On a slightly overcast Sunday, we set out for a day on the tracks of Mt Holdsworth. We got out of bed in uncivilised hours (7:30am) for a Sunday morning, packed lunch and left home around 9:00am. My wife would have rather enjoyed a traditional Mothers’ Day, tucked up in bed ‘till 11am pampered by the kids, but grudgingly joined the rest of the family for the walk. After 90 minutes, drive over the Rimutakas and a brief stop for coffee in Greytown, we arrived at Mt Holdsworth car park. All dressed responsibly for a day of unsettled weather.
We started the walk around 10:45am. The first part of the track was very well laid and a gentle uphill to Rocky Lookout Point, almost good enough for wheelchair access. This part of the track was sheltered, by a thick canopy of beautiful natural fauna, from the gusty wind being experienced higher up the mountain. Not far into the walk we met the overnight campers returning with the horror story of wind, rain and a sleepless night. Thankfully, the weather had improved and there was no sign of the previous night’s storm except water streaming down between rocks around the track. It took us 90 minutes to reach Rocky Lookout Point, somewhat at a slow pace set by younger members of the walking party. From the lookout point we could see towards the East (I think); the Wairarapa landscape covered by the thick forest of Holdsworth.
Everyone tucked into their lunch. Unfortunately, we could not sit on the flashy newly built lookout platform, as the gusty wind was bad at the exposed point. We took cover behind the Rock. After 45 minutes break, Simon and Ally with their young children decided to turn back.
The rest of us headed up towards Mountain House Shelter. Soon the track became a bit untidy, no longer wheelchair friendly!!, with protruding rocks and an uneven surface – but still a pretty easy track. This part of the track along the ridge was a bit exposed to the wind. From the ridge track we could get a good view of the contours of Mt Holdsworth. It took us around an hour from the Rocky Lookout to reach the shelter. The shelter had posters containing interesting historical facts about a lodge where the shelter stands now. We could also see the lodge up on the hill, another two hour walk away, where overnight campers would have spent the previous night. Mike recounted the recent history of the lodge on the hill being burned down along with a fugitive involved in a drug deal gone wrong, real life story for silver screen.
After another 45 minutes drinking coffee we brought along and eating jelly beans supplied by our ever so resourceful trip leader, we started the return walk. Soon after we turned left at Pig Flat towards Atiwhakatu Valley, the track got steep and rocky. Some parts of the steep incline were covered by beautiful beach forest. I started to hear complaints from the two tiring kids. The more experienced Mike and Anne-Marie charged ahead of us. Wishfully I assured my grumpy wife and tiring daughter that we should get through this 2:1 steep section of slope in half an hour. The steep downhill continued for well over an hour, before landing on the flat ground of Donnelly Flat. It was getting late and we sped along the easy track perched above the Holdsworth Creek. The last section of the walk was really beautiful, but due to faltering light we sped along without taking time to absorb the views. We finished our walk around 4:30pm, taking lot more time than more experienced walkers would do.
The walk had the right balance of sections of easy and more difficult terrain for the kids, just stretching their physical limits. Along with the physical exercise, we also socialised with like minded people. Mike and Anne-Marie were ever so polite walking companions. If not for the walk we would have had a lazy ‘Mother’s Day’ gorging on food. It was a great day out for my young family. My wife may disagree, you’ll have to ask her!! Anyway, we made up by visiting McDonalds for a cheap and lazy dinner when we returned to Hutt. My kids rate McDonalds better than Logan Brown and Ayesha was happy not to have to cook dinner – everyone was happy.