Aug 30 2017

Government Track and beyond

Published by under Trampers

32 km from carpark.
2.5+ hours from road to pole-line and Styx Road.
No. 22 on old hardcopy list of 113 club tramps. “Government Track Waipori Rd. Year Round.”
Link:  DCC: Mountain biking on Government Track
Link: DCC: Government Track map.
[DCC brochure extract: Government Track. 4 hr 30 min, 17 km (return).
The track entrance is 5 km down Waipori Falls Rd on the right; parking is 100 m further on the left. Traversing the slopes of the beech-and mānuka-forested Waipori Valley south of Dunedin, the Government Track was built in the 1860s to provide access to the central goldfields. For mountain bikers there is an option of riding up and returning the same way. Alternatively, once at the top follow the pylon track left and steeply down into Waipori township, then follow the road back to the start.]

26. 30/8/2017. Trampers. Government Track. M. Leader: Dave.

14 keen  trampers met at the carpark near the start of the Government track on Waipori Road.  We soon started on the track noting the 4 twisted manuka trunks at the side of the track.  The track has a gentle grade and is 8.5km long.

The reason for the gentle grade and generous width of this track lies in its origin as the original “road” from Berwick through to the Waipori gold fields. Over 20 men were employed during the 1860’s to form this publicly-funded work, which was never much more than a bridle track unsuitable for wheeled traffic. When completed, it provided a cheaper alternative route to bring in supplies (horse drawn) from Dunedin, which previously had to be carted round via Lawrence.

Morning tea was had over the style, up the ridge, in the sun and on time at 10am!

(Margreet pic.)

We continued up the track which is through native bush, mainly manuka, kanuka and silver beech

(Margreet pic.)

. There were occasional views out to the Waipori valley and surrounding hills. A number of big tree trunks lying over the track were either scrambled under or over. There was plenty of talking and hilarity on this trip which was great!

Lunch break was at the top of the track, again in the sun.

(Margreet pic.)

We then continued along the forestry road and stopped at the highest point (580 metres) where there were great views all around,

(Phil pic.)

particularly Maungatuas, Lammerlaws and Rock and Pillar range.  Moving on to the top of the kowhai spur we stopped to get panoramic views of the Taieri plain, very clear because of the fine day. The kowhai spur is aptly named as it is steep and feet can move to the front of your boots! The next break was at a farmer’s workers hut

(Margreet pic.)

before heading down the ridge, through some bush and back on to the bottom of the Government track.  A number of birds were heard and sighted including kereru (wood pigeon) and bellbirds. On getting back to the cars we found we had covered 18.5km. A fair walk!

It was then off to the wobbly goat (with some wobbly legs) in Outram for a well, deserved coffee and more chit chat.

A great group to be with – Dave M.

25. 23/11/2016. Hikers. Government Track. E. Leaders: Jim and Betty.

Route map courtesy Ian. (N.B.) Used shortcut route on return. Regular route a bit longer.)

Route map, Government Track, courtesy Ian. (N.B. Used old shortcut route on return. Regular route a bit longer.)

The party consisted of 23 people.

The weather’s appearance was indifferent.  But the Government track up the Waipori Gorge afforded good shelter in the bush.  The condition of the track was excellent [thanks to track-clearing by the leaders on their recce, especially on the zig-zag beginning – ed.] and this track has a very moderate consistent gradient.  The return was a slight downhill grade & a total of approximately 9.5 kms was covered. Lunch stop …

Lunch. (Ian pic and caption.)

Lunch on Government Track. (Ian pic and caption.)

… was brief as there was drizzle approaching.   On the return to the car park some hikers took an old short cut which gave them a minute advantage.

Hot drinks were enjoyed at the Wobbly Goat in Outram, …

Last of the Summer Wine. (Adrienne pic.)

Last of the Summer Wine. (Adrienne pic.)

… before returning to Mosgiel. – Betty and Jim.

 24. 17/2/2016. Trampers. Government Track. Leader: Various.
At the car park, Bush Road, we looked towards the silver peaks. It was raining. We were told the wind was 50k plus, so we changed our mind and decided on the Government Track.
Arrived at the lower Waipori car park. In front of us was bright blackberries. To the left a tree full of apples, and a deafening sound of crickets.
Five of us set off up Government Track. Morning tea at the grass clearing. No wind, little sun.

