Roaring Stag Hut – Tararua Forest Park

Day one – The tramp started with a meet up at Wellington train station under a reasonably grey sky. The drive was long, so it was hard to pick what the weather was going to be like when we made it to the start point – but we ended up with rain. Steady slow rain.

We left the carpark at 11am and started out on the track. At this point we found out that Katie loves mud. She is not just a part-time needs-must can-put-up-with-mud person, she is a true mud-ophile. The early parts of the track did not have enough mud for Katie, and a few of us (me) were still rock-hopping to avoid very wet boots.

We crossed the first of two swing bridges, and the track wound its way alongside the river – which added to the rain quite nicely.

The five of us came across a big fallen tree, and there was no clear way through. Calum managed to scramble up and over it pretty neatly, but the rest of us had to think about it. There was a bit of ingenious leverage and good luck and then all five of us (and our packs) made it through.

The second swing bridge had a real swing to it and was longer than expected. It took us an hour to get up to the second bridge, after which the track headed up through tree roots. There was not enough mud there for Katie, but it was a good scramble.

After another hour, and a few stops to catch our breath, we reached a turn-off. From here, Katie got happier as the track flattened out into unending swampy mud pools. Lunch was a standing affair – we had a small bite in the rain and were unable to find a place with no mud to sit.

Just before we reached the hut, there were two reasonably sized unbridged side creeks to cross . Slightly higher than usual due to the rain, they were relatively easily crossed and provided a great opportunity to clean our boots and gaiters (and knees, for some) before reaching the hut. With boots now properly sodden, we finished off the day’s walk/mud-trudge and arrived at the hut at around 3pm.

This left us with enough daylight to chop up some wood using the hut’s variety of rusted saws and axes, get the fire going and have a lovely chat. With the delightful rainy weather, we unsurprisingly had the hut to ourselves. Dinner was a brilliant soba noodle satay with carrots and a few glorious bites of fudge to follow.

Day two – We started out from the hut at around 8.30am and saw a few glimpses of blue sky. The rain had continued overnight, but stopped before the morning, leaving parts of the ground drier than before. Katie had managed to turn a few of us into her mud-disciples and there was less avoidance of the swathes of brown. The rain unfortunately joined the party soon after and stayed with us for the rest of the day. We re-traced our steps from the previous day: back through the rivers and over the bridges. And this time we found a way down the treacherous tree – making it back to the van at around 12.30pm. We then headed back into town.

I’m not sure we were all converted to mud-tastic tramps, but it was a very enjoyable weekend we all agreed.

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