Showing posts with label Mt Oxford Forest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mt Oxford Forest. Show all posts

Monday, 3 February 2014

Wharfedale Track & Hut- 31st January-1 February 2014

A visit to Oxford Forest and Wharfedale Hut

My latest trip was a weekend jaunt into the Wharfedale Hut in Mt Oxford Conservation Area, it was a good trip despite some rain I had on the way out on Saturday morning. It is a bit of a long walk as Wharfedale Hut is 14.6km away from the car park. Luckily the track is mostly flat,  as it sidles gently
 along the side of the ridges in the area. 

Wharfedale Hut, Mt Oxford Forest

Day One: To Wharfedale Hut from View Hill car park


View to South from View Hill car-park
Wharfedale Track: View Hill car park to Wharfedale Saddle

I left the car at the View Hill car park which is accessed up a long gravel road to the West of Oxford township. Here is a view from the car park to the South West. There were low lying misty clouds on both days, it was also 20 degrees on the Friday. Muggy! 

The red beast at View Hill, Oxford Forest
Here is the trusty Honda parked at the View Hill car park, the access road is fair, there are two fords that can become flooded with heavy rain. There are a number of farm gates to open on the way...make sure you close them behind you. They caused no problems during my trip.

Access road leading to View Hill, Mt Oxford Forest

View to the East showing the access road leading off to the left of this photo. 

Start of the Wharfedale Track at View Hill car park

Here is the beginning of the Wharfedale Track, the track rises slowly to a saddle at 750m, 10 km's distant from the car park. The Wharfedale Track is widely used by the MTB fraternity, the bikers ride out for day & overnight trips.

Oxford Forest track map, View Hill car park

A closer view of the DOC sign at the beginning of the track, this is the access point for a number of huts/tracks in the area as well as several forested valleys.  

Wharfedale Track: 4w/d section

 The track climbs very gradually from the car park, first along a 4WD track, later the track assumes the usual back country form (rocks/roots/overgrown etc.).

Wharfedale Track: In the beech forest

Here I am about 1 km in, the track is fairly wide and clear at this point, the Wharfedale was originally surveyed and benched as a possible road into the Lees valley. Ultimately the route proved too costly and rugged to fill this purpose.  

Wharfedale Track: Junction to Ryde Falls, Coopers Creek

The first DOC track sign, as you can see this is an access point for a lot of tracks. 

Jon on the Wharfedale Track

Here I am near the track junction, it was an overcast day and slightly cool, great weather for a tramp.

Wharfedale Track: Sidling the ridges

It is a great track, it would be good on an very hot day as it is shady with a border of beech trees on both sides. The track is well maintained for the most part, packed gravel and small stones reflecting its primary use as a MTB track.

View Hill carpark from further up the Wharfedale Track
A view back towards the car park, about 2 km's in, the car park is at the base of the exotic forest in the centre of the photo. 

Wharfedale Track: One of the foot bridges
You cross a number of small bridges built on the track, they span deeper gullies, here are two photos above and below of different bridges.

Wharfedale Track: Another footbridge

Below are a series of photos showing the track and surrounding area. The forest around Oxford is infested with wasps, all you hear all day is the drone of them. You have to be careful where you stand/sit/touch to save yourself from a sting.  I carry antihistamine tablets in case I or someone else has a reaction to them.

Wharfedale Track: Nice easy gradient

Wharfedale Track: Slightly rougher conditions

A view out towards the Canterbury plains, no visibility that day.

To towards Christchurch from the Wharfedale Track

Wharfedale Track: View down into the Forest

Below is a view up towards the saddle and part of the Mt Oxford Massif from a point about 1.5km's away, the saddle is just to the right of the rise in the centre right.

Wharfedale Track: View of Mt Oxford from the track

Below are more views of the track, the condition and maintenance of it varies along its length.

Wharfedale Track: Just before the saddle

At Wharfedale Saddle, Mt Oxford Forest Park

After about 3.5 hours you arrive at Wharfedale Saddle, the high point (750m) on this particular trip. The track descends from this point down to the Dobson creek, in the Lees Valley catchment.

Wharfedale Saddle, you could camp here- no water!

As you can see there is plenty of room for a camp near here unfortunately there is no water source, so you would need to fill up before you reach this point. The closet water source would be the creeks about 1 km either side of the saddle. Lots of wood for a fire because of all of the windfall laying around. It would a nice sheltered spot for a camp.
Jon arrives at the Wharfedale Saddle, Oxford Forest

 Hey fashion Jon changes his outfit!
(Actually the sun came out and it got too hot so I changed into short sleeves).

Jon at Wharfedale Saddle

Map: Wharfedale Saddle to Wharfedale Hut, Oxford Forest Park

Dobson Creek from the Wharfedale Track

A view down into the valley from close to the saddle, the hut is still 2 hours from this point (but it is all downhill). The West side of these foothills are more densely covered than the Eastern side, the turn of the century timber milling never reached this far.

On the Wharfedale Track: half way down Dobson Creek

The hut lies at the mid point between these two descending ridge lines, in the centre of
the above photo.