At the top of the Government Track, we had lunch in the sun.

Lunch in the sun. (Helen pic)

Lunch in the sun. (Helen pic)

After lunch, walked along …

Along the pole line (Helen pic)

Along the pole line (Helen pic)

… and down the pole line to the hut.

Down the pole line to the hut (Heb pic and caption)

Down the pole line to the hut. (Heb pic and caption)

Turned right, found a tape marker which led us over and down to the style on the track just below where we had morning tea. Carried on down the track to the car park.
Heard lots of wood pigeons and bellbirds. A great day’s tramp. About 17k, and quite warm temperatures. – Heb.

23. 21/10/2015 Hikers. Government Track. Leaders: Betty and Jim.
22. 27/5/2015. Trampers. Government Track, return part Kowhai Spur.
GPS of route, courtesy Ken. Government Track-part of Kowhai Spur (Ken pic and caption)

GPS of route, courtesy Ken. Government Track-part of Kowhai Spur. Walked 17.1 km; ave 4.4 km/hr; moving time 3hr.54min; climbed 480mtrs. (Ken pic and caption)

The day looked suspect, with some light drizzle, but the turn out at the carpark was very good, & we had 6 members on our adventure for the day. We motored out to the carpark at the Government Track where it was cold & still drizzling, so it was on with the rain jackets before we set off. Once into the bush, the rain became a non issue, but everybody kept their jackets on to combat the cold.
We had a short stop for morning tea,
1. Packing up after morning tea. (Ken pic)

1. Packing up after morning tea. (Ken pic)

then pushed on towards the very muddy part of the track, just before the open grassed area, where we hoped that our planned route would bring us back to on the return journey. The track was in excellent condition, as it had just been cleared, apart from some large trees down across the upper part, which we had to crawl under.We stopped just short of the top for lunch, as there was a cool wind blowing, & the bush gave us shelter. Then it was onto the Poleline track…
2. Looking back along Poleline track. (Ken pic and caption)

2. Looking back along Poleline track. (Ken pic and caption)

…which had some snow remnants lying on it.
3. Trudging through the snow grass. (Ken pic and caption)

3. Trudging through the snow grass. (Ken pic and caption)

We estimated the distance to the top of Kowhai Spur to be about 1Km, but were surprised to find it was actually over 2kms, but when we got to the top & looked down on the amazing views of the Taieri & surrounds,
4. View from top of Kowhai Spur. (Ken pic and caption)

4. View from top of Kowhai Spur. (Ken pic and caption)

5. another view from top. (Ken pic and caption)

5. another view from top. (Ken pic and caption)

it was worth the trudge through the snow. We made our way down the steep track till we came to the hut on the true right of the spur,
6. Hut where we turned off Kowhai Spur. (Ken pic and caption)

6. Hut where we turned off Kowhai Spur. (Ken pic and caption)

where we left the spur, & went down through a very steep paddock heading back to the Government Track. This part of the trip was quite hard, due to the steepness, & the muddy tracks formed by cattle movement. However, we were soon within sight of the Government Track, & didn’t even have to climb a fence to get back onto it. We came out at the first fence with a stile over it, [the boundary of the privately owned land] on the uphill side of the grassed area. Then it was a brisk walk back to the cars, & the trip home, punctuated with a stop at Outram…
7. Latest Cafe footwear fashion. (Ken pic and caption)

7. Latest Cafe footwear fashion. (Ken pic and caption)

8. Trampers coffee club. (Ken pic and caption)

8. Trampers coffee club. (Ken pic and caption)

…for the “Trampers Coffee Club”. – Ken.
21. 12/6/2013. Trampers. Government Track. Styx Rd return.
6 trampers ventured out for the walk up Government Track today. We stopped at a “dry area” for morning tea, at about 10am, then carried on to the top at Styx Rd. where we had lunch in the sun. The sign at the bottom had said 2 1/2 hrs to the top, & that’s very much what it took us.
Lunch

Lunch at top of Government Track. (Ken pic and caption)

