Waipakahi Hut -Umukarikari Range (Kaimanawa)

27/28 August 2022.

Thanks to covid there were only four starters for the trip so we travelled in John’s ute, via the Taupo Road, leaving at 6am. We had boots on about 9.30 and on up the hill to the bushline. The day was
overcast, cool at just a few degrees so we took the opportunity of a lunch stop inside the bushline.
Once out on the ridge the wind came from the southeast, quite strongly at times with visibility a few
hundred metres at times so no views beyond where we were. At times in the patches of alpine
shrubs etc and coloured rocks there were some spectacular gardens. Winter seems to enhance the
colours of the shrubs.

Over half the distance of 13km was on the open exposed tops so it was a cool journey. Waipakahi hut was visible from the end of the ridge which lifted spirits and got us in the bush again and a tad warmer. There had been heavy rain two days before so the rivers were up but fortunately the branch we had to cross to the hut was the lesser and had large rock stepping stones that kept most boots dry. As there is only stunted Beech shrubs in the vicinity there is no firewood to be gathered and an inspection of the woodshelter revealed no wood. DoC had told me that firewood was to be delivered the next week ! By the time we had four cookers going, hot food and four bodies, the temperature in the common room rose to a degree or two yet our breath was steaming in front of us. By about 8pm we sloped off to the bunkrooms/freezers.

By the morning there was evidence of a severe frost with skating ice on the deck. Our time in was
7.5 hours so we departed earlier at 7.30 to get us home in good time, under clear skies with the sun
eventually trying to warm the day. Back on the tops was no warmer than Saturday and still a stiff
wind so we did not tarry. Views were anywhere you wanted so the cameras were clicking. Lunch
again at the end bushline and down to the carpark.

It is a reasonably grunty trip with the 3000’ climbs and 26k return, so it seemed most were happy to take their boots off. Time out was 7 hours as was more downhill. All but myself had not been in this area so was appreciated by Paula, Jo and Paul. After leaving the road end carpark we travelled down the Urchin Road into the area of Tree Trunk Gorge and the Pillars of Hercules for a quick look. For a change of scenery we returned via the Desert Road, Taihape and the Taihape Road arriving back at 6pm.

We had been lucky with the weather as in bad weather the Umukarikari Range is a no go.

Party—Paula K, Jo P, Paul D, John M.