Breaking historical ground (as far as we know), Frances led the first WTMC Musical Tramp with expert skill and agility. The ‘genius’ behind this trip was in the detail: if either of the tramping or musical components had not been achievable – due to adverse weather, broken strings (including hamstrings), or an overcrowded hut craving silence – the weekend would still have been a winner! Everyone came away feeling well-walked with forest-frolics, scree-scrambles, and having thoroughly exercised the vocal chords. Great success!
DAY 0: Friday 8th April
17:00: Depart Wellington Railway Station.
23:00: Arrive Konini Lodge (DOC), Dawson Falls (Manaia Road), Egmont National Park.
An excellent choice of accommodation right at the road-end, with hot showers and kitchen with all the necessary utensils. Staying here for a comparable fee to a backpackers set us up for an early and efficient start the next morning. Dan sung us to sleep with a lullaby.
DAY 02: Saturday 9th April
07:30: Depart Konini Lodge (890 m), heading west along Hasties Hill Track.
08:30: Arrive Hasties Hill (996 m). Continue west along Lower Lake Dive Track.
10:30: Arrive Lake Dive Hut (910 m). Morning tea.
11:00: Depart Lake Dive Hut (910 m), heading north then NE along Upper Lake Dive Track.
13:30: Arrive Kapuni Lodge (Mt Egmont Alpine Club) (1,390 m).
Hasties Hill Track and the Lower Lake Dive Track wind their gentle way through the old and mossy forests that sit like a skirt around the summit of Taranaki. There’re a couple of large streams to cross, but plenty of rocks and when we went no one got wet feet – or even nearly did!
The top of Hasties Hill is a worthwhile 5 minute diversion up a not-very-much-used-and-quite-overgrown track that leads to a nice little clearing, where you can get your bearings: the summit is the big pointy one to the NE, but more interestingly you can see the Beehives to the west where Lake Dive Hut is.
Lake Dive Hut is a great and comfy-looking place – it’d make a great destination for an ‘Easy’ trip (though to return on the Upper Lake Dive Track would probably make it an ‘Easy-Medium’ loop).
There’s a nice climb that keeps you warm as you start up the Upper Lake Dive Track and leave the tree-line behind. Taranaki’s famous awesome views also kick in before too long.
We stayed at the salubrious Kapuni Lodge owned by Mt Egmont Alpine Club that affords spectacular vistas out the the east – even from the long-drop!
In the afternoon we got stuck into the musical component of this trip. The seven of us brought five ukuleles, one fife, one rice-shaker and one dedicated voice, as well as music sheets to share ranging from Jungle Book numbers, to Beatles hits and even to Māori melodies. There was much merriment, and plenty of snacks!
DAY 03: Sunday 10th April
07:30: Depart Kapuni Lodge (1,390m), heading NW along Fanthams Peak Track.
09:30: Arrive Fanthams Peak (1,966m). Continue W to Syme Hut (1,960m). Morning Tea.
10:00: Depart Syme Hut (1,960m), heading WSW along Fanthams Peak Track.
12:00: Arrive Dawson Falls car park (890m). Free time!
12:30: Depart Dawson Falls car park.
18:0: Arrive Wellington
Always good to start the day with a sunrise – even if it’s a little later and between two cloud layers!
Kapuni Lodge is just off Fanthams Peak Track, about halfway between the Dawson Falls carpark and Syme Hut (if you take into account the change in gradient). As the cloud was clearing our leader decided we could head for Syme Hut for the morning – we already had no ambition for the summit on this trip.
The scree slopes are pretty tiring once the 528 steps run out, but afforded us some opportunities to pretend we were on a more epic adventure.
Unfortunately the clouds returned at Syme Hut, but we had a fine morning tea, sang the Tararua Ranges song – “We’ll all get lost and never come back, In the Tararua Ranges!” – and galloped down the scree slopes with Tereza leading the charge!
As we reached the Dawson Falls carpark the clouds over the peak cleared for the first time that day – of course.
A super trip full of laughs, putting the MUSICAL into the WT”M”MC – it’s time to clear the axes out of the gear store and make way for club ukuleles!