Weekend Trip - Friday 25th to Sunday 27th April 2008

The description for this trip started off as Easy, but soon morphed into Easy-Medium in the Wanderlust. But should the word ‘easy’ in any form ever be associated with the Ruahines? I don’t think so!

Starting off from Kawhatau Base on Friday morning, things didn’t get off to a good start when I realised that first up on the agenda was a cableway. Happily for me it was out of commission, and with the water level low it was no problem to splash through the river instead, before we started our 2-hr climb to the bush-line. After a stretch along the still-ascending tops, it was then straight down to the valley floor, passing McKinnon Hut along the way. Not good for the knees; God bless Voltaren J. The last section to Crow Hut followed the river - what a novelty, flat ground! The swing-bridge to reach the newly-refurbished hut had no sides on it, so I took the ‘scenic’ route instead. At the end of a tiring 7-hr day we soon had dinner under way, and at an extremely early hour there wasn’t a sign of life in the hut.

Saturday started with a now-familiar climb up to the tops, this time 3 hrs. The first section out of the river was pretty gnarly, and a ladder or rope wouldn’t have gone astray. The last steep grunt to reach the summit was also a bit sheer in places, but the climb was soon consigned to a bad memory as we traversed along the gentle rolling tops of the Mokai Patea range. Absolutely fantastic stuff - just totally why I love tramping: wide open tussock ground, delicate alpine plants, picturesque tarns, panoramic views… After topping out at Colenso Trig, we descended a short way down to a fabulous spot near a tarn and after another 7-hr day set up camp for the night. Dinner was at a rest-home 4.30pm, and with a rising wind and the prospect of rain (which didn’t eventuate), at 6pm there was little movement outside the tents.

Sunday morning was a leisurely jaunt of less than 2 hrs down through the beech forest, before we arrived back at Kawhatau Base. And thus ended another successful tramping trip, and began a 9-hr journey back to Auckland.

We were: Diane Dowle (leader & scribe), Liz Ware, Keith Ayton, Jean Barton, David Cray, Sue Grant and Noel & Chris Ashton (Saturday only). A special thanks to Liz for letting me share her tent, and to David for not sharing our tent.