01-Mar-2020 -- This is a point that has tormented me for five years, so I was pleased to finally visit it. This was actually my third attempt to visit this point. On my first attempt, in February 2015, I took the Whitcombe Track - which runs along the northern side of the Hokitika River. (The Degree Confluence Point is on the southern side of the river.) On that attempt, I was unable to get close enough to record a successful visit.
My second attempt - about two years ago - was also unsuccessful, and I didn’t bother submitting it to this site. On that attempt, I tried to repeat what the first visitor, Bruce James, had done in 2002. I started from the Hokitika Gorge tourist site, crossed the bridge there to the southern side of the Hokitika River, and tried bushwhacking from there to try to find a track that would take me to a walkable part of the southern river bank. Unfortunately the bush was just too thick, and I gave up.
This time I decided to repeat my strategy from my first attempt: Take the Whitcombe Track along the northern side of the river, but then take the cableway (east of the Degree Confluence Point) across the river to the southern side. From there, I would leave the track, and bushwhack westward through the bush, and along the river bank, to try to reach the point. This time, I was successful, but only after a strenuous hike of 18.5 km total.
As in my first attempt, I started from the end of Whitcombe Valley Road, and hiked eastward along the Whitcombe Track. At first, this runs through farmland, but then drops down to the river bank, for about a 1 km hike along the river’s rocky northern shoreline. Then, at [-42.99420,170.99589], the track climbs back off the riverbank, into bushland. (This is a point that I had failed to find during my first attempt.) I then continued eastward along the track, through the bush, passing about 160m from the Degree Confluence Point (which lies on the far side of the river).
Then, at [-43.00715,171.01101], I reached the cableway across the river. This was my first experience negotiating a cableway. This cableway consisted of a small metal carriage - enough to hold one person - hanging under a cable that runs across the river. A hand crank - at each end - can be used to winch the carriage across the river. With two or more people, therefore, it is easy to cross: Each person gets in the carriage, and another person uses the hand crank to winch them over the river. I, however, was hiking alone, which made the crossing much more difficult. Each time, I needed to first use the hand crank to retrieve the carriage from the middle of the cable. I then had to lock the carriage in place (using a small chain), and climb inside. I then released the chain, and let the carriage roll to the cable’s lowest point, about halfway across the river. Now came the hard part: I attached a metal handle (located inside the carriage) to the cable, and used it to keep pulling myself along the cable, until I reached the far side. I found this exhausting (and even more so on the return trip), but eventually made it to the far side.
At this point I was about 1.2 km southeast of the point, and still had another difficult hike (through bush, and along the river’s rocky southern shoreline) to reach the Degree Confluence Point, which lay in bush (including young Rimu trees), just off the river bank. This is a beautiful spot; I was thrilled to finally reach it.
Here is a remote-controlled aerial video of this confluence point.