Near Debauchery at Te Rereatukahia Hut, Kaimai Ranges

Weekend Trip - Friday 17th to Sunday 19th July 2009

Muddy exploits in the Kaimai Ranges

Ten hardy ATCers took off from Sandringham on a cold wet night. A potential incident 30km from Paeroa was averted, and we arrived at Thompsons Track road end mid-evening to find the entire carpark a massive puddle. It was ‘drive to your mud spot’ before resting up and enduring a night of wind and pouring rain.

With some trepidation, we emerged in the morning to discover that, strangely, the mud was still mud, and present in vast quantities! Undaunted, the medium party sped off along the Mt Eliza Track, finding the river easy to cross and the track surprisingly dry for the amount of rain that had fallen. The sloths drove (not walked) round to Hot Springs Rd, to start their ascent along the planned route with lunch at Te Rereatukahia Hut, then overnighting at Motutapere Hut. Ha ha! The best laid plans of mice and trampers!

The tops provided glimpses of views either side of this very narrow range, but we were mostly engulfed in thick cloud. We reached Motutapere Hut for an early lunch - it’s a three-bunk cutie with plenty of room for more people if you share. Relatively well maintained and clean … except for vast quantities of empty beer and wine bottles. Bloody drinkers, we thought! We pushed on northwards to the ladder sections: two shorter wooden ones and a longer metal ladder, all with multiple fixed points and handrails. The trickier bits were the approaching steps which were extremely slippery half-rounds. All three of us slipped at various times, but it still wasn’t as bad as I had expected (far fewer deep boggy bits!).

Onward-ho! Expecting to meet the easy party heading our way, we tramped a steady 12 km towards Te Rereatukahia Hut without encountering our wayward companions. Arriving after some seven hours, who should we meet, feet up and well ensconced since lunchtime?? Oh yes, the easy party claiming, ‘This looked like a comfy hut and, well, we did take four hours to get here, and the weather’s not so good, and some of us feel a bit tired, and, well, we decided to stay …’

Pikers!! thought the real trampers. The hut was now nearly full with both ATC parties. (Certainly no one else was mad enough to venture out in such conditions.) We had early teas, and then the fun started. Only 10 in the combined party, but seven varieties of alcohol appeared: Brandy, Cointreau, Port, Drambuie, and three bottles of white wine. (So where was my favourite red?) Sadly, two of these bottles were actually bottles, and carried in by the slowest members - and glass being heavy and prone to break, a certain committee member was firm in expression of disapproval. However, in an admirable display of resourcefulness and consensus, to say nothing of avoidance of further censure, the party unanimously concluded that weight should be dramatically reduced forthwith by means of immediate consumption. So concluding, we partook with gusto, in the true spirit of cooperation held dear by ATC (with emphasis on the ‘spirit’, that is). At one stage I even found one of Graeme’s jokes funny! (And he swears he never told one??) Even the aforementioned committee member was observed to have a wee tipple.
The near debauchery, however, turned into no debauchery at all as we were tucked up asleep by 8.00pm. (But why was the easy party so tired, we still wonder?) It poured, it blew, the hut shook and rattled, but ten tiddly, I mean happy, people slept on.

Next morning we were refreshed and invigorated with no discernible side effects (it’s true!). The wind was still very strong and we all took the 2-hr direct descent to the bus, virtuously taking not only our own empties, but all the others as well. Such a hard day’s tramp! To enable the easy party to recover fully from their arduous journey, we stopped at the Karangahake Café for an hour’s gourmet lunch, before wending our weary way homeward.

We were: Medium: Terry Chubb, Graeme Pollock, Carol Exton (unbiased scribe); Easy: Ian Roberts, Liz Ware, Keith Ayton, Peter Thompson, Rachel Percival, Sarah Bryson, Junet van Schalkwyk.