View out from Dominie Hut
Image: Evan Greensides | Creative Commons
Note: please respect the rights of others to use the facilities and ensure all rubbish and foodstuffs are removed on departure.
The bivouac was built in 1968 by the NZ Forest Service. It is situated on the single-covered Makahu Spur heading up to the Kaweka J and at an altitude of 1480 metres is the highest bivouac in the park. The spur can experience strong to gale force northwest winds or very cold southerly changes that produce high levels of precipitation including snow over the winter months. The vegetation consists of hardy alpine plants – tussock, hebe and mountain daisy.
Dominie Bivouac is reached after an 80 minutes walk from the Makahu Saddle Carpark. The track heads up Makahu Spur and is well-defined.
Dominie Bivouac is ideal stop-over for a day or the start of an extended tramp.
From Dominie Bivouac, head up Makahu Spur to Kaweka J, the highest point in the Kaweka Forest Park (and in the Hawke's Bay) From Kaweka J, trampers can travel west to Back Ridge and down to Rocks Ahead (allow 3 hours from Back Ridge Hut to Rocks Ahead Hut). From Rocks Ahead trampers can either cross the Ngaruroro River to the “Manson Country” or climb up to Tira Lodge (Venison Tops). This takes trampers back across the Ballard Saddle to return via the main Kaweka Range to Makahu Saddle.
Experienced trampers can head north from Kaweka J to Middle Hill or Makino Huts via Whetu (1650 metres). Heading south will take trampers to the Napier-Taihape Road via Kiwi Saddle, Mackintosh Spur or The Rogue. Trampers can also try a circular trip by heading down over the Studholme saddle and the Mackintosh Spur, stopping over at the Mackintosh Hut. Trampers can then head north 5.8 km up the Matauria Ridge before travelling back to the Kaweka Roadend (approximately 3 hours).
Trampers are reminded that trips leaving the Kaweka J are via poled routes traversing open sub-alpine tops between 1300 to 1700 metres altitude – caution may be required during adverse weather conditions. Wind speeds exceeding 180 kmh are not uncommon over the main tops, along with extremely cold conditions at any time of the year.
NZTopo50 map sheet: BJ37
Grid/NZTM2000 coordinates: E1892758, N5646601