Waiorongomai Hut

A leisurely 9am departure from platform 9, along with the Papatahi Crossing group. Our first stop was delivering that group to their start point, but because we had plenty of time and only a short walk to Waiorongomai hut, we headed to the Putangirua Pinnacles for a walk. On the way, we stopped for coffee at the Land Girl café at Pirinoa.

The start of the Waiorongomai track is just north of the junction of Western Lake Road with the Waiorongomai River, and a short, easy drive through the farm to a picnic area (with a long drop).

We began tramping at about 2.30pm and expected the walk to take 2 to 2.5 hours. The river crossings began after about one minute of tramping. There were several rope-assisted descents and ascents along the way. The river crossings ranged from sloshing through ankle-deep water to knee-deep with a faster flow. No avoiding wet boots on this trip; I counted 30 ‘crossings’ each way, though these included walking up the river IN the river.

First river crossing.
Walking up the Waiorongomai River.

The track is well marked and pretty easy going, not too steep or challenging. But with one exception, about mid-way we had to climb and sidle along a steep section, which some found quite challenging. Apparently it’s possible to avoid this altogether if the river level is low; just stick to the river.

The Tricky Climb.
Tramping through the forest.
A river crossing.
Arriving at the hut.

We took two and a half hours to reach the hut. Waiorongomai hut is a ‘basic’ four-bunk hut – and it’s free. Faster groups might do the journey in one and half to two hours. There’s a good clearing for camping around the hut but we decided that we’d sleep in the hut, four on the bunks and two on the floor, along with all the packs. After dinner, two women arrived. They weren’t prepared for camping so we loaned them a tent and mats.

Leaving Waiorongomai hut on Sunday.

On Sunday, we left the hut at 8am in cooler, windier conditions and retraced our route, arriving back at the van at 10.10am. Then off to Featherston for a coffee stop and an early arrival in Wellington (though Monique later went to the Catchpole carpark to pick up the Papatahi Crossing team). A very nice trip to a lovely area, and the hut wasn’t as ‘rustic’ as expected.

Walking through the bush.
Back at the Picnic Area.

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