Queens Birthday Weekend Trip - Friday 30 May 2014 to Monday 2 June 2014 (4 days)
5 different trip groups from both the Auckland Tramping Club and the Auckland Catholic Tramping Club boarded 2 buses for the Queen’s birthday weekend and headed down to the Wanganui area. There were 9 trampers doing Trip no. 3, walking from the Bridge to Nowhere to Whakahoro. We woke up in the bus early Saturday morning parked in Pipiriki, and a quick brekkie in the crisp morning air later, bags repacked, we walked down to the jet boat landing. A delay waiting for the jet boat gave me time to admire Rob’s red trail runners with their skull festooned boot covers. But soon enough we clambered aboard the jet boat and took a beautiful but frigid trip up the Wanganui.
Terry sat in the seat fully exposed to the icy wind hitting the rear of the boat. The glide past cliffs and river banks, whose velvety walls had an air of mystery hinting tales of yesteryear, helped take our minds off the wind chill. We walked from our drop off at Mangapurua Landing to the Bridge to Nowhere. The bizarre remnant of a settlement come and gone still spans the gorge in solitude, surviving as a testament to the struggle and fortitude of the early settlers. Ben, our jet boat pilot, put on tea, coffee and biscuits for us while we sat on the bridge listening to him describe the history of the area. We set off north east from the bridge, Rob in the lead, followed by the rest of us, Terry, John, Mary, Camilla, Justin, Karen, Diane and Jo. The day warmed up from the initial frosty start and under blue skies we were soon walking past old settler homesteads, almost fully reclaimed by the land with only the odd chimney or crumbling foundation left in meadows that were once cleared fields. Early afternoon, we stopped at Halliwell, a long expansive meadow to sit at a picnic table, and lunch in the warm sun. Next stop was Bettjemans with a planned meet up with Rob who had gone ahead. Rob resorted to trail mail leaving messages for us in the middle of the pathway that he had gone on to the next stop.
We continued on past Cody Bluffs, crumbling chalky cliffs, strikingly beautiful in the sunlight, walking along the late afternoon sun dappled pathway until we arrived at Johnston’s Camp at 4.45pm. We were just in time to pitch our tents in the fading daylight under a stand of pine trees. The temperature dipped once the sun disappeared and Jo suggested a fire but the wood was too damp to get started. John eventually got it going once we located some newspaper in the nearby hunter’s toilet and we spent a smoky but warm couple of hours around the fire before heading to bed for the night. Distance walked 16.4kms.
We awoke at 7.00am-ish to a misty and dewy morning on day 2 after a chilly night in the tents. Estimated that it was only a couple of degrees, and once a stand up breakfast was done we packed up our wet tents and headed out at 9.15am. Most of the mist soon burned off leaving just a few misty remnants in distant valleys. We walked on until we reached the trig at 11am. There we found trail mail from Rob conveniently left on the WWI memorial dedicated to the WWI soldiers who farmed the surrounding valleys. From the memorial was a crystal clear view over the land to Taranaki and her snowy peak clear cut against the blue sky. Some of us scrambled up the hill past a picnic table with a view to both Taranaki and Ngaurahoe, heading further up to the trig, only to find it overgrown with no view. Back on the trail we carried on, turning left at the trail intersection marked with a totem pole. We stopped for lunch, sitting down along the sides of the trail cushioned. We caught a glimpse of Ruapehu peeking above the trees. We eventually reached Mosley Camp a potential stop for the night and met up with Rob who had already pitched his tent. Most of us though found the cold narrow sloping site unappealing and elected to carry on. We walked on for another hour before we found a wide plateau like grassy hillside about 20 mins walk from the old Bagley farm. We had plenty of room to pitch our tents as well as the remains of 2 chimneys. One served as a table and the other Jo turned into our fireplace. After supper we congregated around the fire for 2-3 hours under a fabulous starry sky, discussing light weight gear and swapping stories of previous Club tramps and tales of traveling around Europe, Africa and South America. By 8.30pm all were in bed. Distance approx 16.9kms
After another chilly night (maybe -1 or 0) we woke to early morning frost on the tents. The mixture of frost, heavy dew and misty hills surrounding us soaked everything and our tents stood out again the wispy mist. We were Trampers in the Mist! We had our last breakfast and coffee on the trail at our chimney table before leaving at 9.20am. The morning tuned into a glistening display of shiny twigs, branches and grasses and bejeweled spider webs once the sun broke through the mist. We walked over an ingenuous double bridge where the new bridge built snuggled into the lap of the old bridge. Otherwise it was a very muddy but easy 5 km walk to the Whakahoro end of the trail. We arrived at 10.50am, and after coffee, tea and smoothies for some, most of us were relaxing on the deck outside the Blue Duck café, with our tents draped over the nearby fence line to dry in the sun - while we waited for the bus. How fortunate we were to experience the beautiful rugged Wanganui area landscape and it’s settler history during the best kind of winter’s weather with clear blue skies and cold frosty nights - what a way to enjoy our gorgeous land.
Distance travelled 40.7kms in 2.5 days in mostly good clear winter weather.
Trip 3 party was Jo Lowe, Terry Chubb (leader), Dianne Denman, Karen Doughty, Justin Lee, Mary Sokolic (teller & picture taker), John Tracey, Rob McKay, Camilla Dunand.