After lunch we had a discussion on whether we tried Kowhai Spur, or just go back down the way we had come. The unknown condition of Kowhai Spur [very steep & slippery] meant that the decision was made to go back the way we had come, so we set off, & arrived back at the cars at 3:00pm.
Thanks to the earlier start time of 9:00 instead of 9:30, we were able to complete this 18.5km walk before it got too cold in the afternoon, & it gave us a time buffer if somebody had injured themselves.
We walked 18.5km
moving time 4hr 15mins
climbed 364mtrs
– Ken.
20. 3/10/2012. Both. Government Track. Leaders: Graham, Judy.
There were 17 of us, (but one turned back before the paddock). We did between 8-10 km in total, getting up to the beech section for lunch (much further than the Hikers did last time). The wind across the farm paddock was as severe as the last time the Trampers had done it. Several in the group were doing the track for their first time and were equally amazed at the ease of the gradient, and appalled at the muddy section just prior to the paddock. (They didn’t know how much better the present marked route was than some earlier routes through the slough.) This, and some other tricky bits took careful negotiating for those unsteady on their feet.
Four of the Trampers left early and did the whole track. Ken’s GPS record shows that they did 18.2 km at 4.4km/hr average. Moving time was only 4hrs 9min.Total ascent was 523 mtrs. They took an extended lunch break, making stopped time 1hr 19min. – Ian.
19. 6/4/2011. Both. Government Track. Medium. Leaders: Les and Margaret.
There is no comment from the hikers on this one, so here is a report from the trampers.
It mitigated against the intended ‘bothness’, but the leaders generously permitted three appreciative trampers to set off to do the whole track. The sign posts indicate 2.5 hours up and 2 hours down. The trampers almost made the 2 hours down but fell well short of the time up. 19 km there and back!
When we arrived at the ‘paddock’, the predicted wind was there in full force and it was a real battle to make our way across and around its slope and back into the shelter of the bush. The sloppy muddy gully just below the paddock gets no better as time goes by, despite the many attempts to re-route the track to avoid it.

GPS of Government Track from the road to the Pole Line. Courtesy Ken. Depicts how close Kowhai Spur is to the track. The multitude of gullies traversed by the track are clearly depicted. 19 km ret.

The track was well-cleared and the gradient as usual beautifully steady.

A shot of beech trees taken looking across one of the upper gullies.

Track disappearing up into the gully. Taken from the same spot as the one above.

The above pic shows only a modest amount of pig rooting. It was much worse in other places with us having to tread a new path amongst the upturned soil.
Temperatures were cooler up at the Pole Line so we retreated from it back from the gusty wind into the shelter of the manuka bush to munch a quick lunch. There was nothing tempting us to linger long.
Doug set a good pace on the return trip and the clear track allowed us to step it out with a good swing.
Back at the exposed paddock, we found the wind had lost none of its force, but fortunately it was a tail-wind this time. Then it was the atrocious gully again. The paddock and its gully had to be the worst features of the tramp. – Ian
18. 3/2/2010. Hikers. Government Track. Medium. Leaders: Neil, Lex.
Location: 30 km.
17. 9/9/2009 Government Track, return Kowhai Spur. Leaders: Ian, Sabina.
Starting Government track. George

Beginning Government track. George, Susan

A bit further along the track. Susan, Sabina

A bit further along the track. Susan, Sabina, Glenice

Morning tea on the paddock.

Morning tea on the paddock. Susan, Ken, George, Glenice, Sabina

Through the silver beech section. Ken.

Through the silver beech section. Ken, George, Susan, Glenice, Sabina

Lunch at the pole line. George, Glenice

Lunch at the pole line. George, Glenice

Lunch on other side of track. Sabina, Susan

Lunch on other side of track. Sabina (showing her colourful hat), Susan

DOC sign pointing back down the track.

DOC sign indicating back down the track.

Start Kowhai Spur. Ken.

View from top of Kowhai Spur. Waipori Lake and Taieri River gorge beyond. Ken Susan, George, Glenice, Sabina.

Further down.

Shaws Hill road and ridge from a little further down Kowhai Spur. Sabina, Susan detectable.

