North Ohau Hut

ohauThe planned trip had initially been to go into North Ohau Hut via the Mangahao River. However the forecast for the weekend was not so good. So plans were altered to a less weather dependent route for North Ohau Hut via Deception Spur. The contingency if the weather was really terrible was to go up to Te Matawai hut on the Gable End Ridge track. So there were quite a number of possibilities when we left the train station on Friday night.

ohau4Once we got to the Poad’s Road end there was only a slight northerly so the tramping conditions were pretty much perfect. It took a little over an hour to reach our camping site near the Ohau River.

In the morning the conditions were largely the same (warm but overcast with a good chance of rain) so we quickly packed up and were walking again by 7:30am. Our initial walk took us up the Ohau to the fork between the North and South rivers. The route up Deception Spur starts almost right on the point of the fork and is a very steep bush bash at the start. We got caught in the occasional bit of bush lawyer but eventually the notional track cleared out into an obvious track up the spur.

ohau3After an hour or so of undulating track we made it up the spur to point 865 – a big decision point! Either we went northeast and up to point 897 and down to North Ohau Hut or we veered South and went over to Girdlestone Saddle for Te Matawai Hut for the night. The weather looked reasonable and hut bagging motivations prevailed so we headed for North Ohau.

Once at point 897 and after a quick lunch, we headed down the hill following a pink ribbon trail. There was some intense bush bashing at times and the ribbons were sporadic in parts so it was often a case of following instinct. It took around one hour before we saw the hut log drop followed quickly by the hut.

We had arrived at the hut just after 2:30pm which could have been problematic as there isn’t often much to do in the hut. The weather had regressed into some gentle rain so that made exploration of the surrounding area less attractive. The hut book had also just been replaced so we couldn’t do much research about escape routes should the rain get far heavier. Luckily there was a decent magazine collection to keep us occupied and the warmth of the fire meant napping became a desirable option.

ohau2There was some discussion about escape routes with the weather closing in further and was raining heavily (the normal route being river bashing back to the forks). The most obvious option was to head up a spur across from the hut. We decided to leave it the morning as the delicious chorizo pasta that WeiMin and Debbie had created was ready. This was followed by a desert of custard and ginger cake. This totally satiated the group and, with the now sauna like hut, everyone was thinking of sleep.

The rain eased over night so we were able to depart down the river as normal. The water was groin tingling cold at points but not too deep. There was quite a lot of boulder hopping broken up by the occasional river terrace. It took little over an hour to return to the river forks at Deception Spur where we had been the day before.

We retraced our path down the Ohau River to a strange shelter slightly hidden on the banks of the river where we stopped for snacks and lunch (snunch?). There were a few theories about what this was used for (mainly illegal crop cultivation although I am pretty sure it is the site of an old hut).  The structure appears to have been upgraded recently with a PVC frame and tarpaulin. It makes for a nice retreat from the rain.

After leaving the last bit of the track was again very straight forward and we were out to the Poads Rd shelter in about an hour. We had finished by approximately two o’clock and had the time to stop for a deserved coffee in Levin before the drive back to Wellington.

5 thoughts on “North Ohau Hut”

  1. Thankyou Heather for your info on getting too north Ohau. No I won,t be venturing up there until I feel alot more confident about current wx,rain and river levels,and my fitness level. Some years ago I had abit of an incident at Hutt forks, the only deep pool in the whole place. I bassiclly jumped streight in without sizing up the situation. I felt very silly afterwoulds. The resolt was my Vidio Camera never went again.Years ago I led a trip up Deception spur and over into the Mangahau, and then up the river and over Girdlestone saddle and down Dowling Falls. Carn,t remember anything about the falls, even though I had been up them years before with Nick Jennings.Sometime ago I came that section of track too Girdlestone saddle from Tematawhi Hut .Very steep in places comming down. I love the area around Te Matawhi, with its great view looking up too the tops form the verander. I think that will be my next port of call,comming up from south Ohau hut, If I feel confident about wx and fitness up the Yates 500, chees,Dave.

  2. I have done the North Ohau when the water level did not seem high but even then, I had to nearly swim in one pool. Can’t really say how deep the deeper pools are as it depends on the water level and one’s height. But it’s not a trip to do when raining or after heavy rain.

    The following is some intel on the pools from WTMC club trip reports.

    In the report titled ‘Ohau Huts’ James writes: “The next section to the North Ohau Hut was a bit slower due to some deeper pools and narrower sections. This is not a trip you would want to attempt with high river levels”.

    In the report titled ‘Mid-Otaki’ Cindy writes: “We were maybe 30mins from North Ohau Hut, when we came to a fairly deep pool. Meredith and Ben are both taller than me and it looked like they were maybe just managing, or perhaps not quite. Phoebe, the shortest of the group was resigned to it and ploughed on through. I dithered, wondering which route might be best. Meredith lent me her walking poles and I shuffled cautiously round the left side of the pool, the water creeping up my thighs. Then suddenly I was in up to my neck and flailing around to regain my footing. Thankfully it wasn’t too cold and I was soon sloshing my way to the bank.”

    You’ll see some footage of the North Ohau river in a YouTube clip titled ‘North Ohau Hut – River tramp’. At 1.50, you’ll see one of the pools.
    Here’s the url:

    It’s a nice trip to North Ohau Hut. One that will be most enjoyable when the river is low and the weather is fine.

  3. Hi its Dave Forbes here. Have planned too go and have a look at North Ohau hut, as I have never been in the north ohau catchment. Have wred there are a few deep pools in the north ohau r. As im nearly seventy I felt a little concerned about these. On average how deep are these?And whot would whot would be an average time from the forks too north ohau hut.idid read in the hut book some years ago at south ohau where Tony Banks got caughtout with South Ohau branch coming up, and he was force too climb up onto Deception spur,and work his way around too north ohau hut. With bush conditions in the area being thick,Iwould say it wasn,t a plesent change of plan?Comments please.

  4. Kia ora Rangahmang. Yes it does read like it was a great trip and thanks for your question. From the nztopomap there looks to be options but will ask some of our members if anyone’s gone up and over between the two Ohau huts. In the meantime, you could check out one of TTCs trip reports (URL below). While the TTC group did go around the back of deception spur, it wasn’t up from South Ohau Hut. As you will read, they joined a spur that comes up from South Ohau Hut at pt. 660.

    Heather (WTMC Secretary)

  5. Sounds like a great trip guys , wondering if there might be a folk lore track from South Ohau Hut to North Ohau hut around the back of deception spur?


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