By Belle, 05 February 2007
Long weekend in the Tararuas
A stream of golden light stretched across the sky as we emerged from the bush. Our feet halted while we stared south. Where the sun had just been paraded a brilliant tail of ice and rock sparkling the setting sun’s light. We took a moment and marvelled at the beauty of a Friday night in the Tararuas.
I don’t know why but for some reason the thought tramping close to home for a long weekend has never seemed that appealing. Usually, it’s a scramble to get on the ferry to head down south or sitting in traffic while heading up to the northern sights.
However, on this occasion the Tararuas suited the Ben and mine’s needs (i.e. our tank’s severe lack of petrol). We were instantly rewarded by our choice. By 7:30 pm we were in Holdsworth car park changing out of work gears into stiff and unforgiving tramping boots.
Unbeknown to us, the comet shadowed us from above as we chased the light in the hope to get to Powell hut before dark. The fading light and trees kept it hidden as I meandered up the hill. To our surprise it greeted us as we came out of the bush line. It is one of those images that will stay with me. Mind you it will have to - the batteries were dead in the camera!
The clear skies stayed with us the next day as we headed across the tops to Mid-Waiohine hut. Mt Holdsworth gave us iconic views of the ranges. Although, the cloud from the East lay crouching on the range above the Maungahuka, like a cat ready to engulf us at any moment.
The climb up from Mid-Waiohine attacked all the muscles that didn’t get pounded on the steep decent down. We chose to climb the ridge across the river from the hut as the track up to Aokaparangi adds a few hundred meters and hours. The 800 meter ascent proved bush bashy. My vanity got a battering as we hauled ourselves up through cutty grass and low trees. Thankfully, Ben’s navigating kept us on route and we hit the tree line as planned. Once out of the trees it was impossible not to hit the highway at the top of the ridge. The punters keep the track well trodden as they head to and from Maungahuka and Andersons.
It was great feeling not to be charging out to the road end on Sunday as we made our way to Junction Knob. The Sun Dew (NZ fly catcher), Vegetable Sheep, Edelweiss and Orchids put on a display of delicate beauty for us as we meandered along the tops.
We sheltered from the wind and drizzle at Nichols for a bite to eat. From there it was down the old track to Park Forks. The old blazes made the descent easier than planned and lunch was had beside the
The river level looked good despite the persistent drizzle. With the belief that we could get out the next day down the river we started climbing Carkeek ridge.
Now, Carkeek Hut one of VUWTC’s gems. It holds a lot of history and is a hut that every member should aim to get to. For some reason it has eluded me for nearly six years. This could be blamed on a combination of access, weather and laziness. The tracks there are no longer maintained by DoC (although, this adds to its appeal) and the
The walk up the ridge is just magic. The goblin forest begins almost instantly and the bird life is abundant. Surprisingly, the hut just crept up on us and we were greeted sooner than expected by its unassuming presence on the edge of the beech trees.
Usually, hut books hold little interest to me but Carkeek’s is the exception. DoC attempted to remove this vinyl covered artefact. However, this action received profuse objection from various members. Not surprisingly the book was promptly returned. Most of the entries are from VUWTC members (hunters are often too cool to write in books). In its pages club lore is passed on, memories of members tragically lost are honoured and traditions upheld. The hut is a real treasure and I will be back with a bottle of Exit-Mould shortly to deal to the fungus.
Monday from the start looked like it was going to be a long one. My finger traced the route along the map and my knees cringed at the thought of more ups and downs. However, it is not as bad as it looks.
McGregor spur is good travel bar the entry point at the base (after a few more slips it is going to be near impossible to get on to). Murky pea soup at the bush line meant we walked straight past McGregor Biv. Alas, my Hut Bagging urges failed me and I was not inspired to go back and look for it. Much to Ben’s horror I was not the least bit concerned that I had missed out on a bag. The clag and gale force winds continued as we headed towards Jumbo along the tops
Amusement turned to awkwardness as Ben and I watched an older couple get blasted by the wind. While we found enjoyment in jumping in the air getting tossed like feathers, it was obvious that this couple weren’t sharing in our hilarity.
As we reached Jumbo Hut the clouds cleared and we were privy to the beautiful day the Wairarapa was experiencing. The sun had a warming effect as we headed down to Atiwhakatu. I am sure Passes by thought we were impersonating cowboys (the usual stance adopted by those trying to deflect the curse of chaffage).
The amble out from Atiwhakatu is always pleasant after the steep ups and downs. Although for some reason, it just goes on and on and on – a bit like this trip report really.
Anywho, needless to say we demolished our falafel dinners at Café Instanbul in Carterton. Great weekend had by allJ.