Labour Weekend Trip - Friday 23 October 2015 to Monday 26 October 2015 (4 days)

Because of heavy rain on Friday night, all groups set off from the Desert Road along the Kaimanawa Park Walkway, the medium group reversing their trip.

The weather improved to the odd shower on Saturday and then fine for the rest of the weekend. Sue Grant led Kay Willcocks and me (Liz Ware) on the easy trip after we persuaded Gareth Facer he would enjoy his weekend more with the fit trip - which indeed he did.

We were looking forward to a cruisy time - "not to worry - it’s a Walkway so will be mainly flat" said Kay as we set off and soon started seriously climbing up a rather muddy 4wd track. It was mainly open tussock country but we did pass through two pleasant areas of forest and sidled high above a stream with many gullies to cross.

Photo : Terry Chubb

Seven and a half hours later and a total of 900m of ascent we saw our destination the Moawhango River in the distance and thankfully negotiated the long descent to find the medium party already camped and also the fit party a short distance away. They were surprised to see us, thinking we would have camped earlier.

On Sunday, after scraping the frost off our tents and enjoying the early sun, we were all away by 8am. We three "easy girls" retraced our steps westwards, climbing past point 1433 then turned north along a ridge and a sharp ascent to point 1474. A cold southerly made us put jackets on but it was beautifully clear and sunny with views of all the snowy mountains. We had an easy walk along a flat open ridge, past points1467, 1505 & 1493 to the Needles at 1526.

This is a magic place with glorious views of Lake Taupo, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. Reluctantly we had to make our descent south-westwards down an easy ridge until we came to a small side stream which we followed for about an hour until it met the Waipahihi Stream. We turned west and followed the stream for about twenty minutes and found a campsite on the south side. This was another seven and a half hours but we started earlier and it was good to have time to relax in the sun and reflect on a great days tramping.

On Monday morning we again scraped frost off the tents and set off up the steep slope behind us to navigate our way across country to intersect the Walkway again. Sue did a great job with map and compass and we didn’t get "geographically challenged" once! The terrain was pretty rough in places and needed frequent checking but really not too difficult.

We were back at the bus for a late lunch at 1pm then drove down Waipakihi Road to pick up the other parties. They arrived about 2.30pm and we all enjoyed cake and juice to celebrate my 70th birthday - everyone having had a fabulous weekend.

Thanks girls for your lovely company and great leadership Sue.

Scribe: Liz Ware