Easter trip, Robsonís Lodge, Kuripapango.
March 28 Ė April 1, 2013
First and foremost it must be stated that this trip was remarkably well organised, and seamlessly run! Kuripapango is a hamlet in a deep valley in the Kaweka Range, now accessible on sealed road from Taihape. Initial difficulties might have been encountered had the leaders not provided clear directions to find Robsonís Lodge, carefully hidden behind locked gates, a herd of silent very black cows and in the midst of tall pine trees. Even those participants who arrived after dark rolled up to the Lodge without navigational difficulties. The accommodation was spartan, but the price of $22 per person for four nights was unbeatable. We were soon informed that the indoor toilet was not functioning, and any hot water would have to be heated using the wetback stove. Already, wood and coal had been organised and delivered by some of the participants, and hot showers were possible the following evening. The mattresses were sufficient for 14 people, but since the mattresses were too long to fit on the bunks, at least two people had to sleep on the floor or outdoors under the porch. Volunteers soon appeared wishing to sleep outside in the brilliant light of the full moon with the calls of the moreporks. The mice which obviously enjoyed the run of the kitchen were delighted by the sudden arrival of calories of all sorts. There was certainly more than enough food to go around!
The tramp on the first day involved the ascent of the Mount Kuripapango by all group members, and the stronger trampers continued on to Kiwi Saddle Hut. The weather was glorious, too hot for most of us, but who could complain? There were great views of Mount Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe in the distance, and multiple peaks and features of the Kawekas, including Cooks Horn, the Rogue, and the Tits. In comparison with the very parched hills to the west, grazed by scrawny sheep, these mountains were rather greener with both native bush and big areas of pine plantations. It was a real treat to spend time on the windless tops in the sunshine. Those who walked all the way to the Kiwi Saddle Hut returned tired and thirsty, but happy, to the Lodge at the end of the afternoon. Who would believe that we would have such warm windless days?
On the second day navigational difficulties presented themselves. There were two groups of seven trampers, intending to start at the Lakes Parking Lot or the Macintosh Parking Lot, and meet on the track or at Macintosh Hut for lunch. We never did meet! Even the latest topographical map bears little resemblance to the ground. Signage to indicate the final sections of trail to Macintosh Hut from the Lakes Parking Lot is non-existent. Two participants reached the former site of the Kaweka Hut (also no longer on the latest map), only to decide that there was no point in continuing since the left turn to Macintosh Hut was not signed at all. They descended and met up with the five others of their group who also determined to retrace their steps. Shortly thereafter, the group met up with a pair of hunters who informed them that the original track had been destroyed by a slip. The old track (closed off with a few logs) was tried, but was deemed to be too cliffy for safe passage. Disgruntled, the group descended to spend a few happier hours by the Lakes. Unfortunately, the Lakes were not swimmable, even by the most enthusiastic, because deep mud covered the receded banks. The depth of the mud was tested by some well aimed rocks. Meanwhile, the stronger group found their way to Mackintosh Hut after crossing the Tutaekuri River and climbing steeply out of the river valley. They returned via the old original track which has been officially closed by the slip. The use of g.p.s. navigation helped them to find their way to the old track, and safely down to the cars. On the return, two of this group were unfortunately stung by wasps which took the shine off an otherwise successful hike for those who reached Mackintosh Hut.
The final day of tramping took us to the Blowhard Bush Reserve which we all enjoyed thoroughly. Maintained by Forest and Bird, this reserve is full of surprising limestone outcrops and caves, huge matai and kahikatia trees, and good views. There were robins, bellbirds and fantails wherever there was water. We spent a couple of hours in Blowhard Bush before moving by car on a very dusty road to Lawrence Shelter. Instead of picnicking at the roadend, we all crossed over the Tutaekuri River on the swingbridge and walked up a lovely shaded track to the junction of Loftkow Road Trail and the track descending to the Donald River which intersects the Tutaekuri River. There we lingered over our sandwiches. Some of us then descended on this track to wade in the Donald and Tutaekuri rivers back to the cars, while others preferred to keep their boots dry and returned on the track by which they had come.
Rarely have weather, participants and mountains been so co-operative over an entire Easter weekend! The final cleanup of Robson Lodge was efficiently managed, and we were all on our way back to Wellington by 8:30 a.m.
- Party members
- Catalina Bruce, Paul Bruce, Barbara Camfield (scribe), Bob Cijffers (leader), Alan Graham, David Holland, Christine MacKenzie, Ray Markham, Liz Martin, Janet McMenamin, Helen Quinlan, Tricia Wallbridge