Queens Birthday Weekend Trip - Friday 2 June 2017 to Monday 5 June 2017 (4 days)

As the plan was to only go as far as Otapukawa Hut the first day, we got under way fairly late. Travelling up Otapukawa Stream was lovely with forested steep hills pressing in quite closely at the stream banks. The hut however was a most cold, dilapidated structure and there was no incentive to spend the afternoon let alone the night there. It was 11.45 by this time and we decided to continue towards Sunday night’s destination and camp out, especially given that we could eliminate some of Sunday’s climb this way. We knew we needed to carry all the water we may need for the night as no streams originated close to the ridge. That all worked out well. It was very crisp but we had shelter from the gentle breeze near a private DOC/trapper/kiwi listening person’s hut. A pair of kiwi called very close in the night.

My word, the forest up on that ridge is astonishing. Giant red beech and rimu trees loom through the tawa and hinau canopy. The place is bristling with possum, rat and mustelid traps and because of this, fortunately the track clearers had been through just before us, dealing with numerous large windthrows. Without this we’d probably still be in there, scrambling under and over.

Koaunui Hut

Two local pig hunting boys, their horses, dogs, rifles, a dead pig and a dead longfin eel were packed up and almost ready to leave Koaunui Hut when we rocked in early on Sunday afternoon. After a chat, they surrounded everything in clouds of smoke and were looking a little like staying, but fortified, they then headed off. The hut caught the exquisite warm afternoon sun until it suddenly disappeared behind a forested ridge at 3 when we jumped around and prepared the fire. The scribe, not being au fait with firearms and such things, enthusiastically swept up a bullet shell with mess from the floor and deposited the lot in the fire. Athol who was quietly minding his own business in the hut 10 minutes later, received quite a fright.

What a clear, calm morning Monday was. The quite long haul back up the ridge to Tawai was east facing and deliciously warm and it was a pleasure to see giant red beech and rimu again. The rest of that day was along an undulating ridge with the rain holding off and a kokako singing beside the track. 3 flocks of riflemen were noticed in between eyes being on the ground and some huge vistas of surrounding blue forested hills; this made us feel more remote than we were.

At the end, another pair of locals "rescued" us from a 1.5km road walk by giving us a ride in amongst their pig dogs, rifles and knives and we loved it.

We were Athol Berry, Mark Bellingham and Sharen Graham (scribe).