The plan was to spend the weekend in the Ruahines but given the adverse weather conditions we reconsidered it and opted for a closer tramp to the Tararuas. Yes, the Tararuas are not known for their best weather conditions during winter, especially when it is raining, but since shoes and gear were already packed, we all decided to go and face nature! There was no point in camping on Friday night due to heavy rain so we decided to leave on Saturday morning. The new plan was to leave not too late on Saturday morning and drive to Kiriwhakapapa campsite. From there walk up to Blue Range Hut (estimated 2 hours from the car park), have a nice lunch in the hut (and not outside under the rain) and then continue up to Cow Creek hut (estimated 3 hours from Blue Range hut).
We were two groups of six, one easy and one more experienced group. The main advantage of leaving Saturday morning was to escape camping under the rain, but the main drawback was that we started walking at 11:00 am, which is quite late for an estimated 5 hour tramp. We, the “easy group”, quickly lost sight of the more experienced, but there was no trouble as this was the whole purpose of having two groups. And then for the next 2 hours 40 minutes it was rain, and rain, and rain…. We even didn’t stop for any nibble or picture; there was no point in getting the camera out. This is at that moment that you realise that your rain jacket, however good it is, will test its limits, and water will finally go through everything…
When we arrived at Blue Range hut, it was already 1:40 pm, so instead of 2 hours, it took us 2 hours and 40 minutes. The most experience group had arrived 40 minutes earlier and already eaten their lunch. At that moment we had two options available: have a 15 minute break and then continue to Cow Creek, or stay in the Blue Range Hut. The first option had the risk of being caught by the night (especially because it was the winter equinox), continue walking under the rain and then manage 12 people in a 6-bed hut. The second option was not only safer, but also solved the problem of sleeping. Camping was really not an option given the rain. So we choose the second option.
Because it was quite early in the afternoon, we took time for lunch, dry clothes but also cut wood for the fire (especially Richard who spent 2 hours cutting wood, making a good stock for the next ones). The Blue Range hut is only a 4-bed hut, but it is well equipped and has a nice fire place.
We then had the whole evening for relaxing and cooking a nice diner. The idea of having a “gourmet tramp” started during the night, because leaving on Saturday morning instead of Friday night leaves the opportunity to bring fresher food. Why not bring fresh meat or fish (and not canned tuna) and cook with the fire place? And if the hut is equipped with a nice fire place, the imagination is unlimited: cheese in foil, potatoes, marshmallows, banana and chocolate in foil..
The next day we just walked our way back to the car park, and luckily, the rain had stopped! Because we had not a long distance to walk, we were able to take our time in the morning and stop for nibbles and pictures.
|Blue Range hut is well equipped and the fire place is a really good point, especially when the weather is not great.The hut even has a toilet cabin.
Able to see native forest and bush
Track well defined and clear marks
|Relatively steep track, continuous climbing·Track quite slippery given the heavy rain
Misleading track distance signs (it says 3.5 km in 2 h between car park and Blue Range hut, but in fact it is almost 6 km, and approximately 2 h30 m)
Quantities in the recipe book might be too much