Kaimai-Mamaku Conservation Park

1-3 June 2024. ( King’s Birthday Weekend)

 It was an uneventful drive from Hawke’s Bay to Te Tuhi Road, via Taupo and Matamata, turning onto Tower Road then the Old Te Aroha Road, arriving about 10.30am. Cool overcast conditions greeted us as we wandered up the gravel road, past the cowshed, over a couple of stiles and along a slippery track down to the stream and the start of the forest and a steep ascent. Had a short snack stop before reaching the turnoff to Mangamaku Hut and wandered along admiring the rainforest – mainly tawa with the odd podocarp.

Soon we had reached a large clearing where the North-South track dissects the Te Tuhi track, turning right and an hour later we reached Te Whare Okioki Hut nestled in a grassy clearing with two compostable toilets with own water tank and outside sink. A boardwalk connects the toilets to the hut, with a large outside BBQ table nearby. There is a semi enclosed verandah with two tables joined together, a stainless steel bench, lighting and four covered bins which would normally be used to store wood. Inside two platform bunks sleeping twelve, stainless bench, free standing log fire and again lighting provided by the solar panels.   The hut was full with our party of 5, a family group (5) in to celebrate Mum’s 44 th birthday and a couple of hunters. It took us just over four hours to walk in. 

Sunday morning we set off at about 8.00am with Kurt, Simon, Jude and Susan (who accompanied us to the North South Junction track and then wandered along the Ngamarama track for 40 minutes before returning to the hut).  The weather was misty and fairly drizzly throughout the day.  I guess classic Kaimais as the forecast was for a clear day!  We were making our way to Wairere Falls which is the highest waterfall in the North Island.   Unfortunately we couldn’t see much when we got there because of the misty weather.  On a beautiful day I can imagine this being absolutely fantastic as there is a viewing platform at the top of the waterfall which provides views of the Wairere Falls and the Waikato valley.  

The track is a well marked track but in spots was quite muddy and you had to watch out for the tree roots.  After seeing the falls we started back.  Thankfully we were able to eat lunch with Simon getting out and setting up his tarp to keep us dry.  Although once we stopped for lunch we realized how cold the day actually was so it was quite good to get moving again.  However a brilliant day out.  We got back about 4.30pm so about 8 hours return trip.  After lunch Anne and Susan had collected wood to dry in the woodshed for next year- they had done a good job. All together again  we settled in, cooked dinner and then watched Jack(12yrs) get excited about catching a possum outside the hut.  

Monday saw us heading south, initially on a flat track, then we struck a BOGGY area – our leader sunk up to mid calf and only just managed to extract her leg, thankfully not falling into the gooey mud. After about three quarters of an hour, we left the swampy terrain behind and began the climb,at the beginning quite steep with tree roots offering good handholds, then eased somewhat, although still climbing up. It took us two hours to reach Mangamaku Hut which has two bunks, open fireplace, opposite were two bins which one could use as a bed although sleeping mats would need to be used. The wood shed was fairly empty and with some damp timber inside- my thoughts it would be a very cold place to stay..

 The track meandered up and down, crossing many watercourses as we headed back towards the Te Tuhi track . It was very slippery underfoot, with light drizzle and mist shrouding the forest and most slipped and slid, with an occasional crawl under a fallen tree. Soon we began our descent down to the stream, rocked hopped across and returned across the paddocks- finally! Kurt slid and sat on his bottom whilst trying to video Jude and I – Karma. Travelled back into Matamata, lunching at one of the cafes before heading for home. A lot of traffic on the road and our thanks to Simon for all the driving over the weekend, a total of 8 hours.

 Party: Kurt F, Simon W, Jude H, Anne D and Susan L

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