25-Oct-2000 -- This is the continuation of a two part story - read the story of 39S 176E first before reading this.
So having just visited 39S 176E (see that story above) and getting back to the car we now had to head west for about one degree to find 39S 175E. While driving we could reflect on our planning for this visit which we had roughed out at work over many weeks. Andrew had said "Just head along the railway track and drop down this spur; the confluence should be on the side of this hill here". Or so he thought! But again Andrew had been stuffed up by the 300 odd metre difference between the NZ map grid and WGS84 and it was not actually until the night before we left that we worked out that the difference between the two grid systems would put the confluence right in the bottom of the valley and an approach from the SE would be better than the NW railway approach - provided that the mapped bridge over the Ohura river was really there.
On the way we stopped at the Waituhi saddle which has a rather nice lookout over the central mountain system. Now why are we telling you this? It has nothing to do with confluences? Well, it seems that when we left that lookout point, the driver (who shall remain anonymous) left the handbrake partly on. Now a bit of physics here. Hand brakes work on friction. Friction causes heat. Heated oils boil. Gaseous oils create airlocks. Brakes with airlocks don't brake. Well it took a while to manifest but eventually the brake pedal went to the floor and - no brakes. A case of good news bad news! The bad news was that things were not looking good for confluence number 2. The good news was the brakes failed outside a service garage and the man had the brakes bled and $20 in his back pocket inside 20 minutes. So we were back on target again.
In a further 25 minutes we were once more on the track to a confluence although this time it was much different. This time it was open farmland and sheep, cattle and even some turkeys running around. This time we had nearly 2700 m to walk but across very easy farm tracks. The confluence was, as we had suspected, at the bottom of the valley and it looked a long way up to the point we would have come over the top from the railway approach. Andrew was keen to go up there but discretion (fatigue? laziness? wisdom considering the late hour?) overtook desire and we headed home after again photographing the point and leaving a stash buried in the rubble below the nearest tree - a little Manuka maybe 10 metres to the East of the confluence. Actually there was an interesting time just before we got to the point when the two of us were walking in opposite directions, each thinking we were heading towards the confluence. One of us had a neat system to work out with a compass which way was North and then moving to a point so many metres North and so many East. This worked well. The other method was to blunder on in some sort of mind numbing grid type search (a spin on what was really an absurdly random walk) trying to make the two numbers trend in the right direction. The method required the 'driver' to remember two numbers for a short period of time so that the differential could be calculated. It is actually quite hard to do this and it took a separation between us of well over 100 m and the scream of 'Found It' to convince the other person that his method was not working. No names no pack drill here.
Well, it was after dark that the two of us finally got back to Hamilton - pleased with our efforts. On the way home we mused that it might be possible to do all 12 New Zealand North Island confluence points in a longish weekend if one had a 4WD vehicle and a couple of mountain bikes. Just another crazy thought, but then again you knew we were crazy in the first place because we were crazy enough to go out looking for confluences?
So the two of us have now visited 5 of the 12 North Island confluences and as far as we know none of the other ones have been visited. Only 7 to go and then we can stop this crazy stuff - maybe.