We started with a well-used pattern: depart Wellington railway station, dinner at Bulls and then camp at the very nice campsite by the river at Mangaweka. For company on the trip we had a party of three cyclists. The night at Mangaweka was uneventful although the temperature dropped below zero and the tents were coated with ice when we awoke.
So the next morning we were keen to get underway. The trip to Rotorua was punctuated by a stop to take on hot liquid refreshments (AKA coffee) in Taihape and then another stop for the inevitable consequences at Turangi. We arrived at our starting point, the Lake Okataina road end, around lunch time on a nice fine day.
We had a bite to eat, dried out our tents and got set to head off. The track ‘meanders’ (that’s the word used in the guide) beside the lake so we meandered along it gradually climbing over ridges and then dipping back to the lake side. A few tree falls interrupted our meandering where we had to scramble around them. After three hours or so we reached the other side of the lake and climbed over a gentle saddle to get to Lake Tarawera.
On the Sunday some of us made the sightseeing walk to the Tarawera falls. This follows the river with views of cascades and fascinating rock formations. In some cases the trees look as though they are growing out of the stone. The track passes by where the Tarawera River disappears down faults in the old lava flows and goes on to where the water reappears, bursting from the cliff face as the Tarawera falls. A great sight and a trip well worth making.
We then retraced our path back to the campsite and then around Lake Tarawera to Humphries Bay. Some of us went for a quick dip to get rid of the accumulated sweat and grime. We enjoyed dinner on a still evening, watching the ducks and boats on the lake.
On the last day the weather had become misty and we headed back to the road end. Finally at the road end, real coffee while we waited for the van to pick us up. The rain held off until we were on the road home.
All-in-all an enjoyable tramp: great scenery, good weather, a friendly group, good food – what more do you want?
Thanks to our trip leaders – Ray and Meena. Also a special mention to Meena who grew up in the Rotorua area and was a source of useful information especially the ditty ‘Okataina; rhymes with vagina’ to help us with our pronunciation.