Newsletter #4 July 2023

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Kia ora koutou

Welcome to our August 2023 newsletter of the Greater Wellington Backcountry Network Inc.

Our first AGM is going to be held on 23rd September. The first year of the GWBN has been busy, with hut and track maintenance projects.

There will be elections for a the new committee held. Any GWBN registered members may be nominated and will be eligable to fill one of the committee positions. All members can also nominate other members fill committee positions. And all members that are present at the AGM will be entitled to vote. Information regarding the nomination process will be sent out to members shortly.

Our membership is slowly increasing. We now have 160 registered members. 115 of these members have indicated an interest in volunteering for hut or track upkeep. There are 12 “corporate” members (ie clubs) that are members.

There’s been good support from members in volunteering to help out. Including hut maintenance, tracks clearing and just quick trips to huts to do repairs or supply hut gear. Getting reports from trips in the forest parks on mahi needed on huts, tracks etc has been valuable. Reports on track conditions are helpful in planning future maintenance, to.

Nga mihi nui

Derrick Field – Chair GWBN


Our key hut project for the comming summer is the popular Alpha hut. Alpha is over due to maintenance, and deterioation of several areas of the hut need to be fixed before even more funds are needed for repairs. This project will stretch our available resouces, and Megan Sety is working on a project to raise funds for the project.

Alpha is a hut very popular with trampers located on the classic Southern Crossing in Tararua Forest Park. There has been a long association at Alpha by trampers, dating back to the first hut built in 1915. When bad weather occurs, the Southern Crossing can be a high risk place and the huts on this classic route are critical shelters.

A donations page for Alpha has been setup on our website. There is also a Give a Little donation page for Alpha created. Check the links below.

Want to donate to Alpha?

Make a direct credit to our bank account.


Use our Give a Little page to donate

The big news re funding is, our bank balance has neen generously increased by DOC Wairarapa Operations Manager Kathy Haukaumau with $30,000 being granted to the GWBN to asssist with hut and track upkeep. This is great news and good to know  DOC has confidence in the GWBN to deliver. Hopefully DOC Masterton will be able to provide the annual grant of $10,000 in this financial year. There is plenty of catchup maintenance to do! Tēnā rawa atu koe  Kathy

We were fortunate to again recieve a funding grant from Trust House Foundation, that enabled the track clearing in the popular Totara Flats area to be completed. We were also successful in recieving a grant from the Eastern and Central Community Trust. This was for half of the costs to purchase equipment and chainsaw certification.

 Another funding application will be made to Trust House Foundation to enable tracks in the upper Ruamahunga valley to maintained in the comming summer. Also applications have been made to the Backcountry Trust to fund track work at Renata and also the tracks that the Te Araroa trail uses.

The Stihl Shop Masterton continue to support our mahi with discounted costs of all equipment purchases.

The successful fund raising in the last year helped volunteers to achieve much needed upkeep of huts and tracks. But we are continuing efforts to raise funds to help maintain the extensive hut and track networks that are critical for safe and enjoyable recreation in our popular forest parks.


Since the last newsletter, the GWBN has funded maintenance of Te Matawai, Waitewaewae and Nichols huts. Planned work on Alpha hut was unable to proceed and is now scheduled for the comming summer.

Te Matawai hut is a well used hut on Te Araroa trail. Its now now looking great thanks to a team led by Emma Gregg that gave the hut an interior and exterior repaint and general tidy up.

The Te Matawai toilet was overflowing and a health hazard and relocation and cleaning was urgently needed . A team led by Mike Sheridan with funding from DOC sorted this out.

Nichols, Adrian Regnault of Kapiti NZDA repaired the spouting on the hut, repainted the toilet and delivered an additional water tank. Nichols water supply has been in high demand by the Te Araroa traffic and another tank will be installed next summer.

Kime; DOC Masterton staff recently did urgently needed repairs to toilets and leaking water supply at the hut. DOC also intend to pump out the toilet waste in the spring. TTC club members gave the mould that was accumilating inside the hut, a good clean..

When we the recut Waitewaewae track, long time HVTC club member Murray Presland gave the mould on the hut exterior a seeing to. The wood shed got a new floor and repaint., and a good wood supply was cut. The regrowth around the hut and heli pad also got a good trim.

At Alpha, DOC funded the removal of the debris left behind from the previous re-roofing of the hut. Amalgamated Helicopters undertook the removal.

Theres been a good response to doing urgent maintenance or replacing the likes of axes. Celia Wade-Brown and Andrew Pilcher replaced axes at Cow Creek, Tutuwai and Cone hut. And Tony Gazely and Sarah Fisher did a quick trip to Maungahuka to replace the leaking tap.


2022/23 Track Programme; Quite a few of our members have been beavering away since the last newsletter, getting the tracks in the forest parks into shape.

In the last 12 months, we have completed clearing 156 kms of tramping track.

Good progress has been made getting our tracks to a better standard.

