By Jack Huygens, 02 July 2022
Jack, Kilian, Justin & Daisy
We set off for Kapakapanui on a stunningly sunny day in the middle of winter (thanks to Daisy for driving!) with the goal of heading up to Kapakapanui hut, plus a quick trip up on to the tops for some views.
This track involves a ton of river crossings (about 9) at the very start, so expect either wet boots right off the bat, or bring along an extra pair to swap out.
As anyone who's climbed up to Kapakapanui will know, the start is a real steep slog. Straight up the mountain with no mucking around!
It took us about 3.5hrs to climb up to the hut, at which point we quickly claimed beds and had a good rest. The carpark was packed to the brim, so getting a bunk in the hut was actually a surprise! Turns out most of those cars were just doing the loop in a day thanks to the excellent weather.
We ended up with 9 people packed into that hut (3 on the ground, 6 in bunks) which made for a great lively atmosphere and a warmer night's sleep that what I'm used to in my flat in Welly!
After some warm tea and snacks at the hut we continued on to have a look at the open tops of Kapakapanui and the stunning goblin forest the ridge is famous for. We certainly got our fair share of beautiful mossy forest, but the cloud was starting to set in while we were on the tops. It made for some pretty interesting views though, with the cloud changing constantly and the sunset shining through.
The cloud made for some pretty atmospheric scenes once we dropped below the bush line again, it would be a pretty freaky experience to get lost in this kind of forest!
On our way back down the sunset got more and more vibrant as we dropped below the clouds, and the golden light made for some stunning scenes in the mossy goblin forest.
It made for quite a magical experience, walking through the otherworldly trees with the colours of a classic high-altitude sunset lighting up the moss.
Gotta love the Tararuas!
As we neared the hut, we got one last view of Kapiti island through the trees before the sun fully set.
Our whole trip to the top (to the trig) and back took about 2.5hrs.
We arrived back in the hut to a pre-lit fire, thanks to the other hut members, and a warm cosy evening after a great day of tramping. I brought along a frozen home-made chickpea curry which I cooked up alongside some instant-rice, which sorted us all out for dinner.
Lots of stories were shared about hidden corners of the Tararuas, and scary climbs up Mt Taranaki. Plus lots of must-do tramping recommendations around the country.
Thanks to the cosy fire and such a busy hut, we had a very warm night and even a warm morning! (which was a very pleasant surprise).
We headed off back down the way we came, opting for the shorter option instead of heading up and over the tops again to complete the full loop. It was still quite cloudy, so there wouldn't have been any views on the tops anyway.
On our way down we passed the famous give-way road sign of Kapakapanui, which we almost thought had been removed since we missed it on the way up.
One plus-side to the cloudy weather is the beautiful god-rays shining through the forest!
After about 3.5hrs (same as on the way up!) we made it back to the car. Feeling thoroughly refreshed and invigorated by a weekend spent in the bush. On the way home we made sure to grab some pies & coffee in Johnsonville to get our energy back in check, then relaxed for the rest of the afternoon after a weekend well spent!
This was my first time hosting a trip with the VUWTC, and it was a ton of fun. We formed a great little tramping group and are all keen for some more trips into the bush in the future!
(from left to right: Daisy, Kilian, Justin, Jack)