Written by Janice Eland (first time tramper)

January 13 2019 Aongatete – Wairere Falls

Being my first long tramp, I was looking forward to the challenge but also looking forward to meeting new people. Both a success. What a great bunch of people. Mixed abilities and so welcoming to new comers.

Starting with a toilet run and can gladly say it was clean + a bonus of running water, the small things in life. The weather was cooler than the previous day so ideal tramping conditions.

First sign at Aongatete Loop track – 6 hours to Wairere falls. And we all set off in good spirits. Walking though the lovely bush with a slight incline, path way dry with only a few wet patches. We hit the first river crossing and we have a walker down, the lovely Jane takes a little dip, but the guys are to the rescue to assist. All good and we are off up a more steeper incline. After an hour in we have a sarnie (sandwich) and water break. The group stays together well, and we set a good pace. Walking along the riverside was just lovely and so peaceful walking though beauty of the bush. I was amazed that we didn’t see any other trampers but that’s the beauty of New Zealand.

Quick dip and a cooling of the feet at the next quick stop, what a spectacular dive from Ian. Nature at its best, such clear water surrounded by the bush.

We then begin the uphill, motivation is lunch and a nice view so onwards and upwards we go with Kathryn leading the way and Ian bringing up the rear. Bit of a climb but a good pace to make it comfortable. Few slippy bits and whoops we are a man down, good job Jane has a large bag to land on, she‘s a trooper and loves her tramping trips. We make it, a few tired legs but we are all in good spirits and ready for a feed. Having a lovely lunch and natter while taking in the views.

We then make our way through the bush with a bit more of an incline until we reach a nice long stretch to ease those legs off. Oh no we may have lost the driver, not at meeting point. Let’s have a break by the stream and leave a note. Moving on with only 20 minutes away from the falls we bump into our driver, Michiel, good we are not walking home.

Wow - now that’s a tall tree and a great picnic spot at the back of the falls (approx. 15 mins away)

We reach the top of the falls but not a lot of water as not so spectacular as I’ve seen before but still amazing views. Bit of a bite to eat and a snooze for Jane.

We start with the descent. Nice steady pace meeting lots of people on the way up. All looking forward to a dip at the bottom, bit of a muggy day so a cool swim will be appreciated. We stop at the viewing point for the falls, breathtaking! You can’t beat it.

Last leg and we pick up the pace to get to that cool water. Wow Wow Wow the water looks amazing. Tessa is the first in with no messing, quickly followed by Debbie. Me being a novice I need to take my boots off first. That felt amazing, what a great way to end a great walk with great company.

Written by Lorna

Waipakihi revisited

January 26-28 2019

The names Urchin Umakarikari and Waipakihi have always resonated with me so I was keen to visit this area. I first took the opportunity with the club in Feb 2017 where I experienced a hard and sometimes off-track experience, I think my trip report of the time even put some people off but not me - I was keen to return to the Kaimanawa.

The C group of 6 were dropped off on Saturday am at the bottom of the Umakarikari ridge and faced two hours hard slog with full packs thru humid hot bush – we all shed a few litres of sweat and were happy to get beyond the bushline and benefit from the breeze. Then we started to get the views – expansive across to the central mountains of the Tongariro National Park, traffic on the Desert Rd, Turangi and Tokaanu at the lake edge and Taupo, Tuahara and Wairakei steaming in the distance.

We had a few more rest spots on the high points of Sharp Cone which is distinctive as the name suggests and Umakarikari which could be overlooked – though there is a rock pile cairn to mark it. A bit more ridge walking and we knew we weren’t alone on this sunny day, there was at least one group behind us (the Waikato TC we suspected) and two hunters overtook us. It was a steep and rather ugly rocky rubbly scratchy scrub track down to cross a tributary of the Waipakihi river – and a lovely pool some of us returned to later for our wash, then only 10 minutes to the hut. We had made good time, the suggested Doc time had been 6-8 hrs so I was delighted to do it in 6.35. Fortuitously we got a bunk room just for us, awesome no wet packs to carry tomorrow, our packs would be heavy enough as we needed to carry extra water – there was none where we were going on the tops and we didn’t know if we would get down to the river to camp.

The late afternoon was spend talking to the diversity of trampers (some whom we already knew) and hunters who were making the most of good weather and a long weekend. In the evening thermals there were Three large birds (we assumed kaka) entertained us soaring in the evening thermals) – quite majestic. People keep arriving there were at least 40 people in and around the hut but it never seemed crowded as many were tenting and some arrived after we had headed to a restless sleep on the squeaky bunk mattresses. It seemed all routes to and from the hut were being utilized although we were the only ones going up into Middle Range the next day.

