In an unusual turn of events I was up early after a good night's sleep and managed to get away by 7.30am. One of the reason's for the early start was the uncertainity in the how long it would take to back to the car park via the Whirinaki track and Onepoto Cave. In the hut there had been a notice indicating new times for the Whirinaki Forest tracks after the snow damage. This had been updated in September, however the track from Upper Whirinaki to the junction with the Mangamate Hut track had not been highlighted as cleared and still showed as 3.5 hours to the bridge on the Whirinaki Track. Fortunately this proved not to be the case!
The track towards the Central Hut and the Whirinaki Track started just at the edge of the clearing near the direct track from Plateau Road. It climbed away from the stream and over a small ridge to join another one. The climb along side this stream was lovely, with some beautiful small clearings
and plenty of deer sign!
The track eventually reached a saddle and dropped down to the Taumutu Stream. There was plenty of sign of damage
along the track, but it was obvious that DOC had cleared the track and I reached the junction to Mangamate Hut only 1.5 hours after leaving Upper Whirinaki. I carried on along Taumutu and soon reached the bridge
that carries the Whirinaki Track over Taumutu (2 hrs).
After a brief stop for some photos and morning tea, I started out on the last section of my tramp along the Whirinaki Track. The track climbs steeply out of the Whirinaki valley and soon I was high above the river. This track had also suffered from damage from the heavy snow, but DOC had cleared this too, presumably not long after the damage as it is a popular track with trampers, especially those from Auckland
I began a steep descent back down towards the river indicating that Onepoto Cave was not far way. I reached the junction with the Whirinaki River route first (2hr 45min) and found the cave just 5 minutes further on. Just by the cave it looked as if some-one had a made a small bivvie as there were signs of a recent camp fire. The cave was quite impressive and much bigger than I had expected. I spent a good while exploring around.
With a bit more scroggin for strength, I started back on the track again with another steep climb to rise above the river. Two hours later I was back at the car park (4hr 45min) after a great two days tramping.