Northern Kaimanawas – December 2019 - Medium 2
By Lynda Going
We were one of the medium groups – Louise, Lynda and Lynda, Dennis, Rudy, Hazel and Tony.
We made good time going south on Friday night, despite the diversion due to Atiamuri bridge being closed. Lovely weather, still and balmy, great for the usual crew who like to set up camp. Everyone was awake on arrival at the Te Iringa campsite anyway, from the bumpy ride into the forest.
Most of us were up and about by 6am, keen to enjoy the pretty camping area. Of course the fit group were off by 7, the two medium groups left about 7.40. A rough bus ride again for our group, from the Te Iringa campsite around to Poronui station to start our walk. Only 3 of us in the back, bumping along, why on earth didn’t we think to hop in the comfy big car with Dennis! Wasted opportunity.
Plenty of safe parking at Poronui station, quite busy with the helicopters at work. Was really nice to start the day walking along the flat, warming our muscles/joints up without any stress, being able to look around and chat. Nice change from huffing up a hill to begin.
We enjoyed the open views up the valley, walking along the flat plateau, past the station buildings, the curious young stock, and the even more curious names on the signposts. The Poronui lodge was nestled in behind some trees – wow. We slowly got nearer the forested hills, after Poronui hut we rounded the corner and into the first part of the beech forest. A few minutes later we needed to cross river flats to get to Oamaru Hut. Some trusted their balance to walk fearlessly across a downed tree, but cautious sore knee people chose the wet option.
At Oamaru Hut we had lunch on the deck looking out over the valley. Unfortunately we did spoil the peace for a young hunter enjoying his solitude. But too bad, we enjoyed his company while we ate and relaxed there. We did make up for it by warning him there were 9 from our club coming to stay at the hut that night, he decided to head up the valley instead. Packing up and setting off it started to rain, but not for long, and the rest of the day was fine and warm. We were now in the forest, and of course it was beautiful, beech trees above, moss covering everything else, meandering along the Kaipo River, only gentle ups and downs. We came across a group of 3 using their dog to search for whio and forest pests. That was great, they said they appreciated Hazel’s intelligent questions, and we could’ve watched their dog for hours, so happy and energetic in his work.
An hour or so later we were at the swingbridge over the Kaipo River, heading north along the Te Iringa track. About 3.30pm we arrived at our spot for the night, an obviously well visited clearing by the stream, with a fireplace and log/seat, didn’t use the fire but it added to the camp aesthetics. Everyone had a flat spot for their tents, and the weather stayed fine for us so we really enjoyed being able to relax, lie on the soft beech leaves to do our yoga, go for strolls, eat, sip our cuppas & chat.
The expected rain arrived at 1am, quite heavy at times. I woke quite happy about the performance of my new tent, but maybe the rain covered the sound of my night visitors. Breakfast time wasn’t flash, reached into my pack (in vestibule under fly) to get my food out, to find the bags shredded and some food gone, the rest with holes in. Yuck. Obviously Em’s cookies were the favourites, or the easiest to get into! The empty packets were scattered across the campsite. The upside was that no holes were made in my pack or tent.
Anyway, was a damp packup in the morning, but at least the rain was now just light showers, and the moss was freshened up, looking plump and shiny lime green. We really enjoyed our walk out to Te Iringa campsite. After striding up the hill almost to the top of Te Iringa, we decided to take our time and enjoy this beautiful area. The track was a delight, softened by the beech leaves, but still plenty of spots where sidling round/over rocks and mini gorges made it interesting. The cloud drifting past the mountain cabbage trees was a ‘stop-and-stare’ sight, and the massive trunks of the older trees.
Back at Te Iringa campsite just after 12, where the other medium group was already waiting. We decided there was no need for another bumpy ride though, stayed at the campsite (and risked being caught out by the approaching storm) while they went to pick up the fit group. Was a bit ominous, the whole time the bus was gone we could hear the thunder booming, but by 2pm we were being picked up again. Perfect – the storm let loose after that.
Can’t sign off without saying a big thanks to Keith and Simon for sorting my car out. And also without saying how cool it was to have Tony and Hazel with us again.