We left Wellington on Friday evening, so that the Medium Fits we were travelling with could hit the trail early the following morning. Parking up at the trail head we put on our head torches and made the short walk out to Parawai Hut.
For Jo and I this was the first time tramping with the club, and having recently arrived from England this would be my first overnight tramp in NZ. As we boiled water for a morning brew a light mist was clinging to the ground and trees around the hut, with sun and blue sky promising to break through before long. By the time we left the hut the mist had well and truly been burned off, and we were grateful for the shade as we ascended into the bush line. We passed a hunter with a rifle and four hunting dogs, returning empty-handed from his night in the bush.
We followed Field Track up the spine of a wooded ridge. With brilliant sun pouring through any gaps in the canopy, I kept having to remind myself it was autumn. This was of course compounded by my associating autumn with fallen red and brown leaves, sepia light, and woodlands bursting with crab apples, sloes, rose hips and blackberries. This felt like a different world – one where the longer hours of sunlight and historic absence of mammals had allowed the forest to grow thicker, greener, more profusely. The bush was a riot of ferns, mosses and epiphytes using their host trees to raise them towards the sun.
We crossed over Tirotiro Knob and on towards Field Hut, where we stopped for lunch. There we left our overnight kit and carried on to Table Top. Climbing above the bush line the visibility was fantastic, with great views over the grassy peaks and sharp ridges of the Tararua range. A single dark grey cloud hung over the highest parts of the range as an ominous reminder of what the weather could have been like. Looking westward the sun was just starting its afternoon descent, turning the sea a brilliant silver.
We stayed overnight in Field Hut, where we got to know some of the hut’s more permanent residents. Penny woke the next morning to find one of them had chewed a hole in the pocket of her jacket to get at some peanut M&Ms.
On Sunday morning we descended quickly along the previous day’s route. By noon we were sipping flat whites and then swung through to pick up the Medium Fit group on the way back to Wellington. All in all a successful first tramp!