The Ruakokoputuna Chasm challenge

“This place is amazing” says Paul, “you have to come see it”.
Paul was sitting next to me watching a movie , a bourbon in his hand, which was now being waved around with little concern  as to how it may stain my carpet , the wild gesticulating  of arms continued while he described a place that seemed more from a medieval fairy tale than a natural landscape feature.
Plans were made for a future visit as bourbons were being consumed and like most of my future plans go, the day came when those plans were realised.
Paul was to be my model for the day.  lol

Scorching hot, the drive through the Ruakokoputuna valley was very pleasant; it didn’t take long before we turned off the road up the drive way that led to Patuna Farm.
A short talk to the owner of the farm in which the Patuna or Ruakokoputuna Chasm,( take your pick on the name) is located and we set off across the farm along a well-marked track.
We followed that track until it turned sharply and there before us was a ladder that descended down into darkness and down we went into the depths.
Once down the ladder you’re in the creek so you need to be aware that your feet will be wet for the duration of the walk.

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

Water seeped through the moss covered banks making delicate water displays as they cascaded into the creek.

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

I knew that I would not be able to capture with the camera what I could see with my eye because of the extreme light conditions.
The bottom of the chasm was quite dark with bright sunlight peeking in from the top so I set up my camera on my tripod and set about making multiple exposures (exposure bracketing ) at one full stop apart, starting from the correct exposure at the top and increasing one full stop for three exposures to capture the darker innards of the creek bottom.

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

My 5D mrk11 has a setting that helps me set up initially, but I have to decide what exposure spread I will require and I have to blend these images together later in Photoshop .
Many modern cameras that have come out in the last few years the camera does all the work in camera and if you have such a camera its more than worthwhile learning how to put this technique to good use.
If you have an older camera this video may be your best friend to help you learn how to make the best out of a difficult situation  or you could book a workshop with me and I will help you sort it out 😀

 

Now pretty soon in your travels downstream you’re going to have to get wet proper.

One part of this walk requires one to get very wet depending on your height.
you may even have to swim if you go early in the spring.

Make sure you have a set of dry clothes back at the car.

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

Paul  is starting to get worried here

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

with his bag removed he felt a little more relaxed about it

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

There is an awesome sunny place to lunch and dry off immediately  after your dip in the cool water.

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

The walk is roughly a 2 kilometre walk and as you head down the creek the towering limestone walls form caverns and at other times its like being in a tunnel.

Paul enjoying the high walls and the feeling of being some what dwarfed by it all.
Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

and some times its very closed in.

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

I knew it would be a challenge and making mostly  bracketed images  with the tripod on running water  was indeed a challenge as  each image must be exactly the same  except the exposure values.
any change in the position of the image makes it impossible to line up the multiple images and get one sharp one when super imposing them or stacking them on top of each other in Photoshop  and blending them together.

still I was happy with my efforts .

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

there are a few perfectly places to just sit and soak up the atmosphere

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

 

there was heaps  to look at and soak in .

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

One thing is for sure , I will be back again this year to reshootthe place and see how Tammy handles the deep bit, at 5 foot and 4   it could lead to a photographic opportunity  😀

anyone interested in joining a workshop day in there contact me .
boneywhitefoot@gmail.com

Yes sir I will be back.

Patuna Chasm Ruakokoputuna  valley

http://www.patunafarm.co.nz Tel: 06 306 9966

A trip to Waitewaewae

How long has it been since you have been in to Waitewaewae?
30 odd years I suppose, says I, reflecting back on my younger days working for the then New Zealand Forest Service (now known as DOC).I haven’t even seen the new replacement hut built 20 years ago.
Right, says Tramper, Let’s get our backsides into gear and go and have a squizz, besides, it will be a good walk for us and a chance to get some miles under our boots in our build up for our summer adventures. Memories take me back to my last walk out of Waitewaewae one very hot Sunday in 1977. I was a young lad of 18 with legs the size of ski poles, I carried the back end and head of a large stag for 12 hours to get it back to the wagon That was one very long day.12 hours of agony, up Arapito stream and across the Plateau, then suffering from a severe case of shaky leg syndrome, down Saddle creek, out the sidle track between the old steel and log tram-lines, down to and across the Otaki and Waiotauru rivers and finally up the steep climb onto the road to arrive at the car park across the Roaring Meg totally knackered.
I took a swig on my cheap glass of Shiraz and stealing myself I says, let’s do it.
Arriving at the cark park beside the care takers house I felt very much at home. I was born in Otaki both naked and illiterate and so I had a pretty hard start in life. My Grandfather I believe secured the very first permit to catch Possums in the Tararua Forest Park or at least up the Gorge.
My earliest recollections of the Gorge started on my fifth birthday. My present was to be a weekend running behind my Dad clearing his trap line. Dad ran trap line up the Gorge for 20 years almost every weekend since he was a kid. Although I was mostly clothed at this stage my illiteracy was still very evident. I can remember vividly that first night, we were lying on a floor of an old worn out hut, darkness surrounding us, the night birds and sounds seeping through the holes and cracks of the broken down hovel. The glow of my Fathers cigarette as he lay beside me brought comfort and excitement of the next day kept me from sleeping. The reason we were up there that night instead of coming up in the morning was that tomorrow we were to have a crack at shooting a Deer, hence a very early start. At this stage of life my Dad knew little of Deer stalking he was a possum trapper, it paid the bills. The highlight of the hunt next morning was being made to stand on a waste high rock exposed out on a grassy flat in the dimness of early morning.I had to stay on the rock while Dad stalked a crackling sound in the gloomy, supple jack infested bush not 15 meters from my rock, Dad was soon swallowed up by the trees and the poor light but after a few tense minutes all hell broke loose, a huge black heaving mass of Bush Bull burst exploding out of the trees, broken branches flying through the air the beast charged up the flat passing so close to me I could smell him, Dad walked up to me and lifted me off my rock and said “that was exciting boy”, I was more than ready for home after that.
Years later my friends some of which I still have today and myself spent endless hours learning to hunt deer and to drive on gravel roads up the Gorge and dodge the massive Bush Bulls.
The Otaki forks gets its name because the Waiotauru, Otaki and Waitatapia rivers converge on each other all within a few hundred meters, the Otaki being the largest river maintains its name and flows on down to the Kapiti coast.
How things change, where once the old wooden walk bridge (a welcome sight for the returning tired and weary) spanned the Waiotauru river, a spanking new steel contraption now stands, all be it a little downstream and I’m not sure but the one across the Otaki seems pretty new to me too.

