Moa – Unknown – Wilberforce
3 – 5 June 2017
Aarn and I first did this trip at QB weekend 2002 along with Yvette and two others. I scheduled it again twice including in 2013 when we were ready to go but the norwester wasn’t going to be fun. So this time, at last, the weather on Sat and Mon was looking good and Sunday was forecast as a bit wet but not much wind.
The trip starts from the canal road end or a bit further up the Wilberforce and involves a fair amount of wide river valley plodding. The timing and route is : Saturday Diagonally up the river. Up Moa Stream to Moa Stream Hut Sunday Further up the Moa to North Stream. Up this to Moa Saddle at the end and plunge down into the Unknown. Down the Unknown a bit to Unknown Hut Monday All day plod down river, around the top and down the TR to the old Moa Hut, then diagonally down river back to the start. But it’s more fun than that sounds.
We left Halswell at 7.00am, drove away from any cloud and managed to drive beyond the canal end at least a kilometre upriver to park. The trudge up river wasn’t a problem in sunny calm weather. Just that the TR didn’t seem to be getting any closer. But it did eventually and we stopped for lunch on the edge of the terraces south of Moa Stream. We were aware of fresh vehicle tracks and turning up Moa Stream, it didn’t take long to find the vehicle parked half way up. The stream is more washed out in places compared to 2002, so it took us a little to decide where the hut is and find the markers leading into the bush. The four bunk hut sits in a small clearing a little way back. We found three young people all set up inside, one of them a hunter well familiar with the area. So we had a chat with them then moved on to find ourselves a sheltered tent site close to the North stream mouth about 4.00pm. Not under the trees but at least in a grassy enclosure.
In the small hours, what sounded like drizzle was actually fluffy light snow on the tent. But that wasn’t too bad for breakfast and packing up. Away by 9.15am the snow had all but stopped as we moved up North Stream which has a shallow gradient all the way upstream to the saddle at 1078m. Here we found a shelter spot for lunch as the weather had deteriorated again. Since 2002, DoC have installed their markers, both leading over the knoll to the west and also getting down the dramatic drop into the Unknown. The Unknown Hut is then a relatively short walk down the TL to a terrace some distance back from the main stream. Contrary to my memory, it is a four bunker with an open fire. And it had a fairly new bow saw, so with not too long a walk to the bush edge where windfalls were, we managed to cut and collect enough logs to keep us cosy until bedtime.
The cloud took all morning to mostly clear and once around the top corner, we were walking into a light southerly all day. We left the hut at 8.55am and were soon circling around the top to join the Wilberforce. Further south, the Logans Mistake area sported numerous massive rocks that had arrived over time from the bluffs above. Occasional streams descended as waterfalls from very high hanging valleys, including Hut Stream, not long before we arrived at the old Moa Hut at 12 noon. The ancient hut is a classic and the weather was now ideal for an early lunch there.
Crossing Moa Stream after lunch, we did continue along Kiwi Flat on a farm track instead of finding our way out to the river. Mistake. We ended up having to get out of the bush edge via a boggy cattle track. But once out; it was then the reverse of the first morning crossing diagonally back to the TL. Or more like zigzagging. With the vehicle in sight over the last two hours. Arrived at the car about 4.15pm for an easy drive home, back to the wet weather in Christchurch after what turned out a pretty satisfactory long weekend
We were: Merv Meredith (leader), Calum McIntosh, Aarn Tate and Peter Umbers. (MM)