Vets' (Long) Weekend Trip - Thursday 7 April 2011 to Tuesday 12 April 2011 (6 days)
We arrived at the Opal Hot Springs on Thursday afternoon, settled into comfortable accommodation and enjoyed the hot pools before happy hour. The trips planned were outlined for the next four days and the forecast was for fine weather.
The carpark had been enlarged, with new toilets and three large new bridges. The track had been updated and steps made for an easier climb to the Lookout. With rain the week before, the Falls were at their best and the sun’s rays touching the spray gave great photo opportunities. We reached the top and the viewing platform with farmland down below, but patches of mist and low cloud partially hid Pirongia, Maungatautari and beyond. We continued along the Wairere Stream and track and then along North Track which DOC had recently cleared, towards Aongatete. Considerable water had carried tree fronds, branches and debris high above stream level, giving an indication of how much rain had fallen. Along the track were patches of fungi and many blue Entoloma toadstools not often seen in such numbers. Back at the junction, we ate lunch, talked to the fantails and bellbirds and then returned to the bus and camp.
There were two groups of five. One group went to the top and the TV translator with views over the Waikato, the ranges and beyond. Since the Tui Mine tracks were closed by the on-going cleanup of contaminated mining hotspots, they retraced their steps to the bus.
The other group of five took Horsemans Track 10 minutes past Bald Spur. This was a very steep, narrow track down a gully, with good bush. We passed the interesting old Morgan’s Mine entrance, sites where late 1800s miner huts had been, dam debris, and pipes for the Te Aroha water supply, directly below where they exited and walked back to the bus.
We took the excellent longer track to the trig among huge tawa, rimu, rewarewa and typical New Zealand bush. There were a lot of fungi, puff balls and toadstools including Entoloma varieties: small white, red, green, yellow, grey and blue. With the two botanists, Pauline and Chris, it was heads down and cameras out. We eventually reached the trig where the viewing platform had been removed prior to rebuilding. No views! After lunch we returned down the steeper loop section track to the bus. All were very impressed with the magnificent and varied bush.
This was our shortest day as we had arranged to have dinner at the Matamata Club. The $15 Sunday-night special was roast beef with plenty of roast potatoes, kumara and pumpkin, a good range of vegetables, salads and a choice of three desserts - an excellent meal.
This had recently been cleared by DOC and volunteers. We met a group from Tauranga Wednesday Walkers clearing the section which they look after. There was cloud with a few spots of rain when we started at the Tuakopae Stream Bridge off Old Kaimai Road. It was muddy in places; we heard whiteheads calling and a few bellbirds as we climbed gently up to the North-South Track with a couple of small stream crossings. We spooked a stag which crashed through bush and across the track. He must have been staking out the area as the roar season was about to start.Lunch was eaten at the start of Northern Henderson Hauler Track in misty rain which cleared as we walked steadily down on the mostly wide, although slippery in places, old track with protruding sleepers. This took us to a farmer’s deer-fenced property at track end and a short walk along the road to the bus.
A good finish to four excellent tramping days, weather, facilities, hot pools and company. Special thanks to our Big Blue driver Bob Lawes.
Noel & Chris Ashton, Maureen Harris, Nancy Howard, Jeanette Howie, Bob & Pauline Lawes, Brian Lynch, Anne Stone, John (scribe) & Ann Simpson. Norah & Robert Peachman joined us each afternoon for happy hour.