Day 1 summary:
Start: Kaitoke (Kiwi ranch road end)
End: Alpha hut
Elevation gain: 1,600m
Hours on the trail (including breaks): 8ish
Hut occupancy: ~26 people and a dog
Six trampers arrived for an early 7:00am departure from Platform 9 on a stunning Saturday morning. We shared the van with Tereza and Aimee who were planning on doing a loop down to Eastern Hutt Hut on Sunday, after spending the night at Alpha Hut. With a great forecast and a clear Saturday morning, we were all very excited during the drive to Kiwi Ranch Road at the prospect of fine weather up and over the tops.
After an early start we were herded up Marchant ridge by the trip leader, who ensured that we didn’t go too slow by offering to sing Meatloaf to those of us at the back. Marchant ridge lived up to its reputation – while relatively easy going in the morning sun, we were thankful for the few glimpses we received along the way.
We arrived at a rather full Alpha hut eight hours after leaving the road end and cooked a glorious feast of smoked salmon pasta. A quick swap of the keys with Dan, a couple of games of cards and an early night was had by all (in anticipation of a decent effort on the Sunday).
Day 2 summary:
Start: Alpha hut
End: Otaki forks
Elevation gain: 1,200m
Hours on the trail (including breaks): 10ish
Group participants eager enough to swim in the river at the end: 4/6
An early start meant we got up past the tree line just in time to see a stunning sunrise over the ranges as we began the stretch across the tops, with a full(ish) moon still also out and adding to the magic. The walk along the tops, Mt Hector, down past Kime Hut and along to Field hut was incredible the whole way – perfect weather and amazing views all the way.
Snack breaks, photos and happiness were plentiful. Three deer were spotted in the valleys down from the tops as we worked our way across.
Our leader effectively demonstrated how to trip over a rock and faceplant with style, but the rest of the crew decided not to copy that particular action, so we all got to Otaki forks happy, uninjured, and thoroughly exhausted. We then decided to take an invigoratingly refreshing dip in the Otaki River at the campground before the final walk out to the van (parked past the slip).
All in all, it was a big day, but we couldn’t have asked for better conditions and a great time was had by all.