By achim, 26 April 2011The announced Easter tramp to the Ruahines changed temporarily to a camping trip (Corner-Creek camp site), then finally things didn't converge. That was very the moment, when the idea of the Easter tramp was born:
'Having no car, why just walk to the camp site?'
Between Wellington and the camp site are 'only' the Rimutaka Ranges. We could make it in one day each direction... To have some change, we chose different ways for going there and back:
Friday, April 22nd (600+800 m altitude)
- start early at 8:05 AM at Wellington train station and be at the tramping track at 8:53AM (Sunny Grove, Homedale, Wainuiomata).
- walk the Whakanui Track into the Orongorongo Valley,
- Mt Matthews Track and Mt Matthews,
- down to the coast the Mukamuka Stream Track,
- from there to the camp site
Saturday, April 23rd (900+600 m altitude):
- off-track to Joes Hut / Wharepapa Hut (short cut)
- Papatahi Crossing, Orongorongo Valley and Whakanui Track back
- 8:50PM bus from Homedale to Wellington
These are the facts, each day with about 20 km tramping and the weather was promising:
Stefan and I made it in time to the train station and took the replacement bus to Waterloo station and from there line 170 to Wainuiomata. After a small breakfast we started at 9 AM, ascending Whakanui track. We were very pleased to find the Orongorongo river quite low. Another 1.5 h of uphill walking brought us onto the grassy patches of Mt Matthews south saddle. We left our backpacks there and had a short visit on the top, enjoying the clouds around us and gazing from top on the the land slides north of us. Back at our backpacks, we've seen the clouds lifted from the tops - we were just an hour too early... non the less, from here we relaxed with views to the sea and Wellington Harbour.
The decent through Mukamuka Stream was wearisome, all the fresh and spiky gravel needs high attention. Now we look up and see the land slides from bottom while walking over the stones which once made up the mountains. It is impressive to see how that stream eats up the landscape around us, we are walking through the guts!
We were relived leaving that valley, now dashing through the (round) gravel at the coast. We find the camp site easily, it is full of Easter holiday campers, but there is enough space for us. While cooking/drinking wine we enjoy the waves crushing and the generator nearby humming.
We had an ample breakfast (yes, two Germans...) and starting the day with some kilometres metalled road to Wharepapa river. Once walking up the bluff at the coast line the landscape looks like peaceful (boring) dairy land. We took some farm tracks on the east side of the river, till we set the compass north and followed deer tracks for about 1.5km until we finally drop into the river bed and walked up to Wharepapa Hut (also Joe's Hut). It is mainly used by hunters (comments on goats, deer, and pigs dominate the hut book).
Papatahi track turned out to be a muddy steep track without roots! I've (Achim) expected a better track, so we had a cumbersome climb up and down wasn't much better. Once a tree trunk broke and fell with me three meters till the next bush caught me, lying on my back(pack) like a beetle. The upper part of the Orongorongo river was easy to go. We reached civilization again, finding 4WDs stuck and (mostly male) people flocking around them...
So we ran quite late: Short before sunset we reached the Whakanui track and decided to go the same way back as we came. We've missed the bus by minutes, giving us a enough time to cook a dinner: Otherwise it would be frustrating to put the beans back onto the kitchen shelf knowing that they we've carried them over the Rimutakas twice!
We've enjoyed that trip, muscles were not too sore. It was planed as two one-day-trips and not as one two-day-trip, that turned out to be quite a lot (a bit more than 20km per day).
Käsekuchen and dinner to fill up the fuel reserves & killed another bottle of red wine!