Tutuwai Hut via Mount Reeves

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Tuesday evening before the tramp. I was supposed to be leading a Medium trip to Kime on the coming weekend but unfortunately one signed up. Thankfully, Paul Jefferies was leading an overnight tramp to Tutuwai and as there was space I decided to join Paul’s trip.

Friday 17.00. At this point on a weekend tramp I would normally be rushing to the station to make sure that I was there on time. However, with Paul’s trip not leaving until the Saturday morning this gives time to go for a run in the evening before packing my backpack.

20.00 At this point I am thinking that Paul is a genius and that leaving Saturday morning is a great idea. Plenty of time to pack your bag on Friday night leaving Thursday free to do other things.

Saturday 05.30. My Alarm goes off. Struggling to wake up and get out of bed I am thinking that maybe leaving Saturday morning is not such a great idea. I manage to get out of bed and am looking forward to a good day in the Tararuas.

06.45 My backpack packed I leave my flat and head for the station. Five minutes later I start thinking about what I needed to take on the tramp and remember that Paul said something about 100g of rice.

7.00 Arrive at the station and say hello to everyone. Check if anyone has excess rice. Nobody does. I head to New World to see what rice they sell. Meet Mika in the rice isle at New World. Her and Hans also forgot to bring rice and we agree to team up and buy 500g together.

7.15 I met my fellow trampers for the weekend and introduce myself to the trampers that I do not know. We leave an overcast Wellington.

09.00 We arrive at the road end. Take the obligatory group photo. Mika suggests that by the end of the weekend we need to find out and remember everyone’s name and what they do for a living. We start to climb the hill at around 9.30. A few people are keen to do a side trip once we reach the top of Mt Reeves. Therefore we split in to two groups. I head up in the first group which will do the side trip along with Mika, Dave and Hans.

12.15 We are making good time reach the top of Mt Reeves. It’s a bit windy but there are some great views of the Wairarapa and for the first time in my life I have been in the Tarauras and been able to see some of the rest of the Tararuas.

We decide to do the route along the spur that will lead us to Cone hut. So we leave a note for Paul to confirm our intentions. Hans goes off to find the start of the track and to see if there are any markings. We stop for a quick break but decide to find somewhere more sheltered for lunch.

12.45. We managed to find a route and it had been marked by hunters. All was going well. We were heading north and the route started to head to the south west. We knew that we had to head off of the ridge that we were on to head North West at some point but where unsure as to whether we were far enough along the ridge. We stop to question whether the track is heading where we want to go or heading down a spur to Tutuwai.

We looked around to see whether the track had split. We could not see any alternatives however the bush was not too thick so it was easy not to be using the track. We check the altimeter that Hans has. If it is correct then we are not far enough along the ridge to start taking a turn off. We decide that the best thing to do is just to keep to the ridge and not follow the track.

13.05 About 20 minutes later we find a high point above the bush to check where we are. Thankfully being a clear day we were able to see the ridge and over to Waiohine River. We workout that we have actually gone too far along the ridge and that we need to cut across the valley. We take a bearing and have to do some bushbashing to get over there.

14.00 Thankfully we manage to get back to the ridge that we need to be on. We find a track. Could this be the one that we were on earlier but decided to leave? We followed the track. The next couple of hours consisted of walking for a bit then someone shouting “has anyone seen track marker recently” then we realised that we had lost it and then we spend 5 minutes looking around to find it.

1600 We finally get to the DOC track to Cone. Pleased at this point to know exactly where we are. We make good time down to Cone hut. We arrive at Cone just before 5. A quick bite to eat at Cone then we head along the track to Tutuwai. It is flat and easy going with only the occasional mud pool to avoid.

18.00 It was just getting dark. There were a few other groups there but luckily there is still enough bunks free.

19.30 Paul cooked an excellent evening meal and we got chatting to the other groups in the hut. Andy mentioned that with so many people in the hut that it would be a warm night. I pointed out that he should have put his name down for my trip to Kime and we would not be having this problem.

Sunday 9.00 We leave the hut. It had rained over night and the rain was still intermittent when we left. It took us a couple of hours to reach the top of Mt Reeves again. The weather was slightly clearer today and there were amazing views of the Wairarapa out to the sea. We continued down the hill discussing what various side trips could be done and whether Mt Reeves would make a good day walk. Having mastered everyone’s names yesterday, I manage at this point to find out the occupations of people that I have not already learned.

2.30 We make it back to the van. Paul’s suggestion of a cafe stop in Greytown was well received and we headed there for some carrot cake before heading back to Wellington.
Overall a great overnight tramp.

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