Ruahine Corner Hut and Colenso Hut

4th – 6th March 2022

A party of seven in two 4WD vehicles left from Fern Hill Friday afternoon travelling over the Napier-Taihape road. Approximately 2 hours later we were at the starting point having driven through the Otupae station and part of the Mangaohane staion to the boundary of Aorangi Awarua Trust owned land.    Just prior to reaching our starting point we meet a stockman wearing a bright  green canvas shirt enjoying the view. He’s with a horse and a pack of dogs  about 10km’s from the station settlement on top of one of the higher hills. 

For about 2 1/2 hours we walk 7 km over a rough farm track that goes up and  over a prominent ridge. It’s from this point we get good views all round.  The landscape changes from grassed hill country to one of tussock grassland.  One also see’s rocky outcrops/bluffs, the northern Ruahines, Mt. Ruaphehu and  somewhere in the distance out of sight to the south where the tussock meets  the bush is the Ruahine Corner hut. The track gradually narrows to single file track crossing a little used airstrip with a torn orange windsock and a couple of  large stacks of pest traps. There not far away is the Ruahine Corner Hut in a tussock basin.

This last part of the track skirts a couple of sink holes/dolines/tomo’s.  Our party spends the night at this north facing 6 bunk hut with a verandah  around two sides. For some of us this is new territory. Some have come in  the same way before, others have come in from the east over the Ruahines.  The weather for the weekend remains fine, sunny with not a lot of wind. Daytime temperatures in the mid teens.

On Saturday 6 of the party travel onto the Colenso Hut with one  remaining at the Ruahine Corner Hut for our return  on Sunday toretrace our route back to the vehicles.  From the Ruahine Corner hut the track soon enters the bush, circling around  slightly to the south, gradually climbing a ridge that narrows, has steep  sides and very large vertical rocks that one walks beside or between.  The high point we come to is Potae Peak. Again great views all round. We can see to the north the general direction from where our tramp began. Even the peak of Mt. Ngauruhoe is visible from here. A great vantage point  to take a break and consider the very steep descent down to streams and rivers that take us to the Colenso Hut.

 During the descent 4 pest traps with dead  rats are passed.   4 1/2 hours on from Ruahine Corner Hut we arrive at the Colenso Hut set above a lupin filled riverbed. There’s been a large log jam to negotiate and even a deep  stretch of water for one of our party to cool off in. The Colenso Hut is a freshly painted 8 bunk hut, good natural light inside,  with a small verandah and a new wood shed overlooking the river.  Not far away from the hut, perhaps 7 mins, is the beautiful Lake Colenso with  no natural outflow set amongst large native trees and large rocky bluffs  behind it. The afternoon is warm and sunny.  

 Sunday is the start of a long day, 6 1/2 hours of retracing our steps all the  way back to our vehicles. Between Colenso Hut and Potae Peak two of our party  experienced unforseen incidents.   One accidentally falls along a river bed experiencing discomfort to a hip.  This requires some rest, pain relief and the carrying of their pack for a  while.   

The other incident involved the ground giving way on very narrow track 7m up  above a rocky creek bed. This member of our party slid down the bank and was stopped 3m above creek by a tree the thickness of one’s thumb. Fortunately other members were able to assist this person, remove their pack and extract them.  But it was a very precarious location, slippery, virtually nothing to hang onto or step on for both rescued and rescuer. The location of this incident was  under the tree canopy and a long way from any open space. The rescued member  had a beacon on their shoulder strap of their pack.   Continuing backup the steep ridge to Potae Peak it caused us all to think  ‘what if …’ 

 After a break at the top of Potae Peak it was a cautious walk down narrow  sections of the ridge and back to Ruahine Corner Hut. The member who had remained at the Ruahine Corner hut had explored around the tussock basin close by.  After a good break and regroup our party of 7 walked back out to the vehicles the same way we had come in.   No other tramping parties were seen on the tracks or at either of the huts.  Once back at the vehicles an alternative farm track was taken through 10km of the Mangaohane station to the Mangaohane Road and back out to the  Napier-Taihape Rd.  All members arrived back home early evening, Sunday night.        

Party: John M, Eddie H, Sandy S, Paula K, Murry A, Simon W, Anne C.     

Return to 2022 Trips