Pizzas and Powell Hut – Tararua Forest Park

The first stop on this trip was the mysterious Mount Holdsworth Pizza restaurant. This joint – a Canadian Rockies style log building located close to the Mount Holdsworth camping area – is only open on Friday nights during summer. It’s a full-blown pizza restaurant however, serving delicious pizzas to an enthusiastic clientele. I can recommend the pear, blue cheese, walnut and honey version, and David’s Purple Thistle with artichoke was also good.

Secret Pizza Restaurant – (photo credit: Gina)

We dined with the Medium group, who were night tramping to Atiwhakatu Hut and then on to Jumbo the next day. Our group took the glamping ethos seriously and camped in the Holdsworth campground. Gina and Nate put up their tents and David and I bedded down on a groundsheet and sleeping mats under one of the campground shelters.

We set off around 8am the next day, climbing up the gentle Annie to the Rocky Lookout for a morning snack and took in the views. The day was clear and the breeze was light, so it was really pleasant. Then it was on to Mountain House for a short rest before taking on the grind up to Powell Hut. There are many steps on this section, and the ground has eroded around the bottom steps of many so it can be a real leg stretch to mount the first one at times. We made good time however and got to Powell Hut around midday.

I really enjoyed the bush and vegetation along the track to Powell Hut. It’s fascinating watching it change as you climb, and seeing the alpine plants starting to dominate as you get higher. We never see these plants in everyday life, so it feels special to be in a landscape where they are everywhere.

After lunch at Powell Hut, David and I decided to make the most of the calm conditions and push on to the Mount Holdsworth Trig. This involved an hour walking along the ridge, up a gentle incline. We saw a few other parties coming the other way – some doing the whole circuit in a day and some who had stayed at other huts.

There was a lot of cloud, so not much to see at the top, although the shifting cloud would occasionally clear on one side or another revealing the valleys below. We spent a good half hour at the top enjoying the atmosphere and eating our snacks before walking back down to the hut for the night.

Enjoying the view from the top of Mount Holdsworth – (photo credit: David)

Powell Hut is well equipped, and built to the same standard as great walk huts, with gas stoves, pack storage in the bunk rooms, a big kitchen-dining area and extensive decks for taking in the views. There were four or so other parties staying, so we got to share conversations and experiences with them during the evening. David’s trip meals must be legendary. On this trip we had smoked salmon pasta, followed by the super easy and super delicious ginger nut apple crumble (check out the recipes on the club website). We then enjoyed the views on a calm, almost windless, evening (unheard of at Powell Hut!).

Evening view from Powell Hut – (photo credit: Gina)

The sunrise on Sunday morning was spectacular. Some got up early to enjoy it from the deck and David got some stunning photos. The sky was clear and it would have been a great day for taking in the view from the top. We decided to head back down though – retracing our steps .

Sunrise from Powell Hut – (photo credit: David)

We were out around midday and completed the Glamp with coffee and pies in Carterton, finishing off a very pleasant late summer weekend in the beautiful Tararua ranges.

Glampers – looking south from Powell Hut – courtesy of an anonymous tramper

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