On Friday night we ended up going to Waigongoro Hut, which was less than an hour from the road end to save us a chilly night camping. The track is reasonably straight forward with one creek crossing, which can be avoided by taking a slightly different track lower down from the carpark. It climbs gently before descending down to the hut. The hut is a typical Egmont National Park lockwood affair, very spacious and of almost identical design of the Waiaua Gorge Hut on the Around the Mountain Circuit (AMC).
On Saturday morning we were treated to a still day and gorgeous shots of the mountain from the hut. We retraced our steps back to the carpark, filled up with water and talked to the DoC ranger at the visitors centre. She confirmed we should take the lower track as there is snow and ice on the upper track. The lower track being cut recently, she assured us, was relatively straightforward.
We traversed the track reasonably easily, with only a couple of annoying bits of tree fall on the track, and a little bit of up and down and a couple of steep descents to creeks. Having completed the AMC over Easter, it was very similar but easier terrain. What struck me was how much snow there was on the lower track, only at about ~1000m altitude. This confirmed our decision to take the low track, as the high track would likely been unsafe without alpine equipment.
We managed to get to the hut in just under 4.5 hours from the carpark, taking into a account a half hour lunch break. I retired for a nap while the rest of the crew got the fire going. For dinner we had the tried and true green tuna curry, which I’m getting very good at preparing I must say! It went down a treat with the crew.
On Sunday some more photos were taken and we re-traced our steps back to the Dawson Falls carpark, with the going seemingly easier but taking us almost as much time (4 hours, without a lunch break). We went up to Stratford Subway for lunch and drove back to wellington. The still day and open skies ensured enjoyable tramping and great photos taken.