28-Oct-2001 -- The long day - 39S 177E from Hamilton New Zealand.
Yes we are crazy, but the list of confluences left in the North Island of New Zealand is getting shorter and the locations are getting harder to reach. In fact at the time we did this confluence, there were only three left and we could see two that were going to take some effort so felt that we had better get on the job. They were both over 200km as the crow flies from our home town of Hamilton and being 140km apart were not really a joint possibility for a single weekend. So we thought we would check out the closest one as a day trip to minimise time away from the families. That confluence is at 39S 177E near Mohaka. Andrew McGlone and I headed off about 6am on the 28th October as the early morning light was starting to warm the countryside. The drive to the area is on good two lane roads and the 340km journey took around 3.5 hours before we pulled off the tarmac and started into the winding single lane dirt roads that take you over the last 25km or so.
We finally found ourselves at a farm called Woodlands and spoke to one of the farm workers. He told us that the manager was away but if we left a note at his house there should be no problems. So we wrote out a quick note and headed off down a newly renovated farm track – the first kilometre of which we could drive in my front wheel drive Astra wagon. A rather steep looking downhill section caused us to chicken out and we left the car at the top of a hill only 1.3km from the confluence. We could very clearly see the track continuing ahead of us looking like it might just go right to the magic point, and all of it down hill. Great! We headed off along this track with great views of the deeply gorged Mohaka river way below us and with sheep and lambs (hey it is New Zealand) aplenty on the hills around us. With only a couple of hundred metres to go we left the track and walked down to the confluence across easy pasture land. After a bit of a dispute (our two GPS units initially suggested that the final spot was at different places quite a few metres apart) we finally managed to pin point the spot. We took the required photos, engraved a nearby mudstone rock that we moved to the agreed spot and spent a little time admiring the view. Then back along the track – now uphill to the car and home.
Well in fact we decided that the ‘best’ way home was to take a different road through the wonderful Lake Waikeremoana area. On the map the distances are about the same back to Hamilton BUT this road is slow, 95km of windy (i.e. curvy not breezy) gravel, albeit very scenic. The four hour inward journey became a six hour return. It was worth it though, and we suspect that we are now two of the few New Zealanders (hey two of the few people) who have driven around Lake Waikeremoana from Hamilton in a day. Most people in fact will tell you that you cannot drive around this lake – you can walk it in about three days but you cannot drive it – ask anybody they will confirm this! Well we dis-confirmed it!
So again an enjoyable day and another confluence visited. Only two to go now (in fact since we looked they have added another one that is 4km off the coast of Wanganui – I don’t believe it. So the East Cape and the Masterton Confluences remain untouched – soon!