Weekend - Friday 9 May 2014 to Sunday 11 May 2014 (3 days)

Views to die for, brilliant autumn days, good company, beautiful bush and the mountain itself, Pirongia.

What wasn’t there to enjoy?

This ancient volcano is only 25 km south-west of Hamilton and rises from the surrounding farmland in a series of steep ridges.

As we only had 2 hours travelling in the bus to the Kaniwhaniwha Carpark at Te Pahu on Friday night we were up and heading up the Tahunanui Track, one of several access tracks, to the top by 8am Saturday with Liz Ware leading our Easy/Medium Group.

The first stop was at the Kaniwhaniwha Caves which were an interesting and muddy squeeze but well worth the short detour.

Then we started the steady grind to the top, lunching on a rocky outcrop before meeting the Tirohanga Track near the summit and continuing along to the Trig with its 360 degree views.

The stunning outlook included glimpses of Ruapehu and Taranaki and the harbours of Raglan, Aotea and Kawhia.

 

Our day’s walking was 5 hours and culminated with a leisurely perambulation, half of it on boardwalk along the ridge to Pahutea Hut. The old hut has been shifted slightly and there is an impressive new, yet to be finished, one on the site with a wide deck where we spent the remainder of the afternoon, and for 2 of us, the night.

 

There is also a helicopter pad (an amazing breakfast spot for some) and platforms for tents ,which we shared with Lee McKay’s medium group, who sprinted in 2 hours later at 4 pm having spent the day on the Tirohanga, Ruapane/Link and Mahaukura Tracks tramping up(and down) the mountain.

That made 12 of us bedded down at 952 metres above the lush Waikato farmlands with the temperature at 6 degrees and falling.

Even those of us outside had a comfortable night and we woke to a lovely sunrise.

Some started the day with a muddy 90 minute return scramble up "the cone", a nearby peak, before the 2 groups went their separate ways.

Lee’s group went along Tirohanga Track to Corcoran Road and the bus and our party descended via Hiwikiwi track and "Te Araroa" to West Pirongia Road.

Much of the track to Hiwikiwi Summit was on a high boardwalk, in some places 3 metres off the ground, Once on Hiwikiwi Summit we were treated to more wonderful, expansive views. Finding beautiful iridescent blue mushrooms along the way was another highlight and kept Ming busy snapping photos.

It was a divine day’s tramping and we reached the road end at 1.30 pm after only 4 hours on the track.

We then had a sunny wait for the bus and the medium party coming around from Corcoran Road.

An hour later they arrived and we continued the clockwise circumnavigation of Pirongia on tortuous West Pirongia Road, to collect the Fit party who had been doing an adventurous river bash along the Otangaoko Stream, led by Rob De Jong.

Fortunately we didn’t have to go back the same way (everyone would have been sick), instead joining up with the Kawhia Road and had a smooth trip on tarseal back to Pirongia, Hamilton and home.

All by 7pm. What an excellent trip! Handy and achievable.

Thanks Lee, our driver and the trip leaders.

Easy/Medium party was: Liz Ware, Anna and Ian Roberts, Ming Lo and Kay Willcocks (scribe)