The tramp to Rangiwahia Hut on the Saturday took us 2 hours with quite a few stops. The return trip on Sunday was quicker at 1½ hours and fewer stops. We walked about 4.4 kms each way, and climbed approximately 500 meters to reach the hut at 1,327 metres above sea level.
This was an easy grade tramp along a very well maintained track. We began at the end of Renfrew Road near Mangaweka (where we camped the previous night). The track was very flat and wide for the first twenty minutes, before climbing a bit more steeply in a ‘Z’ shape up the hill. This was part of a new diversion due to an active slip, and took about 15 minutes. From the ‘Z’ it was another twenty minutes along the side of the hill on a gravel track to the slip. Here we had a beautiful view into a deep ravine ahead of us, and another exquisite view over the plains to Mount Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. The track dips into the ravine and crosses a beautiful arched bridge. From the bridge it is a good 50 minute climb out of the trees, over another smaller bridge, and onto the ridge where the hut is situated. The track is in excellent condition the whole way.
The extra bit
After we arrived at the hut, we split into two groups. The first group set out quite quickly along the ditch like track that leads east away from the hut. This group continued along the poled route through the tussock to the signpost just shy of Mangahuia high point at 1,583 metres. The second group took the same route but at a more leisurely pace and turned back sooner. We all regrouped at Rangiwahia Hut in the late afternoon.
We had the best weather you could possibly imagine. It was clear blue skies on both Saturday and Sunday and extremely hot. We were liberal with the sunscreen, and the author still got sun burnt. The best part of the weather was the superb views we had over towards Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Taranaki. Watching the sunset was a highlight of the trip.
Rangiwahia has bunks for 11 people and two spare matresses, sleeping 13 in total. Because we arrived at lunchtime, we were able to dibs enough bunks for our group of nine. The hut has a fireplace, a nice big table and benches. There is a sink and tap outside on the deck of the hut. The best part of the hut is the long drops because they are painted so beautifully. Our companions for the night were a Danish family (mum, dad, a four year old and a baby!) and a mother and daughter from America.
Garth was our charming trip leader. Also in attendance were Richard, Karen, Alice, Erica, Laurie, Hayley, Andrew and Aimee. This trip was a wonderful introduction to tramping for the new people, and a relaxing trip for some of the more experienced in the group. The trip was also very entertaining due to the shenanigans of one member (who shall remain nameless). On the Friday night at Mangaweka camping ground, two members of the group were unable to squeeze into the available tents. While the author claimed the back of the van, the other group member wriggled his way through the open window of a cabin and slept on the bed inside, getting the best night’s sleep of all of us! This person was also amusing for their choice of tramping food – 19 pieces of bread, three pizzas and a jar of jam. You might be able to spot this person if you see them on your next tramp with a brand new pair of Kathmandu gaiters. Unfortunately the Rangiwahia track did not provide the ideal conditions for breaking said gaiters in. The member in question was somewhat disappointed by this.
Another excellent tramp!