Not the greatest start to the trip…
Graeme from the AA was just as baffled as I was that neither the remote nor physical key would unlock the van. The van wouldn’t unlock because of a flat battery, but we would have to get into the van to open the bonnet to get to the battery to charge it. Graeme had some tricks up his sleeve (or in his truck) and the van was ready to go, about two hours later than we would have liked. However, we were concerned that the battery issues could continue through the weekend, and an isolated roadend in the Kawekas is not the place that you want to encounter them. We called in Tony S, to look after the van for the weekend and bring it back to health (thanks Tony!) and jumped in Nicki’s car to head up to ANZAC Park (in Norsewood) for the night.
On Saturday morning, we drove another 2 hours to Makahu Saddle, to start our tramp. The carpark looked busy, but it seemed that most people were heading up into the main Kaweka Range, as we didn’t encounter many people our track following the base of the hills. The track started well, with a few stream crossings along the way (this is not a track where you keep dry boots), and we made it to the Kaweka Flats Bivy for lunch.
We headed on into the forest to find the historic Iron Whare, well worth the side trip. A cosy hut, with great views, and far away from the troubles of city life – would be a good sell. The Iron Whare was built in the 1870s as a musterer’s hut, to support pastoral farming, and still can be used as a shelter (although a tent may be preferable).
After the side trip to Iron Whare, the track gets more challenging, with sections of loose scree and repeated descents into river valleys. Descending on loose rock/scree. (photo: James) The sight of the hut was very welcome, as the track since Iron Whare had been a bit more challenging than expected. There was a family group also at the hut, so two of us set up tents outside, while the other two claimed bunks inside. A good place to listen out for kiwi. The hut book revealed that two kiwi tracking volunteers had stayed the previous night.
On Sunday, we returned the same way in typically varied tramping weather, alternating between rain and sun – so less photos. We came across a large contingent of Havelock North Scouts at Kaweka Flats – a bit of a shock after seeing only a few people previously on the trip. We made it back to the carpark by 3pm for the long trip back to Wellington.
Rough trip times: Makahu Saddle Carpark to Kaweka Flats Bivouac – 1 hour
Kaweka Flats Bivouac to Middle Hill Hut (incl. side trip to Iron Whare) – 4.5 hours