Easter Weekend Trip - Thursday 18 April 2019 to Monday 22 April 2019 (5 days)

Vicky's photos

Michelle's Photos

Trip report by Ian Roberts

18 trampers assembled at the club garage early Thursday afternoon for a 1pm departure with our destination being the track entrance for Sentry Box hut off Mangleton Rd approx 40km due west of Hastings. The early departure was set so as to avoid the Easter exodus from Auckland and proved partially successful as we arrived in Taupo by 5pm for a quick dinner stop. However, we were then delayed due to a malfunction of the truck's air suspension. Keith saved the day with a temporary repair using duct tape; it did the job and got us to our destination then back to Auckland. Moral - never travel without a roll of duct tape, it has over 101 uses.....

Tony’s group of 7 left the truck to sleep in Sentry Box hut and we thought that was the last we would see of them until Monday. Don’s 11 then became 12 with Carol’s arrival and we set off for Upper Makaroro hut via Park’s Peak hut.

Any spur in the Ruahines appears to be steep and the ones we encountered were no exception - 750m elevation gain over approx 2km that morning. The bonus for that was we added Selina and Joanne to our group- they had dropped off the back of Tony’s party. So 12 became 14.

Watching the billy boil - Vicky, Don, Michelle, Wendy, Carol, Joanne

Park’s Peak hut is located on the crest of the ridge that is the eastern side of the Makaroro river valley. A pleasant clearing surrounds the hut and this was bathed in sunshine for our lunchtime arrival. It was here that Keith initiated a mutiny and Don was cast adrift with his band of 8 loyalists to plunge into the depths of the river valley. Down and down we went losing all the hard earned elevation of the morning’s toil. To make matters worse the sun had left the valley floor and we were in shadow...woe.... Still, mustn't grumble. Ian lit a fire to cook his dinner on and the loyalists gathered around for warmth and company.

We spent two nights here and on Saturday climbed up to the tops via Totara Spur, fortunately the gradient of the spur was not as fierce as that of the previous day. Clear skies, Ruapehu views, and a cool wind were our rewards.

Kylie Biv

Once again the party split with 5 backtracking to a sheltered spot to enjoy the sun while Ian, Carol, Vicky, and Selina strode along the broad ridge for another 30 minutes then dropped down to Kylie Bivvy for lunch. The bivvy has superb views over the Hawkes Bay region and is unusual in that is it painted a duck egg blue (has DoC finally run out of ‘rescue orange’ paint?). It also has the unusual feature of an open air toilet (aka a ‘thunderbox’) - the loo with a view has no walls, making doing ones business a quick affair in bad weather as well as for the more bashful tramper...a large rock keeps the toilet lid down.

After a sunny lunch we retraced our steps back to Upper Makaroro hut catching a glimpse of Dennis’s party in the distance as they headed towards Sparrowhawk Bivvy.

Sunday saw a leisurely start before a grind up to Parks Peak hut. Stags were heard roaring and Michelle and some of the others saw a flock of whitehead. Despite it being Easter and the roar, we did not encounter any hunters all weekend. The hut was empty when the loyalists arrived as Keith had prudently led his mutinous crew away to Pitcairn Island aka Masters Shelter. Afternoon options include snoozing, chatting, and a sortie on the view point led by Wendy. The view point is between Parks Peak and Sentry Box huts and gives great views of Ruapehu, however the big attraction for Wendy was making the most of the bright red folding garden chair that occupied the site - we speculated on how the chair had come to be there......

The other oddity we found was the presence of red and white gingham curtains in Parks Peak hut; unusual but certainly an attractive addition to the hut. Carol left us to carry on back to Sentry Box hut and her car, so we were down to 8.

The long range weather forecast for the weekend had predicted rain arriving late Sunday and continuing into Monday. However, we were lucky as the rain held off until Monday morning but eased as we were returning to the bus. Tony's party were having a scroggin stop at the top of the track to Sentry Box hut when we arrived, so 8 became 13. Two hours later we were back at the truck to meet up with the mutineers. They begged forgiveness for their sins and were forgiven - that Keith was one of the drivers may have had something to do with it....

It was a great trip, excellent company, and the best of weather when we needed it.

Loyalists: Don Tate, Wendy Graham, Vicky King, Ian Roberts, Michelle Martin, Carol Exton, Selina Cai, Joanne Cochrane , Mike Champion

Mutineers: Keith Ayton, Rob Worley, Willi Williams, Rae Coppins, John Parsons