This tramp started from Putangirua Pinnacles, walking down to Mangatoetoe (Cape Palliser) via a number of huts. We had left Platform 9 at 5:15 pm on Friday for a couple hours drive to the Pinnacles campsite. Apparently the water at the campsite was not safe to drink, so we had filled our bottles at a Thai restaurant in Martinborough where we had dinner that night. We had a fly and three tents between seven of us and it was decent weather to sleep outside. The campsite itself was quiet with only two other occupants and well equipped with a flushing toilet.
We got up at 7 am the next day and left the campsite just before 8:30. Ian kindly drove the van to the the other end of the track, i.e. Mangatoetoe, and walked in from that end. The campsite is around 30-45 minutes to the Putangirua Pinnacles, where part of The Lord of The Rings was filmed. We had a 10 minute stop at the Pinnacles lookout to enjoy the view and take off a layer of clothing. From the lookout, we walked to Washpool Hut along the fairly overgrown track.
We had a couple of incidents of people getting stung by ongaonga and scraped by bush lawyer. There were also a number of steep ascents and descents, which made it interesting. We were rewarded with a good view of Palliser Bay, Cook Strait and some of the snowy hills on the South Island. We arrived at Washpool Hut at around 1 pm and stopped there for lunch. The hut did not get much sun when we were there, so we did not stay very long. The track goes down to the river not far from the hut, where we stopped to fill our bottles. We then crossed the river to stay on the track, which is when most of us gave up on keeping our feet dry.
From there, we had what was probably the toughest part of the tramp with a steep climb which we traversed quickly (I think someone mentioned that we climbed 500 m in an hour). Once we got to the top, it was a relatively straight descent to Pararaki Hut, which we reached at around 4:30. Ian had already arrived an hour earlier and was busy collecting and sawing wood. The mattresses in the hut were unfortunately mouldy, thus we used our ground sheets on top while a couple of us decided to camp outside. Dinner menu was pasta with sundried tomatoes, feta, vegetables and chorizo that was well cooked by Debbie. After dinner, some of us went outside and took photographs. Ian took some nice shots of yoga poses under the stars. We then went to bed at around 9:30. Rumours had it that there was a sighting of Elvis that night.
We got up just before 7 am the next day, had breakfast and were ready to leave by 8 am. After crossing the nearby Pararaki Stream, we again traversed a couple of steep ascents and descents. After about two hours, we reached the top which leads down towards Kawakawa Hut following a stream. The walk down to Kawakawa Hut was a scenic one, with greenery around us down the spur and a fairly flat track following the stream closer to the hut. We reached the hut at around 11 am where we stopped for snacks, water refill and some more photography sessions.
From the hut, the track goes up a stream while crossing it multiple times. Ian recommended that we stopped for lunch at around 12:15 just before the steep ascent as the track deviates away from the stream. The northerly wind blew strong as we climbed up the hill, but we all managed to get by pretty well. After a while, the track goes down on the other side of the saddle and follows another stream towards Mangatoetoe Hut. We reached Mangatoetoe Hut at around 2:30 where we stopped for a break and Guillaume made good use of an armchair that was available there. From there, it was a one hour walk to the car park on a rocky track following Mangatoetoe Stream. We had the northerly wind at our back during this last stretch which was helpful.
The drive back to Wellington was also scenic along Palliser Bay and the rain did not start until we were well settled in the van. Thanks to Megan for organizing the tramp and Emma and Ian for the photos. It was a fun trip with excellent scenery, but also some challenging ascents and descents. I would come back to the Aorangis some time.