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