Rangitikei Hunt Coast to Coast

Back in 2014 and 15 the Rangitikei Hunt Club hosted a two part Coast to Coast traverse of the North Island, from Turakina in the West, to Maungakuri Beach in the East, broken about midway by a 12 month pause.

Registration for part one was held in a paddock off Raumai Road, Santoft.

 I arrived early to find the registration marquee setup, with the sounds of birds waking up to an overcast day, and a portable generator running in the back ground, supplying power for a welcome cup of tea.

By 8am the paddock was filling up, registration and vehicle inspections were well under way, and around 9:15 briefing began with thanks to all the land owners and organizers.

The following safety brief included wearing seat belts at all times, keeping the vehicle behind you in sight at all times, especially at intersections and traveling through gates, (which wasn’t always the case), along with the comment that PRS channel 30 was being used by the Control Vehicles, which were identified by the yellow “C” label.

The trek started with a short drive through Santoft forest, to a small sand track up a hillclimb, onto Moana Roa / Turakina Beach, at low tide.

Short sand dune track onto beach

A brisk pace was maintained by the lead vehicles for the 15km up the beach, which took us past the now buried remains of the Barque Fusilier, to the exit at Koitiata and onto the Tar Seal.

Heading away from the beach, it was a short distance before we turned left into Waipu farm, the first of many that we would cross that day on our trek to Mangaweka.

Waipu has its own “lake”, a large duck pond, complete with hides, from which around 1000 ducks are bagged most years. The exit from Waipu took the convoy into Ratana and past the Ratana Temple.

Approaching the Ratana Temple

It was only a short distance before we turned right onto SH3, and then left, onto another farm track, heading North East, as we moved from track to ploughed paddock back to farm track and then, after a short section of public road, onto Pete Neville’s property, to take us across to Turakina Valley Road.

It was here we encountered the first creek crossing, onto the first real hill of the day, low ratio to the top, with some great views back down the hill to the convoy behind, then over the top and down the other side before a long road section, into a forestry block, and a good long run to Otairi Station for Lunch break.

The old station building and woolshed, which are well worth a visit for their part in our history, are still owned by the Duncan family.

Otairi Station/Woolshed

After lunch we head into the station, uphill before a sharp steep drop into Hukanui Stream, which we followed downstream, before heading up alongside the Managapapa River.

Climbing a ridge heading for a high point at 609 metres (Te Namu), the track then continued along the ridge top for 10km climbing to 760 metres, which was the highest point of the day.

 An optional side track involved a small muddy creek crossing, and then a sharp climb out on the wet clay surface. The first few vehicles got through without problems, but after a ute got stuck, the convoy was split, with the remaining vehicles taking a different track.

Finally meeting up on top of the hill alongside a radio mast, we headed downhill into Te Kumu Station, on a new track built to access the rear of the property, which involved a small creek crossing at the bottom, as the new bridge had not been completed.

New track on Te Kumu Station

From there, we dropped down to cross Mangaone Stream, exiting the farm track, onto a county road which took us to Wairepu East Road, Magaone Station, and our last track /unmaintained council road of the day.

This last 8km track was the slowest and narrowest of all, with tight sections and turns for the larger trucks, and a large drop off if one was to get it wrong.

It took longer than expected, but once out, a gravel road brought us over the main trunk line and into Mangaweka, with a short drive to the Camp ground beside the river.

It was 6.25pm, after a very long day through some very scenic country side, and across properties one would not normally get to see. Total distance showed 155kms on the GPS, with a large amount off road.

Dinner was ready at 7pm steak /meat patties and salads with fresh bread rolls, followed by apple pie and custard. By the time we finished dinner and headed back to the campsite for a chat and late night drink, darkness had rolled in.

Mangaweka Camp

Sunday morning, bright and early, the campsite was waking, as tents came down, and vehicles headed out to Taihape for fuel.

Breakfast was well under way by 8.00am and we all looked forward to a 9:15 departure time. After a brief announcement, and a few spot prizes, the convoy headed out for day two heading towards the Taihape Napier road.

Out from the camp, and across the Rangitiki River, it’s straight into 4WD, as we head down into the Mangawhararariki River Valley.

It’s a steep drop, and even steeper climb out, onto the farm land and good farm tracks up to around 600m before heading back down into the Mangapae Steam to cross on a narrow farm bridge before exiting the property onto the road again.

It’s a short haul before we turn right to head down under a main trunk viaduct to cross the Kawhatau River, in what little water there is. The convoy slows due to the rocky exit, then heads down river, before heading back up under the viaduct, this time on the opposite side, heading for the road again.

Track leading under the viaduct

This was to be a long road haul, before we once again engaged 4WD, down Kotukuraeroa road with its warning about not being suitable for 2WD vehicles. Half way along the road we turned into a farm paddock and started climbing along a series of ridges before dropping down to ‘NGATA” a bridge crossing the Maowhango River being 251 feet above the river. On the other side the convoy had stopped for lunch.  

After lunch the group headed out for a short road trip, before heading onto the farm land again alongside the Mangawhauwhi Stream, before climbing back onto a road at the head of the valley.

 The last road haul of the day took us through the gates of Mangaohane Station and along the ridge edge, before dropping down into Kelly Land Co’s property through the Mangaohane Stream.

Charlie Brown exits Mangaohane Stream

The drop down the sides is over 200 metres and is very impressive, looking ahead and behind, climbing the hill to a shearing shed and quarters at the end of Kelly Road.

Once over the top it was a short drive to the paddock alongside the Napier Taihape road, time 3.30pm almost on the dot. The weather had been kind to the group with overcast skies day 1, and sunshine on day 2, with rain clouds only building in the late afternoon. 

After the usual trip-end rituals; pump up the tyres, goodbyes to those on the trip, it was time to head towards Napier for the trip home.

 A great thanks to the organizers, and the land owners who have supported the event, allowing around 90 vehicles to cross their land in one go.

To all who helped over the two days a great thanks and look forward to catching up in 2015 when the Coast to Coast is completed… 

Words and Images thanks to Murray Taylor

For more images check out the Gallery below

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