Platform 9, 5.15pm, we know the drill. Two groups heading up to Taranaki, 6 to do the Pouakai Circuit and 5 for a tramp to Lake Dive Hut. The formalities continued with kebabs in Bulls, par de course for many trips to the western side of the North Island.
We arrived at Konini Lodge and interrupted the card game of a group of merry men. A nice and comfy sleep and leisurely morning was had before the breaking of the two groups and a short drive round to the north side to begin our adventure.
Van expertly parked, knee straps err strapped on, we hit the road, walking on the Kokowai Track, avoiding the Eastern part of the Holly Hut Track due to some major, and clearly visible, slips.
A nice start to the day, we set a good pace and made it to Holly Hut for a successful lunch. Successful for those who made the detour along Bells Falls Flat to view Bells Falls. They got to stretch their legs in the spring sunshine and check out some lovely waterfalls on the northern side of The Dome. For the remaining members, success was measured by the relaxing, post-lunch snooze! Everyone was a winner!
We then traversed Ahukawakawa (Sphagnum Moss Swamp) and hit the steps, passing a few photographers disguised as hunters. We arrived at Pouakai Hut amid warnings that it was already full! The hut indeed was full – photographers, returning photographers (who we passed earlier, tampers, hunters, 1-hour walkers and hut first timers. A real abundance of people utilising a lovely hut.
Some more afternoon detouring from some members of the group, venturing out to the famous tarn for a traditional reflection snap before we prepared our evening’s scran.
As with many of the club trips, we were extremely well fed, with seconds for all. Dinner was followed with a wonderful lemon drizzle cake. Unfortunately, the icing had been smudged so we couldn’t make out our names written in perfect cursive or the coloured picture of Mount Taranaki that Neal had insisted he had decorated the cake with. Still, it went down a treat!
We then play a couple of traditional card games. Kings and Arse-holes (or Shithead in the UK) and Cheat. The rules of both games none of our travelling party could recall, making the game of cheat even more corrupt!
Due to the busy-ness of the hut, we were forced to improvise for our much-deserved shut-eye. Basically, we slept on the floor, some of us outside. A good night’s sleep was not had by all, mainly due to the photographers stomping around throughout the night. Still, the morning sunrise was beautiful, with exquisite views of the mountain, Mount Ruapehu and the West coast. We ate breakfast and warmed up for our days walk, 5 of us performing some basic stretches, and Sarah going for a 15km trail run!
We then set off on the mainly downhill stretch, back towards the road end, stopping off at the tarn for another picture moment, although the wind and consequent ripples meant the pictures were crap! Still, the group photo was good, I think….who’s got the group photo? The most challenging aspect of the final stretch was determining when a step began and ended such was the confusing illusionistic effect of the wooden pieces.
We met the others, ate ice cream, drank coffee, and drove home in good time.
Excellent trip to kick of the New Zealand Spring!
Thanks, Tereza for leading with perfection. And thanks to everyone in the group, Tereza, Sarah, Kristy, Stefan and Neal for making the trip awesome!