First decision to be made was should we go SH1 or SH2?? Which will have less traffic and be the quickest? Majority said go SH2 so we did, although our first driver was a bit unsure as we got to some heavy traffic with a “Delay accident ahead” sign. But it all cleared very fast! Then the fun started with this driver somehow turning on the back windscreen wipers over the Rimutakas. It was a quite sudden “eh, eh, eeeh, eeeh,…” sound as there wasn’t much rain. The driver asked “what’s that noise?” We all said, “It’s the back windscreen wipers”. Driver: “How did I turn that on? I’ll try this button and if we don’t hear it, then it means just don’t press the button” Us: ha, ha, ha. Wipers: “eeh, eeh, eeh..” Us: “Back windscreen wipers still going, must be another button!!” Next thing you know I was saying this trip is hilarious and we haven’t even started tramping!!
Everyone out-voted the trip leader’s suggestion to have dinner at a Chinese takeaway and we stopped at the kebab place in Carterton. When we finally got to the road end and drove through the farmland to the next gate, we had a decision to make: “do we go through this one or turn right along the road?” Going through the gate was the right choice.
The walk in to Triple X hut was only 5 minutes (that should be prerequisite for easy trips!). Luckily we found the hut empty, and as it has 2 separate bunk rooms we decided snorers would go in one bunk room and everyone else in the other; otherwise known as boys in one and girls in the other. As we were starting to go to sleep we could hear voices from the other bunk room and said, “Is that John and Barry talking?” Listening from our room we worked out that, no, it was just John talking! “Oh well, when he stops we know that he is asleep”, we said. And I thought I talked a lot. I soon learned on this trip that John can talk more than me especially when he meets other engineers!
The next day we had a leisurely start and got tramping by 9am. The track can be like a wide road at times and we could see that they have put in a few more zig zags so although it is a constant uphill, it’s not steep. The bush is wonderful, with so much rimu and ferns and beech and more. I couldn’t believe how much young rimu there was in this area – I have never seen this much rimu in the Tararuas!! Even though it is only two-and-a-half hours to Sunrise we did stop for breaks (this being an easy trip after all) and admired a rainbow at one stage! There was hardly any rain…well no rain, just a few drops. Popping out onto the top the hut is suddenly right there and we thought yep, it’s lunch time. The EM group, which was going on to Top Maropea Hut, joined us there shortly after we stopped, and we sat in the lovely sun enjoying the view.
After lunch we all took a walk up to Armstrong Saddle and Tracey and Helen went right to Top Maropea Hut and back to check out where the EM group was staying. Then the hut started to fill up but everyone was nice and it wasn’t noisy really except for the wind whistle in the night.
But of course we have to mention the games of 500. After a bit of coaching, both Tracey and Ilske were trained up John Hickey-style. So Barry teamed up with Ilske and Simone who was helping her. Then John teamed up with Tracey. While Ilske got a bit tired so Simone took her place and she and Barry had a complete losing streak, despite some “adventurous” calls from newbie Tracey. So that was a game to John and he was quite pleased with himself despite Simone teasing him about taking ages to make decisions to play something. So we thought we better have another game as Simone didn’t want to go to bed on a losing streak. John and Barry got fierce in their bidding with John going for diamonds and Barry for spades. Simone passed and Tracey bet diamonds. Simone tried to give Barry a clue to let John go with diamonds as she had surprises for him with 6 diamonds in her hand. He certainly was surprised as she waited for the top 4 cards to be played before coming out with the next two highest. In the end he found out Tracey only had 2 diamonds! But at least everyone went to sleep after a lot of laughter and no one felt that they were the loser at all.
The next day we had stunning weather as we came down from Sunrise Hut after a beautiful sunrise. We decided to take the track down to the Waipawa River to Waipawa Forks Hut for lunch. It looked like a replica of Triple X hut in fact, same design and all. Given the sunny day, it was lovely to come back along the river which was so low none of us minded getting our boots wet, it was more a case of don’t step on the brown slippery rocks (a bit of wisdom which a couple of us forgot!). John even managed to break a pole he had borrowed from one of the others while he was experiencing the cool river! But he didn’t break himself, so it was all good. Some of us who had completed the bushcraft course got a great opportunity to practice linking up to do river crossings.
At the track end we met up with the EM group, and headed off for coffee and cake at Yummy Mummy’s Cheesecakes in Woodville. It was an uneventful drive home, except for one driver deciding to try out the suggestion of the person riding shotgun to start in second gear…at the lights on the Hutt Road. Was all fine, after stalling and the light turning orange while getting going again!
We got back to Wellington early Sunday evening agreeing it was a great trip, with heaps of laughter and sunshine.