LABOUR WEEKEND 22-25TH OCTOBER 2021
Friday morning just after sunrise, the van left Te Aute Road on its pilgrimage to Mount Taranaki with stops at Dannevirke and Lake Virginia in Wanganui for lunch. As we neared Taranaki, we caught glimpses of the three mountains in the Tongariro National Park. This was new territory for most and Anthea gave us a quick rundown on the history of the towns we drove through.
Arrived at the Mangorei Trailhead just after 1.00 pm and started along a couple of small stretches of tarseal before entering the bush – this track has boardwalks continuing all the way up to Pouakai Hut, a 2.5 hour tramp through montane forest. As we ascended,we met a steady stream of trampers plus a DOC working party on their way out. We had views over New Plymouth, Paritu Rock and the coast, arriving at the hut, 16 bunk $15 per person, which was fully booked. A small group went up onto the main Pouakai range and visited the tarn and took the obligatory photo shot, before we all regrouped and wandered back to the carpark. Forty minutes later we drove up the Egmont Road to the Visitors Centre, collected the bunkroom keys to the Camphouse, showered, ate and Susan talked about Saturday’s tramp.
Another clear, sunny day. Some had wandered outside to see a magnificent sunrise before setting off on the track to Holly Hut. We started ascending immediately from our accommodation on a well maintained track past the William Ambury Monument to reach the lookout about an hour later. We carried on past the turnoff to Tahurangi Lodge, heading right, past the Dieffenbach Cliffs, the track’s highest point, giving the group a great outlook back to New Plymouth and surrounding countryside. The track zigzagged around the gullies and 1km later we came to Boomerang Slip with warning signs on either side advising no stopping on this still moving landscape. Continuing on we came to the junction with the Korowai track on our right, which is an option if weather conditions are extreme, – soon we started descending , following a ridgeline down to the Ahukawakawa swamp, crossing Minarapa Stream to Holly Hut.
We spread ourselves through 2 bunkrooms and whilst having lunch other trampers filed in. Mid afternoon, we set off to Bells Falls (30 mtrs) on a undulating track and spent some time here soaking in this idyllic spot. If we have braved the cold water and wandered closer to the bottom of the falls, we would have been graced by the presence of a pair of whio. Back to Holly Hut and relaxing with a near full capacity of 28 trampers plus Elaine, the hut warden. In the early hours of Sunday morning the forecast rain began.
Elaine had checked Minarapa Stream and there was a steady low flow coming down, making the crossing very easy. As we walked out, we had steady light rain with fairly good visibility, everyone had wet weather gear on and we stayed together for the outward trip. As the day progressed, rain accumulated on the track and small waterfalls appeared. Unfortunately one of our party slipped on the wet terrain and on falling forward opened a wound above her left eye. Our medic covered this and she was able to continue, minus pack back out to the Visitors Centre.
We had intended to turn off, traverse the plateau to Maketawa Hut for Sunday night but the general consenus was to forgo this. We arrived back at the Camphouse about 1.00pm. Everyone, changed, showered, had afternoon tea, before 3 of us drove into a Medical Centre in New Plymouth to have the patient checked. Seen after 1.5 hours by the Triage nurse and then another 45 minutes before we were seen ( by this time were ready to have a G&T ! ) Finally out after 3hrs , did not want dehydrated food so stopped off for takeways.
Monday dawned wet so we cleaned up facilities and drove down to the centre. We viewed the displays and had morning tea in the cafe before departing home. We again stopped at Virginia Lake for a lunch break, fuelled at Waipukarau and was back at base to be greeted by Glenda around 5 PM. A good trip, new territory for most and our appreciation goes to Lex for driving and then tramping – what a hero.
Party: Lex S, Jude H, Simon W, Paula K, Janice L,; Susan L, Anthea C, Jo P, Anne D