GWBN volunteers have now maintained 246 kms of tramping tracks in the forest parks over the last 19 months that the track program has been underway. There has been 113 days and 1970 total volunteer hours effort spent on track mahi. Our Stihl scrub bar has been in total operation for 550 hours. 

The team of Ali Barr, John Duggan and Nic Blair on Mt Reeve’s in wet conditions

On the Mangatoetoe and Ohau valley tracks, Mike Mulder has been at work with the chainsaw clearing windfalls and remarking.

A grant from the Trust House Foundation enabled the tracks at Totara Flats to be cleared. The Totara Creek Track to the Gentle Annie, down river to Walls Whare, the start of Cone Ridge and also Cone Saddle were all cleared.

The track clearing done in the Waingawa valley was finally completed with the clearing of the upper Atiwhakatu track to the swing bridge. This largely completes maintenance of the valley tracks from Kaitoke through to the Ruamahanga river. Some windfalls still remain to be removed.

Tracks in the Tauherenikau valley have now mostly been cleared. Clearing to Cone Saddle was completed, and also the Mt Reeves track got cleared to the summit. With normal access from Woodside blocked, an alternative route is down to Walls Whare carpark. Omega track wasnt too bad but any regrowth was cleared up to the Marchant Ridge.

Flooding damage in the Mangatainoka valley near Putara has been bypassed, and a team carried chainsaw and Scrub Bar up to Herepai hut to clear the thick sub alpine scrub and grasses up to the bushline. The track was also cleared back to the Mangatainoka river. The Pinnacles Spur at Arete Forks had the thick alpine scrub cleared by chainsaw. A bit more clearing needed with the scrub bar.

Recutting of some tracks has commenced. These are high use tracks, where gorse and other vegetation is getting away again. The simplest option is to deal with regrowth when it can still be cut using  a nylon flail on a scrub bar. Mikimiki track and the Tauherenikau Gorge tracks have had repeat clearing, along with removal of windfalls.

Several tracks like Tauherenikau Gorge are now on repeat cutting. This can vary depending on regrowth of vegetation and type of use. Recutting can be at 2 to 6 year intervals. Our 8 year schedule allows for 70 to 80 kms of maintenance annually.

GWBN volunteers Nic Blair and Franz Hubmann on the Tauherenikau Gorge re-cut

Te Araroa trail; Maintenance of the tracks used by Te Araroa walkers through Tararua have been taken on. To date, we have completed 23 kilometres of maintenance on the Waitewaewae track and Pukeatua tracks. Pukeatua was completed through to the Mangoane roadend. While at Otaki Forks, some more vegetation clearance was done on the Waitatapia section of the Waitewaewae track and the detour over the large slip improved. An assessment of a more permanent alternative to the detour around the large slip on this track on behalf of DOC.

We now have management agreements with DOC Wairarapa for 63 tramping tracks in the Aorangi and Tararua forest parks totalling 376 kms. We will continue to be in “catch-up” mode for the next 12 months or more, then repeat maintenance will increase so that these tracks are kept up to standard into the long term.

The cost of track maintenance to date using the annual DOC grant equates to $50 per kilometre of track maintained. DOC are getting a pretty good deal when the usual cost of contract track clearing is at least $1,500 per km.

Equipment and Training; Two additional chainsaws (a Stihl MS251 and Stihl MS400 C-M ) have been purchased, along with a Stihl FS461 scrub bar. This gives us  a set of equipment for the Wairarapa and Kapiti Coast, comprising a light and medium/heavy chainsaws  and Stihl 461 scrub bar each. Stihl Shop Masterton continue to support us, and funding needed was contributed to by the Eastern and Central Community Trust. (ECCT)

The ECCT funding has also enabled  the certification of GWBN members in basic chainsaw use.

2023/24 programme; If funding is obtained, the Main Range, Dora and Waiopehu sections of the Te Araroa trail will be maintained. Hopefully before the next influx of TA walkers. Funding is also being sought for recutting of tracks in the Upper Ruamahanga valley – Roaring Stag, Cattle Ridge, Dundas. Recutting of the Mangahao valley track to Te Matawai is also planned. Recutting of the tracks at Renata will begin when weather improves. Completing the whole route through to Aston also depends on funding bid to the Backcountry Trust. Marchant ridge will have windfalls removed. Several tracks handy to the roadends will be maintained (Waiotauru, Smiths Creek to Block XVI) along with repeat cutting of Kaitoke tracks. The Aorangi Crossing around Kawakawa may also get attention.

Want to support the GWBN volunteers maintain your huts and tracks in the Greater Wellington forest parks by helping us to keep our huts and tracks are available for the enjoyment of the many that recreate in our forest parks. Click here to donate

NMSC Trip Planning App

The Mountain Safety Council (MSC) continue to update trip information on  the Plan My Walk  app with 8 Tararua tracks now available for trip planning.

The Greater Wellington Backcountry Network is supported by


This newsletter is published by the Greater Wellington Backcountry Network Inc. To contact us, email is

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