We set off to Hawkes Bay via a takeaway stop at Carterton, where we scattered in about five different directions to explore the smorgasbord of culinary options there.
We eventually got to the road end, at around 10pm. After a splash through the river, and taking a wrong turn, the GPS was consulted and we found the right track and made our way off private land and to a campsite at around 11pm.
After a drizzly and blustery night, the first day of autumn dawned clear and calm. We departed around 8am and made our way down the track for a bit then to the Makaroro River, where we split with the fit group, who were heading up to Sparrowhawk Biv. We started up the Makaroro River to Barlow Hut. After a couple of hours walking, we reached the hut. Barlow Hut is a very cosy and well maintained hut and would have a great spot for an afternoon in the sun. However, we still had a long way to go up the river, so had to make do with a snack and ten minutes.
I’ve never spent much more than a few hours walking up a river as I’d always found river travel a bit boring, and tended to avoid it as much as possible.
To my pleasant surprise, the Makaroro River is a real joy to walk up. There are plenty of deep pools and narrow gorges to keep things interesting. Most of the time, the river was never more than calf deep and the deepest parts in the gorges that we had to walk through were never deeper than the waist. The pools would have made for fantastic swimming spots had the weatherman’s forecasted 25 degree temperatures actually arrived.
We arrived at Upper Makaroro Hut at around 3pm, allowing for a pleasant couple of hours to be spent lazing and reading in the sun before dinner. Upper Makaroro is a beautifully preserved ex Forest Service Hut – very tidy inside and painted a fresh looking bright orange. As it was only a four bunker, Kevin and Fiona opted to camp outside by the river.If the pools and gorges weren’t impressive enough, there were plenty of massive slips and banks of logs to help one appreciate the power of Mother Nature.
We’d just finished a fantastic dinner of Moroccan Couscous when the Fit group arrived. Sarah maintained that this group should really be called the fast group because calling them the fit group implied that the medium group wasn’t fit. After we’d pinched all the bunks, much to Tim’s dismay, I think she’d decided to share this thought with him another day. Or until he reads this…
After a solid ten hour sleep and a chilly start the next morning to remind us that summer was over, we headed back across the river for the steep two hour grunt up the hill to Park Peaks hut. Although the day on the river was very pleasant, it was nice to be amongst the trees and not have to focus so much on where to place your feet. After appreciating the fantastically clear day and the views from the top across the Ruahines and Hawkes Bay, we stopped at the hut to refill our water bottles and scoff a few snacks.
A three hour walk down a mostly gentle ridge saw us back at the carpark. I stopped just before we reached the car to gorge myself on the ripe blackberries that lined the farm track.
Maarten had very cleverly placed a six pack of lemonade in the river and secured it to a tree at the beginning of the trip, and handed a cold can to each of us. What a hero!
All up, it was a very enjoyable and varied loop and a great weekend out in the hills.