We left Friday evening, the van was full and everyone was happy and excited for our tramp. After a quick dinner in Bulls, we arrived at a backpackers place in Stratford, where we found out that we would get to sleep in until 8am, so we were already off to a very good start of our trip.
The view was really good on Saturday morning, the sky was clear and we got a very good view of Mount Taranaki. We got to the Visitor Centre around 10am and had some quick coffees and snacks. After some repacking of packs (after yours truly had a quick lesson on how to pack your pack) we went on our merry way up the mountain. Unfortunately the view was not that great because we were surrounded by bushes at first and by clouds later.
Since I am new to tramping in New Zealand I was amazed by everything I was seeing, especially since I have never really been on a mountain. It really was too bad there wasn’t much of a view, but I think I would have stopped every 5 minutes to take a new photo if that was the case. I don’t know if you all know this, but you are living in such a beautiful country!The only bad part was that the track was covered with snow and ice, with made our progress very slow. The rain also didn’t help matters but I am looking forward to doing this trail again in summer. Besides crossing some little creeks, we also had to walk through a real waterfall! Okay, it was a very small waterfall, but I still think that is very cool.
We had lunch after a few hours of walking, but we didn’t want to sit around for too long, because we were going to be pretty cold and wet if we spend too much time sitting down. Progress was slow due to the snow, ice, creeks and rocks, but another thing that slowed us down was a big slip. We could only cross this slip one at a time, so you can image it took quite a bit of time with 11 of us.
Sometime during the afternoon the weather cleared a bit and we had some amazing views. The sun was out and there was hardly any wind. My fellow trampers told me that this does not happen too often so we were lucky with the lack of wind.At some point we could see part of the Holly Hut in the distance, which was really nice because now you knew what you were walking towards. By this point the group was spread out but we all managed to arrive within an hour of each other.
Holly Hut is a really nice hut with great facilities. Thanks to Richard, the fire was already going by the time the rest of us got to the hut. After putting on some dry clothes and getting organised, we started preparing dinner. I am saying we, but I actually didn’t help making dinner. Thanks again to the cooks because our salmon pasta tasted great. After some chocolate biscuits and chatting and relaxing a bit, we needed to talk about the track on Sunday. We decided that we were going to take a different route than Saturday, since it was quite a difficult track with the snow and it would be very exposed with the wind. We decided to backtrack for about an hour and then take a route that would take us straight down the mountain. We would find the road after some hours and we would then have to make our way up the road to the Visitor Centre again to get the van. This would mean a lot less ice and snow and less exposure since there would be vegetation all around us again.
After this, I am pretty sure everyone went to sleep early. I didn’t hear any rats running around at night, so I think our plan of hanging all our food in bags from the ceiling was a good idea. The matrasses in the hut were nice and comfy and this is apparently not always the case in every hut.
Sunday we were going to leave at 8am and we left only a bit later than that. I think the main reason for us leaving late was the amazing view we had of Mount Taranaki. The only sad part was having to put your wet shoes back on again.
The second day was sunny but windy. Especially the first hour or so, it was really exposed but it definitely was not cold. The track was easier to walk because it didn’t have so much snow and ice but going downhill was difficult because there were quite a few steep steps along the way. However, we made great progress going downhill. Not being able to feel the wind and it being sunny made for a really great walk. It was beautiful scenery and we had some great views.
Walking around in the rainforest was something I had never done before and it was amazing. Everything looked so green and vibrant, you could hear all these little animals running around, there was basically something for all your senses.
It was a relatively short walk compared to the day before, since we reached the road about 12.30pm. Once again, Richard was ahead of the pack and he hitchhiked up to the Visitor Centre so he soon came racing around the corner with the van. I think everyone was happy to put on some dry clothes. The way back in the van was nice, lots of chats going on and everyone was just sharing their experiences. Even though it was a very hard trip for me personally, I had a great time thanks to my fellow trampers and the organising that Joe did. They gave me really good advice and helped me along the way whenever they could. I had a great first tramp and when the weather gets a bit better, I definitely want to go again. Thanks Joe, Jane, Jue, Yao, Richard, Kerry, Caryl, Clinton, Angelique and David.