Crossing a side creek 5 minutes from Wharfedale Hut

There is a track junction about 2 km's from the saddle with one track leading to Wharfedale Hut and the other climbing to Black Hill Hut

First view of Wharfedale hut as you step out of the forest

Wharfedale Hut (1965?)
Eventually you arrive at Wharfedale Hut, it is a 8 person hut with wood fire, bunk platforms and bugger all space around it. Your water source is the Dobson Stream which is down a short track to the right of the hut.

Back view of Wharfedale Hut

 There is limited space around the hut for tents, you would be far better to camp down by the river (Dobson Stream) as you would be closer to the water source and it is quite picturesque. 

Track down to Dobson Stream, near Wharfedale Hut

There is a fine deep swimming hole just downriver which makes for a great clean up spot at the end of the day. (Obviously, I indulged ;)

The swim-able pool in Dobson Creek, near Wharfedale hut

Dobson Stream in winter from Backcountry Bibles

Here is a view of the track heading down to the river. Below are two views of the hut surrounds, the balcony and a view to the North East of the hut.

Wharfedale Hut: The porch

View of the Black Range from the Wharfedale Hut porch

The hut is tidy but could use more ventilation (there are no opening windows in the hut). Because of the enormous number of wasps and sand-flies in the area you have to keep the door closed. I cooked my dinner (steak/peas/mash/gravy) outside to save myself from the fumes.

Interior of Wharfedale Hut: Sleeping platforms, benches

Interior Wharfedale Hut one of the two cooking benches

The hut has one of those superb fire boxes (really hot once you get them going), not needed the night I was there. The hut sees a lot of use, both for day trippers and overnight. I had the hut to myself but there were 10 people there the previous Saturday.

Flowering beech tree, Wahrfedale Hut area

There is a beech mast on this year, so all of the beech trees are covered in seed heads like the above.
(About every 10-15 years the beech trees produce seeds which fly away in the wind, sometime in later February/early March there will be billions of these seeds flying around, it is spectacular to see. Unfortunately, there will also be a massive population explosion of rats/mice/possums because of this food source.

DOC have already started intense poisoning programs to try and mitigate the problem, that's why you don't import exotic animals into a pristine environment (you colonial dopes!).

Below are various views of the hut interior.

Reading material in Wharfedale Hut, my cook stove on bench

Hey folks, s'up!!!
Jon inside Wharfedale Hut

View of Black Hill from the Wharfedale Hut window

I spent the night at the hut, it was very warm inside, the hut really needs better ventilation to make it more habitable.

Day two: Back to the Wharfedale carpark 

I set off home the next morning at around 4:30am, there was light rain falling and I was worried about possible rising creeks you must cross on the access road. In the event, they were only marginally higher than the previous day.

My sleeping position in Wharfedale Hut in the morning

Usual DOC warning signs inside Wharfedale Hut

I walked in the dark for about an hour and a half until day break; it's interesting walking at night as your senses work differently. You have the cone of light from your head torch, other than that all is black your ability to see is diminished. Sounds are amplified and your sense of smell is better. You rely on touch/feel/sound & smell a lot more. I really enjoy it, the distance just seemed to fly past.

On the Wharfedale Track at first light, near Wharfedale Saddle

Sunrise was just as I reached the high point at the saddle so it was mostly downhill to the car from there. There are not many photos from the second day, because of the rain I left my camera in my pack.
(rain+ digital camera= pile of worthless junk)

View Hill car park on the second day

This is what the last day was like (misty drizzle) but still good tramping weather when you are heading home to a warm shower and real food!

View down access road from View Hill car park

I enjoyed this trip especially walking out in the rain and dark (adventuresome!). I shall be back but next time I will take the other track up to Black Hills Hut and stay for a night.

Access: From Oxford- Depot Rd to Woodstock Rd, turn into Ingrams Rd, turn into Limeworks Road, turn into Wharfedale Track Rd.
Track Times: 4-5 hours to Wharfedale Hut Hut via Wharfedale Track from car park
Hut Details: Wharfedale Hut: standard, 12 bunks, wood burner, water from stream, wood shed, toilets 
Miscellaneous: Some un-bridged side streams, access road has two fords, these can be impassable in rain

Monday, 29 April 2013

Ryde Falls: Mt Oxford Forest Park: November 2012

An overnight camp at Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford Forest Park

In late November I went for an overnight tramp to Ryde Falls, in Mt Oxford Forest Park. There is not a hut near the falls, so I took my tent and pitched up in a clear space provided. It is a 2.5-3 hour trip each way, following a track through regenerating bush and scrub.

Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford Forest Park

 I started out at the car park at the end of Mountain View Road and started walking in. 

Tramping the Ryde Falls Track, Mt Oxford Forest

The area around Mt Oxford was once heavily forested, timber felling in the area decimated the native bush until only remnants remain in steep inaccessible spots. There are a network of tracks leading towards Mt Oxford, Wharefdale Hut and the Black Hill range.

DOC sign, start of the Ryde Falls Track, Coopers Creek entrance
There is quite a big car park at the beginning of the track. This photo was taken on the Sunday morning, a lot of people do the track as a day walk, I passed numerous people on both days.

