Clearing ol’ 42

The 42 Traverse is an old logging road across the Tongariro Forest Conservation Area. The number “42” refers to an earlier description of that area as “State Forest 42”.
While the track from Kapoors Road in the south to the car park at the Owhango end is less than 20km, the overall distance from highway to highway is curiously close to 42km!
To continue to use the old road, it is necessary to keep it cut back.
On  November 23 a group of four-wheelers assembled at the pumice pit at the end of Kapoors Road, along with two Department of Conservation (DoC) staff. We had a group of eight from the Taupo 4WD Club, four from Auckland 4WD Club, four from the Manawatu led by Peter Robertson, and four from a 4WD club at Ohakea  Air Force Base led by Ryan Budd.
Following a safety briefing by DoC, it was decided to break into three groups, with the Taupo team, headed by John Wilton, pushing on to an area of predominantly native bush, while the other two groups worked on the overgrowing broom (cytisus scoparius), and pampas grass at the start of the track.
With a few people using petrol-powered tools, and the others clearing the cut material from the track, a pattern was soon established, and the teams managed to clear more than 2km on the Saturday.
This was less than achieved last year on the Owhango end, but the overgrowth this year was almost continuous, whereas in 2012 there were more gaps in the overgrowth. It was rather warm this year too, but as the day progressed, the sky blackened with a thunderstorm approaching off the mountains. By 3pm it was wet, so many of the teams elected to start home, but via the remainder of the 42 Traverse. DoC had given permission, as the route is usually closed to 4WDs until December 1 each year.
That’s something that might need reviewing, as while we were being briefed by DoC in the morning, a group of “side by side” or UTV’s with steering wheels, arrived to drive the track. At present they have year-round access, as not being “full size” 4WDs, but that seems unfair, since several were as large as a Suzuki Jimmy in our group, and the Suzuki is excluded from May to December!
The Auckland crew stayed overnight in National Park at the Park Hotel, Ruapehu, and went back to the 42 Traverse on Sunday morning with two DoC staff again, to continue clearing. Close to 1km was cleared before we headed home at lunchtime.
With a bit more than 3km cleared, we made a small dent in the overall maintenance needed, and it seems that it will be something that will need more effort if we are to retain use for most 4WDs.
DoC has for many years done an annual run through with a digger to address drainage and surface maintenance, but this year they could only do half the route before the budget ran out.
Thank you to all those who helped over the weekend, and maybe this report will spur even greater support for future work programmes on this rather special route.

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