Weekend - Friday 16 November 2018 to Sunday 18 November 2018 (3 days)

by Lynda Langridge

If in doubt, turn left

By 7.30am Saturday, Andrew’s team of 7 were breakfasted, booted and ready to tramp - a whole half-hour before the scheduled 8am departure.

We were an eager bunch.

The Whirinaki Park didn’t let us down. Our keenness was rewarded by hours of walking through a forest of majestic, tall, straight native trees that stretched their leafy branches to the heavens; ferns with numerous fronds that reached out from, and draped down their trunks; lime-green moss that carpeted parts of the forest floor; and the occasional orchids bowing their heads to the sunlight.

Much of the first day was spent criss-crossing the Mangamate, Kakanui, Kaikaiti and Taumutu streams. The streams eventually led us to a track junction where we were faced with a dilemma - do we turn right, trudge uphill and do a circuitous route, past some caves, to the Upper Whirinaki Hut, adding another hour or so to our tramp, or do we turn left and stroll downhill to the Upper Whirinaki Hut which was basking in the sunshine just half-an-hour away.

After a lengthy, thoughtful debate (well, I’m sure the debate lasted at least half-a-minute) we turned left and soon reached the pleasant 9-bunk hut, nestled in its grassy surround and fringed by a bubbling stream. We had made the right decision.

Curiously, the hut attracted myriads of friendly orange-and-black patterned butterflies. They flitted about the veranda and they settled on us.

Someone in our party told me the hunters specifically came to this hut to tame the butterflies (but I don’t believe him).

The next morning, after we had all completed out back and knee exercises (thanks Chris), we shoved our dry, warm feet into our wet, cold socks, and even wetter, colder boots for a 7am departure.

This time the streams offered us views of families of whio (blue duck). The fluffy ducklings were particularly cute. Very special.

After six hours of pleasant tramping we were back at the bus, arriving just 20 minutes after Ian’s group had arrived. Perfect timing to a perfect weekend.

Thanks for your wonderful company Uta, Christine, Chris, Dennis, Robin and Simon. And thanks for your great leadership and company Andrew (you know, we all think you were right to concede to the groups’ enthusiastic decision to turn left). And thank you to our stalwart bus drivers, Simon and Chris.

Photos - Christine, Lynda, Uta.