The weather forecast promised one day of good weather over the long weekend, and when combined with the fact that only the very upper parts of the mountain had skiable snow, the families group opted to do the day walk to Tama Lakes. Only one of the adults had made the trip before, and that was back in 2007, (the days of the club bus) in a similar variety of weather conditions as was seen on this trip.
We got off to an ominous start when half of one family had to return to the lodge to collect a forgotten raincoat (this unforgiving area meant not packing one was not an option), but thankfully this was not a precursor to the rest of the day. The only other gear failure we had was an unnoticed drink bottle drop off the side of a day bag.
The weather stayed clear and dry, with a sharply cool breeze all the way along the upper track to Taranaki Falls. A late morning tea was had above the falls, with a stop for lunch another hour along the way. A few members of the group were struggling by this point, but the magic of digital maps meant we were able to confirm that we only had about half an hours walking to go to get to the lower lake, which persuaded everyone to keep going.
The wind at Lower Tama was strong even by Wellington standards, and bitterly cold to go with it. We wrapped up in all our spare layers and enjoyed the view for a few moments rest and devouring of yet more food. The hardy souls (almost all the adults and none of the kids) headed up to Upper Tama, while the rest of us started our trundle back towards the village. Apparently the wind vanished within 100m of the lookout point we had stopped at on their way up the hill and it was lovely and warm! Definitely the opposite of when I went – the shelter at the top was a god send on that trip.
The kids all decided they wanted to race the missing parents back to Taranaki Falls, and we got to within 15 minutes of the turnoff when the first adults overtook the fastest kids, which was a fantastic way to keep them all moving. We tumbled our way down to the bottom of the falls, enjoyed the cooling spray and a rest for more food, then sincerely appreciated the cool of the bush along the stream back to the village as the weather turned super hot on us.
This incredible group of kids walked 17km there and back over 5 hours (including rests). The complaints we had were few and understandable.
The youngest child at the lodge for the weekend didn’t come, but instead went up the gondola and explored the snow at Knoll Ridge.
This inspired the bigger kids, who wanted to go and find snow on the Sunday. The weather meant that the gondola was closed, so the only snow was that which you could find by walking. Never fear, they found a big chunk of snow in a gully under the gondola line and spent several hours rolling, sliding, and digging in it. The drying room got a significant workout on Sunday night dealing with their sopping wet gear.
Monday dawned much like the rest of the weekend. We cleaned up and were all out of the lodge well before lunchtime, only for some of us to hit an accident at Mackays Crossing…