Sunday 14th March 2021
Te Iringa, which is a high point in the north-eastern Kaimanawa range, is 23 km east of Taupo on SH5 (Napier Taupo Road). On SH5 there is a yellow road sign to indicate Clement Access Road (formerly Taharua Road, it reverts to Taharua Road at the Clements Mill Road turn off). The 9.5 km journey along Clement Access Road to Clements Mill Road is asphalted. The track starts from the Te Iringa campsite car park which is 5 km along the Clements Mill Road on a narrow gravel road.
Te Iringa in the Kaimanawa Forest Park was the second Te Iringa the club had visited within the last six months. The other is on the Napier-Taihape Road.
The D.O.C. track sign advises that it is a 6-8 hour hike through to Oamaru Hut but we were not going that far. Our aim was to the site of the Te Iringa Hut. From the carpark at the Te Iringa campsite to the old Te Iringa Hut site the track climbs slowly up 330 metres. On the whole the track is well-defined but there were a couple of areas where there were wind fall across it. One of these areas required a clamber off track. We were not the first to have gone off track indicating that this damage had been there awhile. The forest is predominantly beech which gives the track a lovely soft base on which it is delightful to walk.
About half an hour before the old hut site there are views of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngaruhoe. At this time of year they are not as visible as in winter when they are covered in snow.
The slower party met the faster party, who had carried on the track a bit further before returning back, at the hut site for lunch. We enjoyed a leisurely stop at the hut site. Taking into account lunch, the trip up the track, chatting with a couple of hunters (who with their beautiful black Labrador stopped for a short break) and locating the burned piles of the hut we spent about an hour there. After lunch some more walked, without packs, for about 20 minutes uphill past the hut site. Once the track started to descend they turned back.
The return to the van is a mostly downhill walk by the same track we walked up and we observed views of Lake Taupo, a vista we had not noticed on the way in.
The track through to Oamaru hut is also a track shared with mountain bikers. There was little evidence of their presence in the park but we were not the only people on the track. As we went up we met two hunters and a runner (who had been up to the hut site) coming out. At the hut site another couple of hunters and their dog. All four hunters had been successful in their quest for venison.
We left the carpark at about 3.15. Little did we know that we would not make it home until 9.00 pm. As we rounded a gentle bend before the Rangitaiki School Road traffic was at a standstill and there were red and blue lights flashing in the distance. Shortly after a yellow rescue helicopter came in to land. After a while a long line of cars had turned around and headed back towards Taupo. The message we were given was that there would be a minimum of a 3 hour delay so we spent drove back a bit and spent our time walking around the Opepe Reserve. The Opepe Reserve is a delightful forested area and the walk was leisurely. One highlight for me was sighting a bell bird.
Once back in the van we had a short wait before we were able to continue over homeward journey but it was a relief to be on our way home
Party: Lex S, Barbara P, Glenda H, Simon W, Dale B, Carol C, Geraldine P, Vivani X, Anne D