Puketurua Track, which is also marked overgrown on the map which heads to Putara and Eketahuna (but it goes high, and it’d be hard, and Horwowhenua Council can’t be serious, can they?)
I had a bit of a rest and then headed back. I didn’t see this sign on the way up. I have a friend who when his kids misbehave he threatens to take them to a SLOW CHILDREN sign and take their photographs with it. Well I’m not a child anymore, but I couldn’t resist.
and on the way back the blue sky appeared. I was walking the bike by now up this hill, I was tired.
And I got to the lip of the valley and I had the 6km descent down to the Mangaore Power Station and Whitewater Kayak course. It was a glorious descent and a great way to finish a great ride and one I’d definitely do again. Thanks Bill for the tip.