By Kieran, 27 March 2007
Wednesday saw us depart our camp besides the Motu and head over a small saddle into the Big Unkown stream. A very straight forward crossing made easier by the disappointing discovery of a freshly cut DOC track leading from the saddle down into the Big Unkown, presumably they've now completed a track right down to the Motu as well. We couldn't figure out why they've bothered, its not as if many people tramp through the area and the rivers are far more menacing than a nice wee bush bash over an easy saddle!
The Big Unkown lived up to the first part of its name and was un-crossable. We had lunch on the river bank and spent the afternoon watching the muddy stream slowly clear. By about 3:30pm we successfully crossed and carried on for another few hundred meters downstream before the river entered a gorge that still had too much water roaring down it. We spent the night on a miserable gravel patch and departed the first thing in the morning before the rain started.
With the drop in river level overnight travel down the gorge was easy and we reached the junction with the Te Kahika stream about an hour later. I proceeded to cross the much bigger Te Kahika (perhap's not the smartest move in hindsight) and was joined by the rest of the group soon after. The gorge up the Te Kahika although short was pumping with muddy water and proved to difficult for us to enter. After several abortive attempts, only 60m's from our first crossing point, we finally gave up and set up the fly on a small gravel pan. The well secured (or so we thought) fly promptly blew down and in the pouring rain we had to resort to a camp in the bush on a very narrow ledge with a crumbling rock wall on one side and the river undercutting our bank on the other.
The next four days were taken up with card playing, landslides (just across the river from us), visits by cliff climbing wild pigs and boredom. After heavy rain and a total of six days spent waiting for rivers to go down we found ourselves on day eight only two days walk into our four day tramp and weren't even able to move from our ledge. That night we asked via Mt radio for a commercial helicopter to come pick us up and the following morning after the helicopter carried out a pretty stunning landing into our narrow gorge we were plucked from our miserable camp and for a mere $470 each were chauffeured direct to Tolaga Bay ending a rather tough nine days initiation into Raukumara tramping!
I don't have the maps in front of me but the rest of the trip was going to involve more rivers, wild bulls, several huts and the Oronui gorge, I suspect we had a bit more work cut out for us...