The last long weekend for a while meant quite a few people headed to the Kawkeas for three days of excellent tramping. The medium’s plan was to camp out all three nights, which meant lugging our tents up hill and down dale. No huts for us, even though there were a few on the route.

Friday night, the Fits, Mediums and Easy Mediums all camped at the Makahu Saddle Campsite/Carpark. It was a clear, still night, so we awoke early on Saturday to frost on the tents. Rumours went round that it had dropped to negative five degrees overnight.

kawekaThe Fits raced off while we Mediums were eating breakfast and the Easy Mediums were still in their tents. With food and a hot drink consumed, we’d thawed out a bit, and headed off in the direction of Kaweka Flats Biv. Deer had been in the area and there were fantastic frost formations on the track. Kaweka Flats is a lovely spot, and we spent a bit of time sitting in the sun, gazing at Kaweka J – where we tried to spot the Fits and failed. Packs back on, our goal was to get to Camp Spur Track and down to Middle Hill Hut, where we’d camp. There was a decent enough scramble down to a small stream where some members of the group were determined not to get their boots wet, so the trip leader led us in a diversion (bushbash) up and around and back to the track. Then we had a steady 300 meter climb to join Camp Spur track.

kaweka2Camp Spur has some beautiful bush and it was a real pleasure to walk on a soft track. This area is undergoing a lot of trapping; it seemed like there was a trap very 100 meters. A good number of the traps were ‘occupied’ with rats or stoats. So it was great to see the trapping was working, but sad that it’s necessary.

Eagle-eyed trip leader spotted a good campsite and we set up for Saturday night’s campfire and entertainment. Half a packet of the heaviest marshmallows in the world were consumed. We also made the discovery that the Brown Kiwi (call identified by Matt’s use of technology) really appreciate 80s disco music. As the interpretive dancing that took place is beyond description, (you truly had to be there), I’ll pass over that…

kaweka3Sunday was the day we needed great weather as the plan was to go up along Camp Spur Track, past the bushline and on the tops. Apart from a bit of wind at the beginning we had a great time in the snow. Elaine did a very stylish fall forward/twist/land on her back staring back from where she’d come from; and after taking photos, her fellow punters went to her aid.

Going down to the Mangatainoka Hot Springs was pretty straight-forward. Again, lovely forest (with lots of traps on the track), a stop for afternoon tea at Makino Hut and a very steep decent to the river. From there we tramped into Mangatainoka Campsite, which is right next to the wonderful Mangatainoka Hot Springs. On the way in we kaweka4came across two very relaxed Fits who had been soaking in it and were strolling back to Te Puia Lodge where the Easy Mediums had been hanging out all weekend. When asked how long it would take to get to the campsite we got a very casual “20 minutes”. After they’d strolled off, we had a confab and concluded that 1) they were Fits, and 2) they didn’t have packs so let’s double the time they said. It worked.

Ah hot pools! Amazingly there weren’t many people camping at a great spot, so we mostly had the pools to ourselves. And they were awesome.

Monday morning. FIVE AM START. Trip leader was determined to get us to the road end in order kaweka5to enjoy another soak in the Mangatutu Hot Springs which were a couple of hundred meters from the roadend. Two hours tramping in the dark, which was a shame as the track was really great, but we did hear a gang of moreporks going for it. After another soak in the pools, we packed up and headed on the long journey back to Wellington. A most excellent weekend, superbly organised and well led by Euan.

Tips for trampers: Lucas’ Papaw Ointment is an unguent suitable for all sorts of rashes.

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