25-Oct-2000 -- This is a two part story - read S39 E175 after reading this.
There are two confluences (39S 176E and 39S 175E) that are maybe 2 hours’ drive south of our work place and in the quiet periods (whence the great outdoors always loudly call), we had figured that a day off work would see them both visited for the first time. We had the maps at work on a number of occasions and had roughed out some routes. Andrew had even been to the road-end near 39S 176E after giving his family some lame excuse as to why he wanted to drive to the end of a 10-km long dirt road while taking them on the 7-hour drive to the New Zealand capital (Wellington). Piece of cake that confluence, he thought.
Anyway the day came when the talk was over and we asked around work if there were any others that were keen. Markus who had got 'confused' with us while returning from 38S 176E suddenly found a meeting that he could not get out of, and Paul made up some lame excuse about fumes from the plastic seats in the car. I guess we just had to face facts. We are nutters and other people just don't like mixing with the sort of people that wander around in the bush looking for a heap of zeros on a machine. So we snuck out of Hamilton at 6:15 am on Wednesday, 25 October heading south to the southern end of Lake Taupo, the largest lake in the country and site of one of prehistory's largest known volcanic eruptions.
We arrived at the end of a forestry service road two and a half hours later, enthusiasm ripe to find old pine forest, heavy with the debris of such forests, bordering on typical thick and heavy New Zealand bush: off track travel that would be slow and difficult. But on the map there seemed to be a set of forestry tracks that circled around to the East of the 39S 176E confluence and while these made the route a little longer than the crow's-fly distance of 1.9 odd kilometres, it looked easier so off we headed. This time however we had our car location firmly waypointed into two GPS units - just in case (see 38S 176E). Maybe 30 minutes into the journey along easy tracks we suddenly came across an unmarked road that seemed to be heading directly to the confluence rather than around the back of it. We looked at each other incredulously: it couldn't be that easy ... could it? A 100-m tentative foray down the track became 200 m, then all previous plans to circle around were gone. This track was a beauty. Occasionally it would drift off the line, but would then abruptly turn back to the correct direction until after a walk of some 800 m we were only 300 m west of the confluence. The forest from this point turned abruptly into native New Zealand bush, surprisingly open and pretty easy going. At one point we came upon a rather steep bluff that dropped away into a small valley below. But we could see exactly where the confluence must be just across the valley. It was quite magic down in that valley - the real reason that confluential people do such things - to see nice places just like this. A brief scramble down the bluff and across the valley floor and we were into the 'find the exact point' game. It turned out to be pretty close to where we had figured although on quite a steep face making getting a good fix difficult. In the end we decided that the lower of two largish stumps that poked out of the hill was near enough. We put a little stash under the stump (nothing valuable at all but a log book and some junk for interest sake), took the mandatory photos of the rather pleasant bushy outlook and headed back.
To return we decided to go up to the ridge to the East of the confluence and around the route we had planned to come in on. This was a little more difficult than we thought and we floundered around a bit before the main track was located. This might be fun if the trip was taken in reverse and we suspect that a decision on when to actually leave the track to descend to the site might be a hard one. On the top of the ridge there was an old forestry site although little remained other than some bits of wire and metal. An early lunch and back to the car by 12:30, a 3-hours 45-minutes round trip with little rush.
For the rest of this story visit the 39S 175E above.