Saturday 22nd May 2021
Smith Stream Hut
Originally, we were looking at doing a two-day tramp into Smith Stream Hut in the Ruahine Range, via the Hinerua Hut track, lower Smith Stream route on the Saturday 22nd May, and coming out the next day to the North Block Road end, DOC carpark. However, because of a range of circumstances, one of which was to take advantage of the improving weather forecast conditions for the Saturday, we ultimately decided to settle on a day trip for the Saturday 22nd May.
By combining two separate day trips, both of which started from the North Block Road DOC carparks, we were able to make it more inclusive for those not wishing to take on the more challenging tramp into Smith Stream Hut. The Smith Stream Hut party, was comprised of six people. They were, Kim, Colin, Murry, Simon, Greg, and Des. The other party, the Sunrise Hut party, included Lex, Janice, Vivian, and Anne.
Nine of us departed in the new club van, from Pukahu, at 06:00 hrs, and after a brief pre-arranged stop to pick up Murry at the Wakarara Rd gravel pit, we arrived at the North Block Road end, DOC carpark, at 07:30 hrs. With frost covered paddocks all around us, conditions were decidedly cool, so it was a quick change into our tramping gear for the six of us heading into Smith Stream Hut. We made good steady progress throughout the morning, reaching our destination at 11:20 hrs. After our early lunch break at the hut, and the obligatory photos were taken, we entered our passing thru in the hut log book, and headed back to the Waipawa River.
The route upstream from the hut has been improved slightly, since Des was last there in 2016 with several well positioned red track marker triangles on either side of the stream indicating recently cleared detour areas. Someone has done an excellent job bush whacking short sections of the stream bank. After several months of dry weather, we found the stream to be running at a very low level, and the short distance to be travelled in it wasn’t a problem. It only took us 30 mins each way but if you’re not super cautious it can still catch you out, several of us had some spectacular unplanned sit downs. We had our rain coats on briefly for some intermittent light rain that was forecast for 14:00 hrs. It was amazing how accurate the YR Weather forecast was for predicting the commencement of rain.
Our return tramp into Smith Stream Hut, which took us 7.5hrs, was a first trip for four of our party. It’s a great little spot, and everyone who did it, thought that it was well worth the effort.
After dropping of the Smith Stream party our party returned to the Sunrise carpark and had a cup of tea.At 8.30 am we set off for Sunrise Hut with a detour into Triplex Hut to show Vivian the hut. Although there was no one at the hut there were the sleeping bags of two trampers in the right hand bunkroom. At the northern end of the hut new water tank and stand have been installed.
Since the club was last on the Sunrise Track in late January (23-1-21) the track has been closed and upgraded. This work has taken out the rutted sections and provided better water runoff with many new drains and storm water pipes installed. New gravel has been added to the track and it certainly lives up to the D.O.C. description of a high quality walking track.
We stopped for a short rest to have a drink, a bite to eat and a removal of a layer of clothing at the seat by the track to the Waipawa River. From there we took 1 ½ hours to get to Sunrise Hut. There was no one at the hut, although we had passed two parties who had stayed there and a party who had stayed at the Waipawa Forks Hut. It was now time for an early lunch and a hot drink. We talked about lighting the fire and after about 30 minutes we decided that as there were some hot embers and we were not in a hurry to leave the hut we would rekindle the flame. This act was appreciated by groups that were to follow us.
A trip to Sunrise Hut is not complete without a climb up behind the hut to view the route to Armstrong Saddle. For the first time in my many visits there was very little wind so we walked along the track for about 10 minutes. There we decided that as there were 360 degree views of cloud it would be safer to go back to the hut and prepare for our return journey.
To complete the return journey we deviated around the Swamp track. This track has not had the upgrade of the Sunrise track and there were a number of wind falls to negotiate. A very large tree had been a recent windfall; fortunately it had fallen into the bush and not over the track.
Once back at the van it was decided to drive down the farm track to the wait for the Smiths Stream party. Oh those lads had been very swift in their tramp and were walking up the road to meet us. Thanks, Lex for stepping up at a moment’s notice to safely drive the van for us. It was much appreciated by everyone.
Party: Des S, Lex S, Greg S, Murry A, Simon W, Kim M, Colin J, Vivian X, Janice L, Anne D