The normal week is pretty busy with school, sports, friends and jobs. Organising the kids for an overnight tramp just adds on top of everything. All of a sudden, the shoes and the fleece were too small and need replacing, and wearing Dad’s old gear isn’t cool anymore. Finally two funerals on the Friday for a good mate and Saturday for a close older family friend made it the week from hell.
So my son, his good buddy and I got off to a late warm sunny Saturday afternoon start from Catchpool. The rest of the party had left hours before us. After extracting vague promises from the lads to stick together and wait for me at Turere bridge the boys took off excitedly, galloping up the hill despite the weight of their packs.
After the week’s craziness, the opportunity to meander along an easy track in relative silence was a welcome relief to work through long ignored thoughts and emotions. The last time I’d walked this track a couple of months ago, my good mate had come along. We talked of beer, the eternal struggle of good and evil that is the Hurricanes v Crusaders, and the benefits of kids doing risky things in the outdoors.
Having met up with the boys again at Midway, they pleaded for chocolate then bounced ahead again wanting to muck around at the river before it got dark. The walk along the river to the hut was short but sweet with the setting sun briefly painting the main range gold.
The rest of the party already had the fire going, short work was made of cooking chicken satay on rice before making s’mores for desert. Soon it was bedtime for young ones while the two older boys experimented with making lava lamps from drink bottles for some hut ambience.
In the morning after breakfast the kids were looking for something to do so off they went on a grand firewood expedition. Of course several pieces had to be cut down to size using the axe. We hung around the hut until after lunch, the kids busy exploring the valley before returning back to the car.
Paua hut is perfect for a first-time overnight tramp for kids. An easy walk of just the right length to feel like an adventure but not too far if you have to give a shoulder ride back out to the car. The hut provides well-appointed accommodation meaning when you have to carry your gear plus one or several sets of kid’s gear the burden is not unmanageable. The hut has a swing, a river, a forest full of sticks and a valley full of stones. 3-4 years olds walking take about 3.5 hours Catchpool carpark to hut along the river track, while 12 year boys egging each other on in a race take under an hour.