Rest by former hut site. Glenice, Sabina

Preparing to rest near site of former hut which had been moved up the hill behind camera.. Glenice, Sabina

16. 17/9/2008 Waipori Gorge Area, 1860s Government Track, Waipori Leaders: Bill H, Peter B
The 'disturbed' kanuka

The ‘disturbed’ kanuka

The ‘disturbed’ kanuka

The programme said ‘Waipori’, but it really meant Bill H’s traditional walk up the “Gummint Track”. As a past long-serving employee in the area (both on a farm and in electricity supply) he was the ideal leader.  As slips had made the upper reaches of the track difficult, the 15 of us began walking from the end of the seal up the Waipori road, then crossing farmland and having morning tea beside the river. After that we were following the route taken by early prospectors up the steady incline of the old 1860s Government standardised track for drays and horses to the Central Otago Goldfields. After an initial 3-minute climb, the track maintains a remarkably consistent, gentle gradient considering theodolites were not used and the construction teams used handtools!  The day was calm and mild, and spring growth was evident in the lovely mixed broadleaf forest, with signs of fuschia flowers and kowhai. The track was carpeted with innumerable ’skellingtons’ of fuschia leaves (the fuschia is one of the few deciduous NZ trees) which made it soft and springy and patterned.There were also Kanuka, Matai, Totara and juvenile Lancewood. At one point there were 4 Kanuka alongside the track that must have had a disturbed childhood as they all had right-angle bends in them! The sound of the river gradually receded, and at lunchtime we came out onto cleared farmland with cattle and a good view up the gorge to look at while we ate. We returned by the same route.  There was some birdlife to remark upon– paradise ducks, bellbirds, warblers- but the most remarkable was at a willow tree on the river flat in which Arthur counted 13 wood pigeons, all greedily gorging great gulps of green tips.  A very pleasant walk of about 16km through lovely local terrain.  – Bob

15. 12/12/2007. Hikers. Government Track. Medium. Leaders: Bill H

Resting among the trees

Only seven hikers took advantage of the ideal place to be on a very warm & humid day, the lovely bush of the Government Track in the Waipori area. It is a lovely place for a hike. Beautiful bush and beech forest. Lots of birds singing in the trees and great views of surrounding bush and road to Waipori Falls. The track is not too difficult and although you go fairly high it is a relatively gentle climb most of the way. With only a small number we took our time and lapped up the cool and pleasant conditions of the track. Morning tea sitting by the track just after 10am, and then, about 12noon, 5 of us decided we would stop for lunch. Two of the group thought they’d like a bit more of a challenge so went further up the track and had lunch before heading back. Those of us in the larger group found a really lovely spot in the beech forest to sit, chat and enjoy our lunch break. Then it was back down the track, (down hill all the way!) to the cars. All agreed we had had a very enjoyable days hiking. – Bev.

14. 29/11/2006. Hikers. Government Track. Medium. Leaders: Arthur and Barbara.
13. 5/7/2006. Both. Government Track. Leaders: (Easy+): Doug M, Bob H; (Easy):  Arthur & Barbara
12. 21/9/2005 Arthur & Barbara, Bill H, Lance & Lois
11. 22/9/2004. Hikers. Government Track, return. Easy. Leaders: Jack and Rosemary, Frank and Lesley.
10. 26/5/2004 Lesley S, Irene, Les W, Mary M, Ray
9. 22/10/2003. Both. Government Track. Medium. Leaders: Trampers: Helen S, Kerri; Hikers: Mary M, Barbara L.
8. 13/2/2002. Combined. Government Track. Leaders:
7. 6/12/2000. Government Track. Leaders: Jack and Rosemary, Mary Y.
13/9/2000 Bill H, Bill & Pat
6. 7/7/1999. Government Track. Leaders: Les W, Mary M, Ray.
5. 7/10/1998. Government Track. Leaders: Lance and Lois.
4. 16/7/1997. Government Track. Leaders: Hugh, Bill H, Lesley S
3. 23/10/1996. Hikers. Government Track, Waipori. Leaders: Jack and Rosemary, Ted.
2. 14/12/1994. Government Track. Easy. This is a morning walk only, and as it is our last official tramp for the year, please bring some finger food to share for lunch, to be eater at the picnic ground. Leaders: Denise, Mary Y, Les and Mavis.
1. 13/3/1991 Government Track, Waipori Gorge, return Kowhai Spur. Nice bush and tussock walk. Average+. Leaders: Denise, Hugh and Judith, Ria de J

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