The new walk bridge across the Waiotauru.

Bridge across the Waiotauru

Bridge across the Waiotauru

Waiting always waiting

Robert waits yet again

The weather was cool and once we had dropped down and crossed the Otaki we moved up the sidle track toward Saddle Creek, catching glimpses of the Waitatapia stream way below us.

The bridge across the Otaki seems new too.

The newish bridge across the Otaki river

We stopped every now and again to take pictures of the old tram lines. I am fascinated by the tram lines running the length of the sidle track up to the old steam powered log hauler just off Saddle creek, they hold a special interest for me, my Grandfather was a mill boss up here in in the old days and had he been alive when I was old enough to be inquisitive I would have had some stories to extract from him, but life was hard on men in those days and I grew up not ever having had a conversation with him.
From 1927-1930 D.Corrigan operated a mill towards the bottom of the Waitatapia stream, later in 1931 it was moved a mile upstream where it continued operating until around 1936.The main reason I wanted to do this trip was to get photos of the hauler and tram tracks that fed massive Rimu logs to the mill. The Otaki gorge was a different place 100 years ago, it was a hive of activity, with mills cutting down huge amounts of native hard woods such as Rimu, Matai and Totara.

Tramper checking out the past

Robert checking out the tracks

the bush is slowly over taking the tracks.

Slowly the bush is taking engulfing the tracks

In some places the wooden sleepers have survived.

Old wooden sleepers remain after almost a 100 years.

training the ferocious Tussock, the wonder dog between the rails.

Tussock the wonder dog

Eventually we made to the remains of the old steam powered log hauler. Things had changed, in my day you could walk past it without noticing the old relic was hidden away amongst the Punga ferns and thick supple jack, now it enjoys a place of prominence and rightly so, a wonderful photo opportunity and a wee insight to a time hopefully long past. After taking the required images we were off, knowing full well what was ahead of us immediately.

the lag hauler enjoys a place of prominence and rightly so.

The old steam powered log hauler, Waitewaewae track

Tussock the wonder dog finds a new kennel.


Now let me tell you I’ve done some pretty boring walks in my day but Saddle Creek seems to me my second most miserable, the first prize goes to Marchant ridge the worst forced march on the face of the earth, anyway up Saddle creek we go, over slippery rocks and banks, in, out, around and over water dripping rotting trees. Time slows to a stand still, the boots fill with water and the lack of visual stimulus makes the mind hallucinate.

After about 3 years we make the top of the creek and amuse ourselves with lunch and a quick cuppa.

Robert and Tussock sharing lunch

Nowadays life’s easy from this point onwards, years ago the Plateau was a bog from hell, now, even in early spring the place is easy to skip over, not that I was skipping being a long way from peak fitness, I was dragging the chain slowing Tramper down but still happy at the track improvements. Eventually some 5 hours from leaving the wagon I stumbled up to the hut door and marvell at the new hut, anyone who is acquainted with the old hut will know what I mean, it was a bit of a hovel to say the least. The new hut although seemingly in a bit of a strange place for a hut, attracts heaps on internal light, is roomy and allows 30 people at a pinch to sleep in dryness.

Robert having a sit down,Waitewaewae hut.

The gloomy sky had been whisked away and now the sun shone brightly on the Otaki River, in the 70s a bunch of bright sparks from the city decided just downstream was a great place to build a dam and create a power house.

The Otaki River is a very beautiful place both upstream and downstream from the hut looking at the sunlight filtering through the trees onto the river I’m so glad those idiots didn’t get their way.

Otaki river a jewel of the Tararuas

For those who might be interested the trip downstream from here to the mouth of Penn creek may be the last you ever take, but in our day there were heaps of deer and gazillions of fat Trout, it was a wild adventure getting down the gorge, do it in late summer it really is a great adventure, don’t take a inflatable and cheat walk it. Upstream from the hut had good numbers of deer, the upper/mid Otaki always held very good numbers and one never really had to leave the river bed to score, going by the amount of sign in the creek things haven’t changed that much Tramper got photos of a mob of Goats just upstream just before the forks of the Otaki and Waitewaewae My favourite place for a deer was the clearings up the Waitewaewae stream, sometimes at night but mostly first light. It was fantastic just to reacquaint myself to one of the most well known hunting spots in the Tararuas.

Goats

Goats in the Otaki.

The trip back out the next day was exactly the same as the coming in but in reverse and it rained….. hard….. and I got wet……….. as usual.

The old hauler in the wet

Some good news and an apology.

Firstly, the good news.
Some of my landscape images have been chosen to help promote New Zealand at the grand opening of the Rugby World Cup at Eden Park in Auckland. They will be displayed on the big screen at the park; I’m pretty stoked about the whole thing.
Secondly, an apology.
I apologize to any shop assistants I have offended with my last post.
Not all shop assistants are monkeys, many, esp those in specialized camera shops are very knowledgeable being keen photographers and well able to give good advice, it’s the big apartment stores that I would advise caution when taking advise.
Have a good week folks.