Track walk where James Burt­ton spent a soli­tary life in a whare

Walking New Zealand - - Te Araroa Trail - By Bob Hodg­son

Last month twenty-two in­trepid trampers faced the un­daunt­ing weather and ter­rain to chal­lenge the south­ern half of the Burt­ton’s Track, a track end­ing 7 km up in the Tararuas from Shan­non in the Horowhenua area.

We wel­comed our new­comer, Ka­t­rina. It was a cool win­ter’s morn­ing when we set off from the Man­ga­hao carpark, and after a few min­utes we were on track which was also part of the Te Araroa Trail.

The track led us through parts lined Above: Lunch time near the site of Burt­tons whare. Be­low left: An in­for­ma­tion plaque near the whare site. with toe­toe and then into great bush coun­try con­sist­ing of tall ferns and some rimu trees with some cov­ered in epi­phytes thriv­ing in the en­vi­ron­ment. The oc­ca­sional tomtit was also seen, no doubt keep­ing the bee­tles and in­sects un­der con­trol.

For­tu­nately, it was only about fif­teen min­utes into the walk that we en­joyed our first stream cross­ing, the first of around twenty, on our way to Burt­ton’s whare, a site where James Burt­ton shared his soli­tary life with the sur­round­ing ma­ture for­est un­til 1941when he suf­fered se­ri­ous in­juries (which even­tu­ally proved fa­tal) from a col­laps­ing bridge.

That area was ap­prox­i­mately 8km into the tramp and was an ideal turn­ing point and lunch venue.

The weather through­out the tramp was gen­er­ally very good for win­ter, and there were only brief oc­ca­sions when

there was some light rain. There was one down­pour of hail for two or three min­utes just as we stopped for lunch. It came, it passed, and lunch was en­joyed.

The un­du­lat­ing track was a tad over­grown in places and fol­lowed closely to the Toko­maru River where there were some beau­ti­ful views of the river, the oc­ca­sional small water­fall and sur­round­ing bush high on the sides of the river val­ley.

The there and back tramp seemed to be en­joyed by all, and thanks to the Met Of­fice for pro­vid­ing the weather. Be­sides be­ing in the bush amongst na­tive veg­e­ta­tion, with views of the river, it was a tramp of many streams (34 cross­ings). In fact, my boots were the clean­est they had ever been at the end of a tramp. All were back on time at 2.45pm, and we en­joyed re­fresh­ments at the lo­cal café in Shan­non. The three UHF ra­dios worked well.

Most tramps go up then down: This was an ex­cep­tion.

Above right: An un­used im­ple­ment shed which the Te Araroa Trust hopes to turn into a shelter for walk­ers. Mid­dle right: A log makes a good seat! Be­low left and right: Sev­eral water­falls along the way.

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