Ryde Falls car park at Coopers Creek
You start on river flats and gradually ascend into exotic and native forest. The track is clear and easy to follow for its whole length, reflecting its front country location.

Ryde Falls Track: Ascending through broken scrub, Mt Oxford Forest

Mt Oxford and Coopers Creek area, Mt Oxford Forest

Looking down on Coopers Creek and the Mt Oxford Massif
The track leads to both Ryde Falls and the Wharfedale track, there is a turn off point about an hour and a half after starting out. As you can see the travelling is easy, it is well maintained and the gradient is relatively flat. I noticed a lot of mountain bike wheel tracks, this is not an official mountain bike track but that obviously doesn't stop anyone.

Descending the Ryde Falls track towards the Falls

Ryde Falls Track, travelling along the first rideline

Mt Oxford Forest: junction of Wharfedale/Ryde Falls track

The track to Ryde Falls descending to Coopers Creek

Area of old growth forest, Ryde Falls Track, Mt Oxford Forest

There was an old tramway for moving the timber out of the area, this is mostly overgrown now but there is an option to explore the area near these information panels. The Wharfedale Track turn off is close to this point, it is all down hill to Ryde Falls from this point.

Info board at site of old tramway, Coopers Creek, Mt Oxford Forest

Descending towards Ryde Falls on the Ryde Falls Track

Ryde Falls Track: just before the descent to Ryde Falls

You pop out at the bottom of the Ryde Falls Track right on Coopers Creek, a quick stream crossing and you are at the Ryde Falls camp-site. In the photo below the Falls are behind me, end of the track back to Mountain View Road is on the right.

View down Coopers Creek from the end of the Ryde Falls Track

When you reach the bottom of the valley you are surrounded by a suprisingly thick area of bush, it is really quite beautiful. There is a small amenity area with cut up logs for seats, a concrete fire pit and flat camping area next to the river. You follow this sign up a side stream to visit the Falls.

Visiting Ryde Falls from the campsite

 Ryde Falls have seven steps, the flow at the time was very low as it has been so hot and dry in Canterbury for the previous month. There is always water flowing just not a lot at certain times of he year

Next to Ryde Falls camp-site, Mt Oxford Forest

The area immediately in front of the Falls is sand fly hell, when I stopped to take these photos about a thousand of the sods attacked me at once.

Be warned, cover up before you come down to the falls.

Ryde Falls in Oxford Forest Park

View of Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford Forest
The camping area doesn't look very promising, but it was actually very nice, with the dark forest, the sound of the river/wind and a cosy fire to keep you company. There are sites for about 4 tents, a couple of small fire pits and a toilet, water is from the stream right next to the camp-site.

I had my lunch here and after the day trippers had left set up my tent, had dinner and settled down next to a fire with a brew before turning in early.


Camp site near Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford Forest

Coopers Creek passes right in front of the camp-site, the water is potable as there are no farms, forestry or industries upstream but I would still treat it before drinking the water. There is a nice shallow pool about 50 meters downstream from the camp-site.

View upstream of Coopers Creek, this is next to the camp-site

Here I am sitting in the picnic area, it is on a river terrace about 10-20 feet up from the river. There are a lot less sand flies near the camp-site, they must all be hanging out with their buddies up near the falls. There were two other groups here when I arrived all having lunch after the trek in.

Jon at Ryde Falls camp-site, Mt Oxford Forest, Canterbury foothills

Tent set up in the small camp site at Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford Forest

My small campfire at Ryde Falls for some night ambience

There isn't a lot of firewood in the immediate area, but if you go down river there is a lot more in the forest along Coopers Creek. I managed to find enough and just snapped it over rocks so it would fit in the existing firepit.

Home via the Korimako, Wharfedale and Connector Tracks

The next day, I was up early, packed up, had breakfast and headed back out to the car park. On the way back I followed the Korimako Track up to the Wharfedale Track, there were a lot of ferns growing alongside this trail, a fire a couple of years ago cleared away the competition.

Map: The relationship between the Korimako, Link and Ryde Falls Tracks

Lots of ferns on the Korimako Track, Oxford Forest Park
 There were several more open areas where the ferns predominated.

On Korimako Track: ascending track towards Wharfedale track, Mt Oxford Forest

Korimako Track: Ascending track towards Wharfedale track, Mt Oxford Forest

When you get to the Wharfedale Track, you travel along for 10-15 minutes and then join the Link Track to get back to the Coopers Creek/Mountain Road car park.

On the Wharfedale Track heading for the Link Track to Coopers Creek

Track sign at the Wharfedale Track - Link Track junction

On the Link Track heading back to Coopers Creek, Mt Oxford Forest

I passed some examples of windfall on the track heading back to the car park. This beast was at least 2-3 times taller than me (I'm 6'3") I'm glad I wasn't in the forest when that wind storm came through. There was a whole area of windfall and all of the dead trees were the same size. 

Big Wind!!!

Massive windfallen tree, Connector Track, Coopers Creek

All in all an excellent trip, next time I will do it as a day trip as the whole trek could be done in about 5 hours.