Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 22, June 1978
By GARY STAPLES
For many years the Kauaeranga Valley and the mountains beyond have drawn my interest. So much to explore, so many tracks to tramp in an area rich in history. In 1970, I wrote an article for the Journal: "The Timber Industry in the Kauaeranga Valley" [see Journal 14: Kauri Timber Industry - Kauaeranga Valley - E]. Many times before and many times since have I visited the Valley always looking up to the mountains; the Pinnacles, Table Mountain and other rocky peaks.
One summer day in December 1976, on a somewhat ill-prepared tramp, I and two friends, Ruby Brooks and Roselyn Fountain walked to the hut near the Pinnacles. Driving to the end of the Kauaeranga Road we left the car at 2. p.m. and soon crossed the main Kauaeranga River.
It was here that the "Billy Goat", tramway brought the giant Kauri logs down to the Kauaeranga River hence they were driven (by water released from dams) down to the "booms". Continuing on, we joined the old Webbs Creek Horse track and before long started to ascend the "Steps in the Rock". These steps were cut to enable pack horses to climb out of the valley to the main timber camp. These steps were in use as early as 1894.
After a long climb we again joined the Electricity Dept.'s bulldozed "road". This road was bulldozed at the time the power cables were installed across country to supply Whitianga with electrical power some years ago. Now overgrown the bulldozed road has turned to bog. After wading through the bog for a time we began to climb again and soon could see across the peninsula to the east coast. The track descended a little and after more bog we reached the Pinnacles Hut. With little time to spare we climbed down below the hut to the creek to see the Dancing Camp Creek Dam. This is in a good state of preservation and is the second largest dam in the Kauaeranga catchment area. A quick rest then three hours fast tramping brought us back to the car just as darkness closed in.
A few weeks later in January 1977, another tramp was planned, this time to do a round trip of Table Mountain. We parked the car at the Wainora Picnic Ground, walked to the end of the road, across the Kauaeranga River and on to Webbs Creek. Crossing the creek we followed the bulldozed road a short way before descending again to recross the Kauaeranga River. After following a picturesque track along the bank of the Kauaeranga River we turned towards the Mountain and commenced the ascent. What a climb! On and on and forever upwards! How glad we were for the tree roots to hang on to. In the steeper parts wire ropes have been fastened for the use of climbers.
After a number of hours we reached the Plateau and commenced the crossing. With no view more than a few yards we floundered through a seemingly never ending bog. This was most disappointing because we expected great views. Then suddenly after 2¼ worrying hours (we thought we were lost) we arrived at the South West Look Out. What a relief to know we were heading in the right direction. Plunging back into the scrub again, a short scramble brought us to the edge of the cliff, another look out and the beginning of the descent. At this point we found a log book (Courtesy of N.Z.F.S.), kept dry in a four gallon tin. We read the entries and remarks of trampers. Their opinions of the track described it well with an abundance of suitable adjectives.
In the distance, far below we could see our car and with the noon time long passed we started to descend towards the Wainora Creek. A few hours later we reached the Wainora Creek and after numerous crossings we came out of the bush edge. A short distance across the picnic ground and we reached the car, once again just as the evening began to darken.