Mitre Flats Hut navigation

Ten WTMC members set off on Saturday 3 December to do an EM navigation trip to Mitre Flats Hut via Blue Range. It was such a beautiful, sunny day that we wondered if it would be better to just head to the beach rather than go tramping. However, the first stop at Wild Oats in Carterton proved not to be too arduous. While we enjoyed breakfast/morning tea, Tony explained declination and how to read a map. We then carried on to the Mitre Flats road end. Lucky for us, the farmer is a good friend of Tony’s and he was able to gain us VIP access which allowed us to skip the 3 km walk through farmland and park us right at the edge of the Tararua Forest. Tony patiently showed us all how to set our compasses and having agreed on a direction, off we went! We walked along the track briefly before deciding it was time to head off-track upward towards Blue Range.

Blue Range on the way to Mitre Flats hut
Where to now?

Tony said it would take approximately an hour to cover 1 km on the flat, or 200 m vertical, when off-track for an EM group. I thought this was an exaggeration but Heather’s GPS watch proved that at times we were even slower than expected. This was partly due to us being a big group and also due to us sometimes taking the ‘scenic route’ rather than the direct route. There was also an instance of heading straight into dense scrub despite doing our best to navigate around it—but anyway we ploughed on through with a lesson learnt! Although the trip was hard work it was great fun reading our compasses and mapping our route. As you can see from the track of Matt’s GPS (hidden in his pack) we weren’t too far off the intended route.

Route to Mitre Flats Hut
Our route from Blue Range down to Mitre Flats Hut. Not bad for a first try. We went a bit right, then corrected and missed the slip, and ended up right at the bridge as planned.

We made it to the hut at approximately 6:30 pm. Half the group opted to stay in the hut while the tougher half decided to camp out in what was a fairly mild night.

Mitre Flats Hut
Mitre Flats Hut

After setting up for the night, we enjoyed a cup of tea followed by a hearty Tomato Mac and Cheese dish from the WTMC cookbook. The next morning we attempted to head down the river back to the van, however, it was decided that the water level was too high for the many members of the group who were vertically challenged. Instead we made our way down the track.

Matt’s DIY tripod with safety leash

As we were in no rush, we had time to try several creative methods to get a group photo including setting up a ‘tripod’ and some clever photo-shopping two photos together.

We were back at the van at about 1 pm. Our VIP parking spot was even more appreciated at this point and the plebs leaving the park at the same time as us seemed rather jealous. Having completed our tramp, we decided it was time to re-visit Wild Oats again—Tony needs to start getting a commission for bringing his trips here. Everyone had a chance to replenish with well-deserved food and coffee (bowl-sized was needed for some). Then it was off back to Wellington, with tired legs, good memories, and some new navigational skills.

For more Tararua photos go to

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