11-Feb-2020 -- I am not a frequent confluence visitor. I got interested in the project many years ago, before becoming a father. With a family the priorities of my life changed and I nearly forgot the confluence project.
However in 2019 we were planning a worldtrip. As meteorologists we wanted to visit interesting places known for weather extremes. Hence we learned about the Whitcombe Track, leading to the Cropp River catchment where New Zealands wettest place is located. The station „Cropp at Waterfall“ received 11431 mm of mean annual rainfall (1982-2010) making it the third wettest region of the world.While planning our hike in this area, I noticed that it would lead as very near to this confluence. So I planned to give it a try.
Our plan was, to walk the Whitcombe track till the point, where the Cropp River flows into the Hokitika River. We were thinking, this was a distance our children (7 and 9 years) could manage. At the point where track crosses the Hokitika River, I wanted to leave my family behind for a break and go to the confluence alone.
The reality was a little bit different. After some kilometers on an easy track, the path descends down to the riverbed. We didn't notice it and continued straight on till we got stuck. It took us nearly one hour till we were on the right way again. In the riverbed we had to climb over the rocks, which was exhausting, especially for the kids. Also, after the path went away from the riverbed again, we still could not proceed quickly. The soil was wet and slippery, a lot of smaller creeks had to be crossed. We could really feel, that we were approaching New Zealands wettest place.
It turned 3 pm, 500 meters away rom the Hokitika River crossing, when we realized that we would not reach the Cropp River. So, my wife and the children turned around and I proceeded, setting myself a time limit of 4:15 pm to reach the confluence, to be sure to return before dusk.
Maybe 200 meters away from the reiver crossing, I met two other German hikers who told me that the river crossing would be difficult for one guy alone, as it was a cableway. I was worried a little bit as I had expected a bridge.
I found the cableway „cabin“ hanging on the cables lowest point in the middle of the river. After retrieving it, it took me a moment to understand how I could use a chain to lock the cabin or wagon (which is nothing much more than a simple metal box) to hold the position. Afterwards I could let roll the wagon to the lowest point again. From there I had to us a metal handle, which could be attached to the cable, to push the wagon forward. After every push forward you have to loosen the handle, to move it forward and reattach it quickly, before the wagon rolls back again. After some meters this began to become very exhausting. You can not take a break, because even to hold the wagon in place already is tiring. When I arrived at the other bank, my arms and shoulders were hurting so much that I was wondering If I could reach the other side again.
From the cableway you have to follow the river back downstream for about 1,2 km. My plan was to walk in the riverbed. First, the embankment is to steep to climb down to the riverbed, so I had to find a way through the bush, what was not too diffcult. After 200 meters I found a path down to the riverbed and could walk it without problems first. After a while the bank became very narrow. Fortunately the river had deposited a lot of tree trunks at the bank on which I was able to balance along the shoreline. At the next corner the bank became wider again and from there it was no problem to reach the confluence. Although it was already 4:15 pm now, I decided not to give up so near to the target. The confluence lies exactly at the edge of the bushland to the riverbed. A beautiful place for a break and it would also be a nice campsite.
After some rest I returned and had regained enough power for managing the cableway again. When I returned to our campervan at 7:30 pm, my wife and children waited for me already with dinner and a cold beer. I fogot all the pain in my body immediately.
This is really a place worth vistiting. You can do it on one day hiking in beautiul area away rom the tourist spots.
PS.: As I'm very late to submit my visit, I already read the report of Ross Finlayson, who visited the confluence only 19 days after me. Funny that a confluence is not successsfully visited for nearly 18 years and then there arrive two guys in less than three weeks.