Ruahines, Ngamoko Hut.
Waitangi Weekend, 4th Feb 2017
The idea that Cathy had in mind for this trip was indeed a good one: up Shorts Track, along the main ridge, and down to Ngamoko Hut. Then up the river to Leon Kinvig Hut, up to the main range, over Toka, and down Knights Track. I would have no idea where we are talking about if I were to read this, yet knowing the experience of the TTC, I don’t think there’s a problem.
As I was saying, it was a good idea, yet the forecast of bad rain & wind, plus a full river, made us think otherwise. This turned the great idea into, well, an idea. Reality would be a trip in and out to Ngamoko Hut. Which by no means was unenjoyable.
The climb to the main ridge was quite steep, with a couple of rest stops to see us to the top. We were met with high winds, and the next two to three hours were quite an adventure, battling not only the wind but also the infamous Ruahine leatherwood. I found it especially fun to hold my jacket like a sail and lean into the wind, an activity which I have also found enjoyable on the northern walkway in high wind. Although exciting, being out in high wind drains your energy, and I don’t think anyone was complaining once we got out of it.
After leaving the tops, we started down towards Ngamoko Hut. The descent felt a lot longer than it should have, and the track hardly earned ‘DOC’ status, with multiple large tree-falls blocking the way. Once at Ngamoko and after an assessment of the river, the party decided that to continue with the original plan would be unenjoyable and dangerous, as even higher winds were forecast for the day on which we had planned to climb the ridge to get home. There were also other things that influenced our decision, such as the fact that Newtown School could have been without a teacher had we got stuck. Just picture it: “Good morning, class, today I will be your teacher as Janette has become stuck in the bush.” Don’t know what the five year olds would say to that. Yet I have an idea what the principal might. Anyway the decision was made to go out the next day.
That day we were treated to much better weather on the tops, assuring lovely views of the countryside compared with leatherwood and boots the previous day. A lunch spot was chosen with utmost care (“Oh dear, I sense a 3kph wind, let’s continue”) and eventually lunch was had. We rolled down Shorts Track in the blistering sun, and then found ourselves at the car. Just to make up the ‘holiday’ part of Waitangi Weekend, we stayed at the deerstalkers hut (now called the Alice Nash Memorial Heritage Lodge) for the last night, before making the return journey back to jobs (or no jobs) the next day.
- Party members
- Lois Buckrell, Russell Cooke, Janette Roberts, Dugal Thomson (scribe), John Thomson, Jude Willis, Cathy Wylie (leader)