Easter Weekend Trip - Thursday 17 April 2014 to Tuesday 22 April 2014 (6 days)
Thursday - Big Blue arrived at the Top of the Bruce carpark in stormy windy weather. We just missed the peak winds half an hour earlier. Despite wearing his storm jacket and hood, Noel's glasses had been whipped off his face by the wind and disappeared into the air not to be seen again despite some searches by our group. Although the wind continued some of us made it in a relatively dry state to ATC Snowsports Lodge (aka Mem Hut) as the showers came in short sharp bursts.
Friday - clag all around Mem Hut, so we were driven down to Whakapapa Village and walked via Taranaki Falls to Saddle Cone and back. We were below the clouds and kept mostly dry despite threatening clouds and light showers at times.
Saturday - clag all around Mem Hut, so we were driven down to National Park. We stopped the bus after seemingly travelling much more than the expected 2km down a road to our track end. While Noel consulted the GPS our track end to Tepapakura (sp?) Falls was found 10m from the bus around a slight corner. Some of our party carried half buckets of gravel up the track to help track maintenance. We were below the clouds and kept mostly dry despite threatening clouds and light showers at times. Noel's memory of a mostly flat track was inaccurate but by the time we returned to the bus it had been level on average.
Sunday - clag all around Mem Hut, windier and wetter than ever, but 17 hardy souls we were driven down to Ohakune to walk the Old Coach Road to Horopito. The Old Coach Road was a beautiful track - now also a cycle track. The grade is gentle as befits a coach road and there was an excellent set of attractive and informative information boards along the track. An old curved railway viaduct high up on trestles was the highlight of the 4 viaducts we saw as well as the now disused tunnel from before the railway was realigned. Rain poured down just before we started the track and just after we finished, but we were below the clouds and kept mostly dry despite threatening clouds and light showers at times.
Monday - clag all around Mem Hut, windier and wetter than ever, so we were driven down to Whakapapa Village. We set out along the Whakapapaiti track then turned down the Mangahuia Track to the DOC campsite. Roy did find us our unlikely but promised lunch in the sun, but this time the weather caught up with us. It was our coldest and wettest day. The Mangahuia Track would be more aptly named the Mangahuia Stream. The main challenge was judging whether the continuous puddles were ankle or knee deep. Using another person in front as a dipstick is the safest strategy. The drying room was filled to capacity at night.
Tuesday - a brilliantly fine morning! We saw Ruapehu for the first time. The mountains were completely clear for all those trips Noel had planned. Unfortunately we were headed home.
Overall a great Easter trip. It was interesting to talk to Peter and Nancy who were there when Mem Hut was opened. Jean celebrated a birthday with a decadent tiramisu for everyone, Chris made a fruit cake as a birthday cake, Penny and Caroline brought Easter Eggs, Diana brought a 2 2 1 cake and there were hot cross buns, biscuits, chippies and more. All this was in addition to the stunning menu provided by Chris.
Special thanks go to Noel for his organisation and managing to find 4 great walks lower down the mountain with the inclement weather further up. Many like me had not done any of the walks before. Special thanks too to Chris for catering the week and answering innumerable queries and helping the cooks. Thank-you too to Keith and Murray for all the driving.
The survivors were: Noel & Chris Ashton, Roy Carlin, Mike Hare, Jim Hardy, Anne Stone, Jean Barton, Keith Ayton, Mike Heilbron, Penny & Murray Firth, Peter & Nancy Howard, Brenda Simpson, Liz & Phil ware, Anne Sanders, Caroline Mumford, Barbara Fish, Rob deJong, Barbara Tokley, Shirley Jones, Judy Haslett (thanks for the photos) and Diana Greig, Owen Sharpe, Cameron Sharpe and Nessie Sharpe who joined us at Mem Hut.