We met at the train station at 7am except for Hugo who met us at the trail head before setting out on our adventure at 8:50. The weather was looking good as the winds had changed to a southerly and the rain stopped. We forded a small river in our SUV that was fairly high but had a concrete bed and there was no danger of stalling the exhaust.
We started off at the end of the Mangatarere road in a shaded cold valley. We walked for 10 minutes along a squishy path until we came upon a small stream to cross. Hugo charged in leading the way and we crossed easily with only some slightly damp socks.
Shortly thereafter the ascent began up the spur. We passed through some beautiful forest and climbed a steep track up about 300 meters in elevation. Through some old growth Kanuka, Rata, Beech and a display of diverse mycology. There was a classic goblin forest at the top with a short side trip and a view of Mitre Peak, and many others. The sky was blue through the tree tops and we soon began our descent down to to the Sayer Hut. We could see Totara Flats once or twice through a break in the trees as we dropped down.
The Hut sits close to but back out of sight of the river near to a small tributary that joins it. We arrived at 2pm. It is one of the oldest hut in the Tararuas, built originally in 1909, and is loaded with character and charming patina. It is ramshackle decorated with an assortment of random metal signs, and deer antlers. Inside was no different with a collection of antique milk powder tins, an old boot, a drawing of said boot on the wall and many other memorabilia from the last century. However, it is also cosy with an old open stone fire place and handmade furniture including six bunks.
We had heard reports of rats and Hugo brought a trap which we promptly baited and set. We did see droppings on one bunk but never heard or saw any sight of them.
We dropped off our packs and we left Garth on fire detail. Our trip leader, Jamie, led Hugo and I on a bush whacking excursion down to the river. We planned to try to cross and walk the 2K or so up to Totara Flats hut. It was running high and fast after all the heavy rain the previous couple of days so we decided to walk up the river a bit and made our way up through the bush on a deer track until we decided to head back to the hut. Along the way we collected a bit of fire wood (one huge log of driftwood).
Once we returned to the hut we discovered two dogs, Alpine and Koda, resting on the porch we found out that they belonged to an intrepid mother daughter pair, Emma and Bree, who shared the hut with us for the night. We got the fire roaring and cooked a recipe from the WTMC cookbook of Tomato Mac and cheese. We cooked the meal right on the open hearth, there was very clever metal swing arm that held our billy and could be moved over the hot coals! We made heaps and shared it with everyone. Good chats, lots of chocolate, and solid nights sleep! We set of in the morning at 8:30 and got back to car at 1:30pm.