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Tauherenikau Valley with Neill-Winchcombe ridge on skyline
Down from Mt. Reeves into the Tauherenikau Valley with the Neill-Winchcombe ridge on the skyline
Country: New Zealand
Location: Tararua Forest Park
Accommodation: Upper Hutt is near Kaitoke. There is the Black Stump Youth Hostel at Kaitoke. Carterton (near Woodside) has motels and B&B.
Transport: Trains travel the Hutt Valley between Wellington and Upper Hutt. There are 4-5 trains daily to Masterton which stop at Woodside (3.5 km from the road end). Taxis available from Upper Hutt and Masterton. Weekdays a bus travels to/from the Wairarapa.
Maps: Parkmap Tararua (1:100,000). Topomap S26 - Carterton (1:50,000).
Trip Dates: 3-4 February, 2001

Mt. Reeves is a nice little peak on the eastern side of the Tararua ranges, north of Wellington. It has a modest height of 899m but an old fire has opened up the bush on the summit. There are good views over the patchwork of farmland in the Wairarapa plains and west into the hills (see above). It has the distinction of being part of the original route over the southern Tararuas, first pioneered in the 1930's. This went from Woodside in the Wairarapa, over Mt. Reeves and down into the Tauherenikau Valley and then up onto Marchant Ridge to follow the modern route.

There are a few ways to bag this peak. The first and easiest is a nice day trip from the Woodside road end taking about 6 hours (add a couple more hours if starting from the Woodside railway station). Secondly, a weekend can be filled by continuing over Mt. Reeves into the Tauherenikau Valley (staying at Tutuwai or Cone Huts) and either returning the same way or heading out over the Puffer Saddle to Kaitoke. Thirdly, you can climb Mt. Reeves as a day trip from Tutuwai Hut. The most strenuous option is to swap the moderate day over Cone Saddle on a Kaitoke to Holdsworth trip for Mt. Reeves, an overgrown track down to the Waiohine River and a good walk up the river to Totara Flats.

From Woodside

The Woodside railway station is 3.5 kilometres away from the start of the track. From the station head right for 100 metres to join the Woodside Road and turn left. Branch right onto the Waiohine Valley Road in another 300 metres which heads straight to the road end.

There is no official carpark at the road end so park considerately.

Follow a poled route along a farm track heading north over a stream and past an airstrip. When the track rises to a crest, depart it for a route up to the top of a paddock where a stile leads uphill into pine trees. In 25 metres the benched Reeves track is picked up heading to the left. This good but lightly marked track takes you for another hour up to an open top at point 569 and a chance for your first break. The track then drops through a small saddle and enters better bush on a short climb to Rocky Knob (620m). A junction near point 745 is reached in about an hour from point 569. Keep left to continue to climb gradually through the bush. A few areas of old burns provide views as the track gets to the summit of Mt. Reeves (899m) about 45 minutes from the junction.

From the Tauherenikau Valley

The track from Kaitoke to Tutuwai Hut is described on my account of the Kaitoke to Holdsworth journey.

The route to Mt. Reeves from the hut starts behind the woodshed and is well signposted. The path climbs steeply up the spur behind the hut and soon gains height. The gradient does not relent until a spur rising from the Reeves Stream is reached with an ascent of 300m in less than a kilometre. Just past here the old packhorse route that climbs from the stream is reached and the quality of the track improves. Gentler climbing past point 646 leads to a short steep section. The track becomes enclosed in solid scrub as it climbs but the shorter trees mean that there are glimpses of the green ridges to the west.

The track emerges into more open terrain at the bushline where the above photo was taken and the summit of Mt. Reeves can be seen. A 20 minute stroll brings the top which is a great place for lunch and to admire the views. The descent down to the junction near point 745 takes about 40 minutes through various clearings caused by old fires and then some good bush. The road end at Woodside is a further 2 hours away to the south (right at the junction).

If you are heading north down to the Waiohine River from the junction then note that the track is overgrown. There is not much traffic along it since the walkwire over Coal Stream at the bottom was removed. There are at least 3 points where the way to go is indistinct. Immediately after the junction the path seems to go straight over point 745 but a plastic tie marks the real route which heads left from a small clearing on top of the knoll. There is one point where the padding vanishes and markers seem to head under a fallen tree. However the track actually goes right into thick bush - a marker can just be seen from the last marked tree before the fallen one. Take care above Coal Stream where the track ventures close to the edge of a river bluff. From Coal Stream, it is best to make a hip-deep ford of the river and join the good track from Walls Whare to Totara Flats. This avoids the remains of the old track which has vertical scramble up a 10m bank to the site of the walkwire and a 20m scramble up a steep incline a little further on.

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