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September 2016 Issue
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A tiny biv in a big range

On the tops approaching McGregor Biv. Photo: Jess Clark
12.8km to McGregor Bivouac
Total Ascent
Road end to Jumbo Hut, 4hr; Jumbo Hut to McGregor Bivouac, 4hr
McGregor Bivouac (free, two bunks), Jumbo Hut ($15, 20 bunks), Atiwhakatu Hut ($5, 26 bunks)
From the end of Mt Holdsworth Road
BP33, BP34

McGregor Bivouac, Tararua Forest Park

There are many ways to get to McGregor Bivouac, a nice stopping point on a number of different accessible routes in the Tararuas and which also provides some great tops-travel and panoramic views.

Depending on the weather, a nice loop-trip that includes the biv starts from Holdsworth Lodge, climbing to Jumbo (1405m) and carrying on over Angle Kob and dropping down to the bivouac. The loop continues past the Broken Axe Pinnacles and Baldy, before dropping down to Atiwhakatu Stream and walking out. The weather does need to be quite good to do this, as the tops are exposed and Broken Axe Pinnacles is challenging.

On our trip, the weather was variable, so we took a slightly less adventurous route.

From Holdsworth Lodge at the end of Mt Holdsworth Road end we had a pleasant three-hour walk, past Atiwhakatu Hut, and up Raingauge Spur to Jumbo Hut. The track to Atiwhakatu is particularly well maintained, and is also in good condition up to Jumbo.

The next day, with the weather changeable and cloud swirling around the tops, we began by climbing to Jumbo, but instead of continuing on to Holdsworth, as one would if walking the Holdsworth Jumbo circuit, we turned off and followed the ridgeline to Angle Knob. There is a light track along this ridge as it is a popular side trip on the Holdsworth Jumbo Circuit.

With the clag swooping in and out, we used map and compass from Angle Knob to be sure we were taking the spur in the right direction for McGregor. We headed northwards where the ridge flattened out and a number of rocky outcrops appeared through the mist, giving the area a moonscape-feel.

Not far along this ridge is a wooden sign pointing towards McGregor Bivvy. We followed a lightly marked track, and just as we hit the bush line, we saw the bright orange biv. The biv is very small and a little damp and mouldy, but it had a great outdoor space with good views, a fire area, plenty of seating and even a clothesline. The hut book shows that the biv has sheltered many a weary tramper from storms. It is on the way to some interesting huts deeper into the range, such as Nicholls, Dorset Ridge and Carkeek.

We had lunch and then retraced our steps back to Jumbo.

Jumbo was bathed in afternoon sun; we played cards outside and chatted with numerous trampers passing through on day trips or arriving to stay the night – and eventually fill the hut.

The following day, we walked to the road end by lunch time.

Sarah Miller