Spine of the Fish  Day 24: a day in the mist

‘move along you two, there’s nothing to see here…’

Parks Peak Hut to Dianes Hut.


We reckon we had about two kilos of deer rump to carry. Add that to the fresh food stash we had in our packs and we were very weighed down with food.

Paul looked on in sympathy as we headed off for a twenty two kilometre day.

Because of the clag there isn’t really much say about most of the trip. There wasn’t much to photograph either, but we did take a screwdriver to clear any dead stoats that we found along the way.

‘Where are we?’ Fiona looks at her map.


The stoat line around Parks Peak area is usually looked after by the Wellington Tramping Club. It’s a long way for them to come so we were happy to finish off what Janet, Graham and Richard had started two days before.

We added two stoats and a hedgehog to their tally of six stoats. Removing hedgehogs from DoC 200 traps is not a pleasant thing!

Removing a hedgehog

A day in the mist.

Approaching Dead Mans

The travel was relatively easy. We walked along a fairly flat ridgeline to the turnoff to the abandoned and slightly sad Aranga Hut before walking a few hours along quite gentle tops.

The turpentine smell of Mountain Cedar kept us company throughout the morning. Stunted beech eventually gave way to lovely red tussock, dracophyllum and rock.

Ohawai Trig before No Mans Hut

No Mans Hut

Leaving No Mans Hut…

We had lunch just before we got to the unappealing and private No Man’s Hut, then walked down No Man’s Road, a gated four wheel drive track that borders Forest Park and private iwi land. Access for hunting is restricted to winners of a yearly ballot. We hadn’t won anything but were just passing through and plus it was a Monday. We didn’t expect to meet anyone and didn’t.

It was 2.30pm when we got to the top of the steep descent down to Dianes place and my knees were threatening strike action. Roaring deer accompanied our slow trip down the steep and eventually slippery track to the stream at the bottom.

A clearing on a steep bluff let us see the lovely Dianes from across the valley for the first time. It was a long way away and my knees grumbled.

Diane’s from across the valley



As we neared the bottom of the valley the track degenerated into a dirty, slippy and rocky sluice. Sadly I fell and broke my stick: a lancewood poll topped with deer antler. Fiona had already broken hers in the Tararua Ranges.

We’d bought them both from a Kaweka Hunting guide and they’d supported us on our South Island Te Araroa trip. They’ll be missed, but we’ve kept the antlers for a transplant when we finish.

The creek bed trail upstream to the hut wasn’t any better than the slip we’d just exited and the last few metres of the day weren’t our proudest tramping moments. We completely miscalculated the track to the hut and ended up bushbashing our way up to the clearing through snowfallen manuka.

But what a hut! Another that we’ll add to our rapidly expanding list of favourites.

The stream to Dianes.

Made it!



Built in 1978 in memory of the late 21-year-old Diane Tresidder, it’s pretty basic but brimming with culture. There is plenty of firewood around and the stove is a tiny but efficient little reactor. After a cold wash in the Koau Stream we were soon cooking…ourselves and a huge chunk of finely cut meat.

Dianes Hut Stew

Dining Room Dianes Hut


I’d had my little Opinel knife sharpened before we left wellington and it did us proud (thanks Knife Edge LINK http://www.knifeedge.co.nz/  ). We don’t eat a lot of meat so it was probably the most meat we’d ever eaten at one sitting, but it was also some of the best meat we’d eaten.

As we had no oil we browned it off in a large gob of cheese (who knew?) on the hut frypan that sat it on the exposed top of the potbelly. We added tomato paste, salt, pepper, soy sauce, a veggie stock cube and simmered before garnishing it with Japanese seaweed Bonito seasoning. Random but it was awesome.

Before we tucked ourselves into bed we read through the hut book.

It goes back ten years and is full of familiar names: Ruahine personalities, trappers and a new breed of traveller…the long distance hikers.

One recent entry caught our attention, ‘a pair of Whio flew over us down at the stream.’

 

We’d heard whistling before tea but assumed that it was a smaller bird. As we read we heard it again. We rushed outside for a closer listen. It was the unmistakable sound of a male Whio! Too dark to go for a look we finished our reading and turned out our torches.

We were still in Blue Duck country.

 

A story about Diane, from a newspaper clipping that was pinned to the hut wall:

 

DEADEYE DIANE

 

Diane Tresidder is no ordinary gal, folks.

 

The 20-year-old farm worker handles a rifle with the same deadly efficiency as her sister Judith, Miss Highland Games, uses an eyebrow pencil.

 

They may be sisters but they are as different as platform shoes and hobnail boots.

 

While glamour girl Judith was waving the family name before the Highland Games crowds at Easter, Diane was dragging a 268lb, 10-pointer stag out of the bush near Kereru.

 

ONE SHOT

 

She dropped the beast with one shot from her favourite .303 rifle and spent more than two hours lugging it to her Landrover.

 

‘I saw it running through the sheep in the morning and took off after it. I caught it near a dam that backs on to a neighbouring farm’, she said.

 

It’s not the first stag to catch a broadside from Diane Tresidder, but most of the others have been smaller and in velvet.

 

‘I was lucky beacause they are pretty scarce up that way now.’

 

“TOO LADYLIKE”

 

She said that sister Judith had been out shooting with her a couple of times but felt she was ‘too ladylike’ to really get to grips with hunting.

 

Diane has been on farms since she left school and most male farm workers would have to get up pretty early in the morning to get the better of her.

 

‘I managed a farm at Kereru, near my parents’ place, for two years on my own. The owner used to come up now and then but he generally left me alone – he had no complaints.’

 

WANTS OWN FARM

 

She has worked on farms in Hawke’s Bay and the Wairarapa but has a hankering to be giving the orders and not taking them.

 

‘I want to buy a farm of my own – and it’s got to be bigger than 1000 acres.’

 

However, she is smarting under the low wages paid to farm workers and says that is ‘no use working on a farm if you want to buy one.’

 

‘I’m working in an orchard at the moment to try and make some money, but when I find the right cocky with the right wages I’ll go back to a farm’, she said.

 

‘They reckon you should marry some rich cocky’s son – but I’m not sure about that. You can’t do the things you want to when you’re married.’

 

Diane believes she runs a farm as well as anyone and she hopes one day to have a mixed farm and breed livestock.

 

In the meantime she will go shooting when she can and wait for the knight on the shining tractor to ride in an-ettnhnn t mnn mtg ]

 

The gobbledygook at the end appears in the actual printed story. I like to think that it was a result of a brain fart caused by extreme sexist overload on the part of the editor who added the last hideous sentence to what was otherwise an interesting and quite nicely observed story about late 1970s rural life.

 

Many of the comments in the hut book showed a deep respect for the wonderfully tough Diane. The hut is a great memorial to a promising life cut short.

 

 

 

Wilderlife