02-Jan-2003 -- I became interested in the confluence project about a year ago when I read about it in an internet magazine.
This is the last and most remote of the North Island confluences to be visited.
Many prospective confluence hunters have probably been put off this one as they assumed that it lay in the rugged, heavily forested and untracked wilderness of the Raukumara Forest Park.
Closer inspection of a 1:50,000 scale map revealed that the confluence lay about 2km from the park’s eastern boundary on remote farming country indicating that, although a visit would be difficult, it would not be impossible. So, as this was the last North Island confluence to be visited, it was this one or nothing.
Close inspection of the map showed that the confluence was situated far up on the Puketoro Station, a 5500ha sheep and cattle station located about 30km up a narrow winding gravel road from Te Puia Springs. Te Puia Springs is a small settlement 120km north of the nearest large population centre, the city of Gisborne.
I arranged a visit with the station manager Reed Lougher who showed an interest in the project and kindly agreed to take the time to drive me to the site on his quad bike. The rugged terrain and large distances involved made it impractical and unsafe to walk from the station homestead to the confluence site.
We left the station homestead at 8.30am in perfect summer weather. It took a little over an hour to ride the 10km to the confluence site. The trip over rugged farm track dropped down to the Waitahaia River crossing at an elevation of 300m and a steep ascent to a ridgeline up to a high point of 1081m. The confluence point was 500m down a spur to the west of this north/south-oriented ridge. We walked down the steep slope from the farm track for about 15 minutes to reach the point.
The exact confluence site itself is at an elevation of 935m and was easily found next to a old log with the use of a compass and a GPS in the rough pasture. The pasture was littered with old logs that are a legacy of the time that this land was cleared of native forest by burning during the first two decades of last centry. Of all the North Island sites, this confluence seems to have the best views with views west and north across the valley to the Makokomuka valley to the Raukumara Forest Park and south across the rugged hill country farmland.
One other point of interest from this rugged but beautiful confluence site is its close proximity to Mt Hikurangi (1752m). Although not visible from the confluence site itself, it is clearly visible from the ridgeline 500m up from the confluence. The mountain, 8km away from this point, has great spiritual and cultural significance for the local Ngati-Porou iwi. It is also one of the first places in the world to see the sun of the new day.
It was well worth the extra effort to visit this remote confluence with its great views and rugged splendour. I guess I’ll have to visit the South Island or Australia to conquer some more land based confluences but I surmise that few are as spectacular and as interesting as this one.