Weekend Trip - Friday 1 July 2016 to Sunday 3 July 2016 (3 days) - Easy Group
A full bus plus a minivan of Western Springs College students and sundry cars arrived at the Lodge Friday afternoon and evening. The lawn in front of the lodge was white and the washing on the line rigid - the first frost of the year for most of us. Inside the lodge the wood burning stove struggled to heat the un-insulated lounge.
Saturday dawned bright and clear; one of those fine winter mornings that comes with a frost. We split into three groups; all groups going to Te Rere I Oturu falls but by different routes. Tony’s party left first ; the easy party departed at a more civilised hour and followed an old logging road to a DoC track sign, 4km south of the lodge. Time on the road was spent photographing frost crystals on ferns, leaves, rocks, bridge railings, and possum pooh.
We walked, we chatted, and stripped off clothing as the shaded areas of the road gave way to an open plateau. There was a signposted track from the road to the falls, well marked and took about 20 minutes to the Opuiaki river and the Te Rere I Ohuru Falls. The falls are very impressive, 42m high and 25m wide. To see them in flood would be exciting - flood debris caught in the shrubs at the foot of the falls was above head height. The rush of water over the falls created a spray cloud that stirred and drenched the toi toi on the left bank 20m downstream from the base of the falls. Out of the spray we soaked up the sun’s rays and ate an early lunch.
Trampers from the other groups arrived, some wet to their naughty bits from river crossings earlier that morning. The sun sank behind the trees so the easy party left the lunch spot and climbed up the steep galvanised steel ladder which put us on a level with the top of the falls. We followed the river bank for about 500m upstream; the river bottom here was flat interspersed with deepish holes. No more waterfalls to see; instead a couple of large riffles.
We turned south and tramped to the end of the logging road which we had left earlier in the day. Most of the group, which now included Dave, returned to the lodge and hot showers. Keith, Hazel, and Ian took a different route back following one of the tracks the other parties had used in the morning. While the hot showers were very welcome, the lounge was still a refrigerator - beanies and puffer jackets were the dress du jour.
Sunday morning was another frosty start. The easy group, now 12 with the addition of 3 students from WSC, ambled off to the Ngatuhoa falls about 30 minutes from the lodge. Ambling was the default speed for the day. The falls are two tiered and approx 40m high; the pool at the bottom of the falls makes a good swimming hole but not on a frosty morning!
We returned to the lodge so Anne could fill her thermos, then walked up the hill passing the abseil cliff to a sunny clearing which was the designated lunch spot. However, we were too early for sandwiches, so the bulk of the party returned to the lodge, the students flopped out in the sun and chatted while Anne, Sharon, Anna, and Ian continued along the track for another ½ hour to the junction with the track to Ngatuhoa stream . There we turned around to go back to the clearing for lunch, finding the students peacefully dozing in the warmth of the sun. We reluctantly quit the clearing after sandwiches and coffee to return to the lodge and clean up before the road home. It was a (rare) drive home in the daylight and the country was beautiful bathed in the low winter sun. A café stop at Matamata was welcome and a great end to a relaxing (if cold) weekend.
Easy party members were: Sharon, Anne, Athol, Erica, Keith, Jean, Hazel, Lynette, Dave, Anna and Ian (scribe) and from WSC Eloise, Candy, and Annabelle.