Skimming the Akatarawas

Yesterday, being bright and sunny, I was looking for something to do, and thought I might attempt to find the proposed location of a new water catchment dam on the Whakatikei River in the Akatarawas. Such a dam is one of three options being put forward as part of the Wellington City Council’s Draft Water Conservation & Efficiency Plan, which is being consulted on until 15th October. The other two options are to make everyone install water meters to encourage everyone to use water more efficiently, or to live with periodic water shortages in the region.

Unfortunately my plan didn’t work very well. I started with this great map (below) of the proposed dam site from page 28 of the plan’s PDF discussion document, and I think my admittedly slim knowledge of the Akatarawas didn’t help too much.

Maybe they thought nobody would bother to go out and try to look for this proposed dam site.
Wainui Stream.

From the map, I thought it looked as if the dam site was somewhere off the end of Bulls Run Road, a few kilometres off Provincial State Highway 58 between Pauatahanui and the Hutt Valley, so that’s where I started. The road’s nice, it ends in a gate followed by a short walk to an almost immediate stream crossing (not the Whakatikei — I think it’s the Wainui Stream). It’s actually a ford for vehicles, but still at least knee deep and today at least it was flowing quite fast, despite there not having been much rain for a day or three.

I stood knee-deep in the Wainui Stream on a couple of occasions, but decided the current was stronger than I felt comfortable with pressing through on my own. I think it’d have be very crossable, but something didn’t feel quite right and there was nobody around to bounce ideas off, so I didn’t attempt it. Then, after some quick surveying up and down the road during which time I saw a cute flock of 10 tiny ducklings all scrunched together, I went back 10 minutes later thinking I might have missed a better crossing point, and I still didn’t cross. I got really soppy socks, though. I wonder if I should have tried to get in from somewhere slightly different.


So that was unfortunate. Comparing the PDF map with a real map, the Whakatikei River is about 200 metres from the gate on this end of Bulls Run Road, and I’m guessing the proposed dam site might be about 1.5km further up-stream. It’s really hard to tell, though.

Plan B, which wasn’t much of a plan at all, was to drive down to Upper Hutt and attempt to find the other end of Bulls Run Road. (Bulls Run Road is one of those roads that runs a complete length, but for which the middle section is inaccessible.) Plan B didn’t work either, as I never found the other end. According to my topo map and my GPS, it should have come off the end of an Upper Hutt street called Grace Nicholls Grove, and I hoped I might be able to get from there somehow up the Whakatikei River. No luck again — Grace Nicholls Grove ends at a reservoir with a big private property sign which implied that any passing (not just vehicles) was disallowed.

What I figured out from all of this is that I think I need a better plan, and maybe to talk to someone who knows the Akatarawas better than I do. That’ll be another day.

There’s a nice Tararua profile between the gorse.

Not wanting to go straight home, I spent a couple of hours walking around the Cannon Point Loop, a short and easy loop above the Hutt River. It’s a nice walk that follows a ridge along the edge of the Akatarawas above Upper Hutt, and with very nice and clean tracks cut through the 2-3 metre high gorse.

Here’s the map of the day, much of which just shows my driving around confused.
[Download GPX] [LINZ Topographic Map in new window]

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