January 14-15th 2023.
A 6.30am departure saw the van heading down SH2, turning off onto Wakarara Road heading for North Block Road and Triplex carpark. It was overcast and slightly cool as we commenced the Sunrise track with its many zigzags.
All stopped at the bench seat at the saddle for a jellybean snack before the hut maintenance crew of 5 departed down the Waipawa Forks track and my party of three continued on to Sunrise. We passed about 12 trampers leaving the hut and as we climbed there were intermittent views of the farmland below. We reached Sunrise after 3.5 hours and stopped for a bite of lunch.
As we stepped out behind the hut heading for Armstrong Saddle we had reasonable visibility, no wind – couldn’t see Waipawa Saddle in the distance as the mist came and went. Past the info sign about Hamish Armstrong and the tarn, ascending onto the ridgeline and came to DOC sign where we followed spur down. Initially it was an open rocky track, then into beech forest, very tree rooted and slippery due to the rainfall over the week
We arrived at Top Marapea hut after two hours travel from Sunrise. It is a historic hut built around 1958, four bunks, open fireplace, unlined, malthoid ceiling and a shelter protecting hut entrance. It is regularly used by both hunters and trampers and DOC should spend some money on maintenance. Some idiot had taken an axe to the toilet door which was lying on the ground, allowing the mould to grow inside. Thank you to those who had chopped up the firewood, which we didn’t need to use.
Carol from Waikanae turned up about 3.00pm and was relieved there was a spare bunk and we spent the rest of the day chatting, taking turns using the small stainless bench or outside to set up our cookers. About 6.30 pm steady light rain began to fall and this continued on to the early hours. Awoke and found weather had improved with views towards the north east. After cleaning up, we set forth up through the beech and onto the open spur, in misty conditions, visibility 3 warratahs which did not concern me.
Arrived at Sunrise to find only three slept there last night and when they departed, they had left food scraps in the outside sink and messy inside hut. As we descended, the mist disappeared and sunshine bathed the track, birdlife was out and about- cuckoo, robin, tomtit, grey warbler, waxeyes, chaffinch, kereru, whitehead and tui. We turned off to Triplex hut as Clint had not been there and chatted to a grandad and his two granddaughters who were staying overnight.
On reaching the van were very surprised to see the Waikamaka weekend party sitting on the grass as 4.00 pm was the return time. We stopped off for icecreams in Waipawa, and arrived at Pukahu around 4.30 pm.
Party: Susan L, Clint B, and Anne D.