We were up early as were others and away in good time. We had to cross the Waipakihi straight away – most of us keep dry feet, and easily found the track into the bush and up the ridge – thanks to Kevin asking the hunters the night before. The day started rather cool and once we got to about 1500 mts we were in a mist – we couldn’t see the ridges and peaks we wanted so paused to check maps against the gps at least twice– in no way is it a straight forward track along the ridge towards Thunderbolt – there are at many side ridges that have tracks leading off – there are no poles or rock cairns. It would be easy to take a wrong spur and waste time on what was to be a long day. The mist wasn’t wet but with the strong breeze it cooled us all down and coats were needed.

Kevin keep us on track – but I foolishly thought I saw good ground trail to the right – how wrong I was, I lead the others into a hillside of hebes and long grasses, maybe I was reminiscing the trip of 2 years ago where we fought the vegetation for ages. We quickly corrected my mistake and summitted Thunderbolt for lunch at about 1240 – No mist now but still the strong breeze. Then it was the long undulating ridge towards Motutere, all along this ridge we had expansive 360 deg views including deep into the Kaweka and Ruahine ranges and the head waters of the Rangitekei River. Each time we stopped we discussed which peaks we were looking at – and then Kevin would share a story of when he had walked in that area.

With tiring legs, it seemed like the afternoon was going on for ever – but we made the collective decision to get off the tops and down to the cool of the river for a night camp spot. These seriously big hills have very steep downs and the trail was almost vertical in parts – we all enjoyed the cooling waters seeping into our boots and as we crossed the river, I told Kevin he had 7 minutes to find a campsite to come in under an 11-hr day – he did it - 10hrs 58.

In the late evening sun, we pitched tents, washed in the river, cooked dinner all the while swatting sand-flies who favoured Michaël over all of us. Then a welcome good sleep, deconstruct our camp site and splash down the river for about 20 mins to the start of climb to the Urchin passing what turned out to be the campsite of the B group. The climb up Urchin is unrelenting steep for tired legs but eventually eases – after a couple of breaks we rounded a corner to see Urchin and some trampers in the distance soon identified as our B group. Delighted to see them (they had the van key) we exchanged a few stories of the weekend and then all made our own pace down to the carpark – some faster than others – maybe too fast as Michaël hit a low branch and sustained a bloody head injury.

A welcome change of clothes- lunch in the carpark and off to Turangi for ice-creams or coffee – and of course some slept on the way home – deservedly so.

It was a great weekend – trip organisers did a great job with driving, planning the pick-ups, accommodation, dinner in the friendly Turangi RSA and organising two trips which resulted in eleven tired sun-weary trampers.

Lorna the slowest – but hey someone has to be.

Written by Debbie Barker; Participants Alan, Carl, Sharon, Sima, Kathy, Little Ted

 

This was my very first tramp with the club and I had the most wonderful, entertaining day. (Excuse my sequence of events, they may be a little muddled!)

The drive was a dream with Alan navigating the flash, new van, (setting unrealistic expectations for future journeys, I hear). The toilet at the car park sent shivers through me…and apparently that was above usual standard too (yikes). Little Ted showed off his perfect profile by posing on the walkway sign and then we were off. Once we got onto the track our smiles were firmly in place with the perfect combination of sunshine and a gently cooling breeze.

We walked past pale moss clusters that had a look of the seabed about them and the ground was pumicey and forgiving. I did flick quite a large amount of it into my boots which needing tipping out at water breaks. I particularly liked the walking near the river with the roar of water in the background, even when we couldn’t see it. A very manageable pace was set by my experienced fellow trampers, who checked in on me and made sure the going was not too tough. Soon the path followed the edge of the ravine and we looked down to see some lovely round cavities gouged into the flat rocks in the river.

The forest closed in around us and the damp, vegetation smell took us into that blissful place of native trees that somehow reminds you of childhood. The track was neither too long uphill or downhill but apparently doesn’t qualify to be called ‘undulating.’ I liked it, my legs didn’t get stuck in one motion or the other.

Little Ted was particularly relieved to have a morning tea break in what looked like a Hobbit’s camp. We gate-crashed low benches and a wee table that someone had placed by a ring of stones, ready for a fire. That set us up nicely for the rest of our walk and off we went. Kathy suddenly declared with outstretched arms “I believe I can fly” then promptly fell in a twisted heap on the ground…we’re not sure what was going on but it was noted that she was nibbling leaves all the way along the track…and she was giggling a lot…really, a lot.

The river reappeared and we walked closer to its banks. At some point we went over the swing bridge but my mind was too overwhelmed to remember which part of the walk that was on, we had all nibbled some leaves by this point, so draw your own conclusions (they said it was horopito, hmm). Another journey through the forest landed us at the Waihaha Hut and we stopped for lunch. It was a lovely clean place with a much nicer toilet in my opinion. Little Ted had a sleep on the bunk beds while we relaxed in the shade and Sharon scared the living daylights out of us recounting her exploits.

