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Tramping Trips - New Zealand, January 1997 to April 1998

Waiotauru River (and road), 26-27 April 1998.

The Tararua Forest Park has a great entry point in its southwest corner - Otaki Forks. This is the junction of the Otaki River flowing down through gorges to the north and the Waiotaura River coming up from the south. The Waiotaura valley was logged up until the early 1960's which means that most of the bush is second generation but there is still some great scenery. I spent an interesting day walking up the river on good tracks and logging roads before managing to walk right past the junction to Renata Hut and having to spend a night bivvied out beside the Waiotauru Road (a rough 4 wheel drive track). A niggle in the back of my left foot persuaded me to continue the downward trend to the Akatarawa Saddle and the proper road between Upper Hutt and Waikanae. I then walked most of the way into Waikanae, stopping at the Potters Kiln Cafe to have a nice cool drink and call a taxi. If you are going up this way then note that the Waiotauru Hut (marked as such on the new Parkmap and the older Infomap) was for several years relegated to a shelter and is now boarded up.

Northern Tongariro CircuitNorthern Tongariro Circuit, 4-9 April 1998.

In previous Easters, I had either wandered into the Tararuas or headed to the South Island. This year I decided to head north to the Tongariro National Park to experience the unique landscape surrounding its 3 volcanoes (Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro). The 5 days were spent:
Travelling north by train and shuttle service to Whakapapa Village on the slopes of Mt. Ruapehu and then following the rough track to Mangatepopo Hut for 3 hours (arriving at 7 pm in the dark).
A day trip from the hut, starting in breezy, overcast and damp conditions while I climbed up the valley to Mangatepopo Saddle and walked across the South Crater. When climbing up the far ridge of the crater the weather started to clear - there was still a stiff chilling breeze - and I emerged next to Red Crater where there were splendid views. There was not enough time to backtrack and take the steep climb up to Mt. Ngauruhoe so I took the easier climb to Mt. Tongariro before heading back to the hut.
I repeated the route of yesterday, hauling my heavy pack up to the saddle, across the crater and up to Red Crater in brilliant weather. It was nice to be finally able to see where I was going! The steep sandy descent into Central Crater was followed by the steeper rocky descent into the Oturere Valley. Luckily the last 4 kilometres to the next hut were through level, interesting landscape.
An easy day from Oturere Hut to Waihohonu Hut (signposted as 3 hours, I stretched it out to five hours) in more clear weather. The afternoon was spent visiting Ohonepango Springs and the historic Old Waihohonu Hut.
Today, the weather was as forecast: occasional showers and low clouds. There were few views as I sloshed my way towards Tama Saddle. After an hour I realised that if I hurried, I could get the midday bus to the train station rather than staying overnight in Whakapapa. The down-side would be missing out the Tama Lakes (not really an issue in the weather). So it was head down and pedal to the metal all the way up to, over and down from the saddle (4.5 hours to the village against the posted 5-6 hours).

Mangaone Walkway Mangaone Walkway, 28 February 1998.

I had meant to visit a couple of huts in the southern Tararua Ranges. However on the previous night I had been dropped at the wrong road-end and by the time I had walked around to the correct one it was too late to head up to the first hut. Thus I spent the evening walking along the roads to the beginning of the Mangaone Walkway but was lucky enough to get a lift for the last 2-3 kilometres. I bivvied out under the stars for a surprisingly good nights sleep. The Saturday was spent strolling along the walkway which passes through nice bush for an hour, crosses farmland for another half hour and then climbs over a tiny saddle on a farm road to the northern road-end (a leisurely 3 hours from the start). The gravel road was followed down an interesting narrow valley until tarmac was reached after 3 kilometres. Another 4 kilometres brought me to the village of Te Horo where I called for a taxi to the train station and made my way home.

Camping on ConeCamping on Cone, 6-8 February 1998.

The Waitangi Day weekend was spent walking up to Cone (1118 metres) and camping there in order to see the marvellous views from the summit. Typical overcast and windy Tararua weather meant staying an extra night (rather than tramping down to a hut) but the panoramas were worth the wait.

Mt AngelusMt. Angelus, 26-30 December 1997.

This 5 day trip in the Nelson Lakes National Park contained:
A nice hot afternoon climbing up the zigzags to Mt. Robert and ascending further to look over the skifield in the next basin before dropping down to Bushline Hut.
A wonderful tramp up and along the Robert Ridge with splendid views in all directions, varied terrain to cover (scree, boulders, rock, some tussock) and Mt. Angelus forming an ever more imposing magnet ahead. Arriving at Angelus Hut was a special moment with the huge hut (sleeps 40) dwarfed by Mt. and Lake Angelus.
The quickly changing weather meant a day spent in the hut looking out at the clouds and showers.
On the fourth day, I descended the very steep Cascade Track into the Travers Valley and Lakehead Hut. The snow showers at the beginning changed into banks of mist with a few patches of blue sky down in the valley.
A nice stroll back to St Arnaud along the lakeside.

Kaitoke to HoldsworthKaitoke to Holdsworth Road-end (Tararuas) 11-14 October 1997.

A nice walk from Kaitoke in the south of the Tararua Ranges to the Holdsworth road-end (halfway up the eastern side of the ranges. Taking two and a half days, this classic route crosses 3 low saddles (highest point at 760m) and follows two scenic river valleys.

The Tararua PeaksThe Tararua Peaks, 29 March to 2 April 1997.

The Tararua Peaks (Tuiti at 1325m and Tunui at 1310m) are the focus of many Tararua trampers dreams. Situated on the Main Range, their summits are separated by an airy 200 metres and a vertically sided gully. While the spire of Tunui is sidled, the sharp prow of Tuiti has to be climbed (or descended) with the aid of a 20 metre chain ladder. My choice of a route to conquer the peaks was:
From Otaki Forks to Waitewaewae Hut (an easy 6 hours).
A steep and tiring 1000m climb up to the Main Range at Junction Knob and then to Anderson Memorial Hut (8 hours walking plus a long lunch stop).
Another 9 hour day traversing the range across Kahiwiroa (1320m) and Aokaparangi (1354m) to reach Maungahuka and its hut in the clouds and a cold wind from the east,
After whizzing merrily down the wrong ridge (and wasting more than an hour), I finally bagged the peaks and proceeded over various bumps to Kime Hut (8 hours).
A day of downhill travel from Kime along the ridges to Field Hut and then down to Otaki Forks (5 hours).

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