A Visit to the Newly Rebuilt Toka Biv
20 – 21 September 2020
A trip to Toka Biv, at 1,520 m at the south-western end of the Ruahines, had been on the ‘to do’ list for several years. A recent article in FMC’s Backcountry about the reconstruction of the biv raised this potential destination up the list.
The date was set, and preparations made. At the last minute, a nasty turn of bad weather saw the trip being postponed by one day to avoid the worst of the wind and rain, and, coincidentally, the weekend rush.
We departed on Sunday 20th, arriving at the Limestone Road carpark around 10:15, in sun and little wind. There is a steady climb of about 900 metres to Toka Trig, initially through pleasant beech forest, then increasing amounts of horopito, mountain cedar and the ubiquitous leatherwood before reaching the reward of snowgrass and views. We stopped for lunch at about the 1,100 m mark, where we saw a group of six appear on the skyline (from Leon Kinvig hut, we think) and then traverse the tops to the alternative route out, the optimistically named Shorts Track.
After a very pleasant lunch (homemade sandwiches, filled with black cherry jam for Peggy, and honey and Fix and Fogg’s ‘Everything Butter’ for me) we continued on up to the trig.
We got to the top after about 2 hours 45 minutes, and headed north towards Toka Biv on an unmarked route, after passing the turnoff to Leon Kinvig hut. The posted time for this route was 1 hour 30 minutes, which surprised us as we were expecting a slightly easier trip to the bivvy site. The turnoff was marked by three waratahs that originally would have formed a signpost to the bivvy, an important marker as the bivvy is unsighted from the south.
A brutal descent of well over 250 metres finally saw us arrive at the site at about 15:15, 4.5 hours after leaving the carpark. The new bivvy is an exact replica of the original, sitting in the same boggy location.
The loo is a roofless box, painted DOC green, complete with a classy wooden toilet seat locked down with a carabiner. It enjoys great views, no privacy, and fantastic ventilation.
The bivvy is a joy to occupy and we had a pleasant evening doing a crossword from a 2014 DomPost supplement left there, and enjoying a beef bourguignon dehy stew complemented with a plastic cup of red wine.
The weather deteriorated overnight, and after breakfast in bed we retraced our route to Toka Trig in near zero visibility and gusting nor westerlies. For some variety, we descended via Shorts Track, which took another 30 minutes but offered us in return some intriguing views of very low cloud and damp snowgrass.
Time out: About 4 hours 15 minutes. (CM)
- Party members
- Peggy and Chris Munn (scribe)