This trip report is a collaborative effort written much like a childhood story game. The first few sentences were emailed to the next punter who added their thoughts who then emailed it to the next punter, and so on. This could make for either a very interesting or a very incoherent report!
Our tramp began with a very civilized Saturday morning start. Rumour had it that one of the co-leaders refused to do a Friday night road end. Surprisingly, there were no complaints, but that was probably because we didn’t have to share the van with a higher grade trip. Softies unite!
We departed Wellington on a sunny Saturday morning, only to approach the Poads road end, outside of Levin, where the Tararuas were covered in cloud.
We made it through the narrow looking bridge to the main car park where we all got our gear ready before starting the trip via cowpat fields. Some were wearing gaiters and thinking maybe that was a good idea…. One hour in and have found that if you want to avoid the muddy bogs you need to be pretty good at swinging from trees/bush and have acrobatic balancing skills, the challenge commences.
Following our “Thoroughbred”, the 7 hours recommended trip became less than 5 hours. We proudly felt that we are not medium fit, but F fit. We were rewarded with luxurious hot drink and relaxing in the hut that is located near the top of Waiopehu overlooking Levin Township and west coast. We conversed and consumed our goodies until a beautiful sunset appeared in the horizon and slowly blanketed us and the mountain ranges with warm orange sky.
We sat in the somewhat smoky confines of the hut chatting & gossiping till we drifted off to bed at the late late time of 8pm-ish.
Next morning dawned clear with magic views up to Pukematawai and of the main range, marvelous. The enthusiastic ones went for a walk up to a better viewing point while the rest of us sat around the hut reading and relishing the lovely sunshine.
Enthusiastic ones though were generously rewarded. Less than half an hour took them from Waiopehu hut to Waiopehu peak (1094 m). Unfortunately the memorial for the person that died in severe storm in 1936 was disassembled and removed for repair. Still weather was particularly well for the season which let us enjoy views of Dundas Ridge as well as nearby peaks. Experienced team members held an interesting lecture about North Tararua’s geography.
Around 10ish we enjoyed one last look at the view and then started our tramp back to society. The going was easier with there being less mud, water and slippery areas on the track…and of course having lighter packs from the previous day made our speed and progress good. With a couple breaks and a lunch, we got back to the van in just over 4 hours.
On the drive over the Poads road bridge, driver number one made it, with only the side mirror making unexpected contact with the bridge (no damage, Gareth). Driver no 2 had spent the whole weekend knowing her big challenge would be to get the van back across the bridge with no bangs or scrapes. Lined up, she put her foot down and the van flew across the bridge without touching the sides. A loud cheer from freaked out punters provided the appropriate end to a great weekend.