Our return trip flew by, we set a good pace and stopped to admire the odd flora and fauna. At one point the rest of the crew had me thinking that we were going to do a river crossing and I believed them. Cheeky lot. Sima misbehaved on the swing bridge, which wasn’t altogether surprising. We had the occasional water stop and did some yoga stretches in a clearing, usual practice I’m sure. We made it back to the van in 2 ½ hours and almost got blown over by gusts while we de-booted.

I had such a great day with fabulous people who really made me feel welcome. I recommend this as a perfect walk for newbies, surroundings were so interesting that the kms flew by.

I did learn a few important things too…

  1. Buy gaiters or wear long socks, carrying half the forest in your boots is inadvisable.
  2. Strange leaves make your tongue numb.
  3. Leave an extra bottle of water in the van, dehydration makes your numb tongue tingle.
  4. Always have Little Ted with you for photos, he looks good at any angle. (Thanks Carl).

Written by Brenda Peterson:

 

It was a wet, wintery and slightly chilly day when two van loads of chirpy trampers left Hamilton for a trip to explore McBrinns Track.

The foreboding grey skies meant we donned jackets from the start and set off on our journey. We passed an old disused quarry and followed the track with McBrinn’s Creek flowing off to our right. Some parts of the track were a little narrow and rocky requiring a bit of care to scramble across.

We ventured up a side track and viewed an old tin shack and then retuned to the main track.

The track evened out nicely as we continued on our way, stopping for a very welcomed morning tea to refuel.

There were a few concrete foundations and odd relics along the track before we reached the old amalgamation plant.  We saw a steam boiler, water tank and three big amalgamating pans among other bits and pieces. 

From here we climbed steeply up to a higher level on a slippery bank covered in vegetation. We went left at the top of the bank and explored another relic before retracing our steps and climbing up another level to view two mine shafts. One was totally accessible, and the other was just a very deep, dangerous looking hole.

We then came upon another large shaft that we could stand upright and walk into. There we are few cave wetas on the ceilings and walls that didn’t look at all disturbed by us visiting. Lucky we all had torches as there were some quite large openings in the ground that were unguarded!

A little further on we dropped down and crossed the creek a number of times - some of us getting wet feet, others were lucky (and clever enough) not to. We passed a stunning waterfall that was surrounded with beautiful, damp greenery.

The turning point of our tramp was a very interesting old wooden dam that was very picturesque and historical.

We returned to the van on the same track stopping to view a few more caves/mine shafts along the way.

The trip was finished off in style with two delicious cakes for afternoon tea… one very special one celebrating a birthday.

I truly enjoyed this trip so much, would have to say it’s been the highlight of my winter walking this year! Was a little bit of everything and the rain didn’t put a dampener on an awesome day out. Thanks so much to Lorna for leading us.

Brenda

 

Written by Sue Smart

 

 

The weekend of 18/19 August did not have a great weather forecast, but who can resist an overnight trip to Taranaki?

As usual a merry band of trampers enjoyed the pre tramp road trip with coffee and lunch stops and a lot of discussion about the varying weather forecasts before reaching the Dawson Falls Visitors Centre.

At this point in the day the rain was definitely with us and all waterproof layers and pack covers were pressed into service. We consulted with the resident ranger and headed out into the gentle rain that gave us beautiful glistening bush. The very best way to enjoy the outdoors.

It was an easy walk to the hut and soon we were enjoying the pleasures of a warm fire and hot drinks and snacks, with frequent trips outside to view the beautiful Mt. Taranaki as the afternoon cleared.

Before long it was time to get onto the important task of assembling our dinners. Everyone had something different and a few good tips were shared for next time.

After dinner we had the challenge of a quiz lead by Michiel and Anna. We did not have enough paper or pens to do it individually so we formed into two teams and what fun we had. The questions were quite difficult, but they were multichoice so there was an answer for everything. There was much competitiveness   and hilarity and we had to have 3 sessions and a sudden death play off to find the winning team. Prizes were pooled from Sunday’s snacks and shared out to the wining team.

Sunday dawned clear and bright with frost on the ground. A group of 5 had an early start to head back to the visitor center followed by a climb to Kapuni Lodge on the snowline. There was ice and quite a bit of slippery ground. We were fine for the uphill journey, but felt safer with crampons attached to our boots for the downhill journey on the ice.

The other group took a walk to the Stratford Plateau from the hut and returned to the visitor center by a different route than the one walked on Saturday.

Back at the visitor center the fine and frosty start had been replaced by cloud and we were all happy to call in at The Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge for hot drinks and tasty food. Next it was all into the van for the trip home, with a stop at Mokau mainly for curly fries to die for.

Another enjoyable weekend with big thanks to the trip leader Kathy and those who shared the driving to get us safely home.