Aorangi Crossing with ‘our man Friday (Flyday?)’
Wed-Fri 1-3 June 2022
Two cars arrived at the Putangirua Pinnacles on Wednesday morning. After briefly considering splitting into two groups and swapping car keys at lunchtime on Thursday, we decided to keep to the original plan to stick together, so shuttled Lynne’s car to the Cape Palliser roadend.
The trip starts with two options for reaching the Pinnacles Lookout. We took the ridge option and three of us took the five-minute return trip to the lookout point (see photo). Thereafter the route carries on up and up. Lynne hung back later to be with cramp-affected David W, eventually catching up with nature photographer Celia and reaching Washpool Hut (1968) for a welcome cuppa provided by Susi, who had arrived earlier. Two interesting events that evening: David M putting his blow-up mat inside his sleeping bag and David W saying his mat was somehow longer than his tent.
Next day began with a sudden, steep climb, and then, after 500+ m, there was a sharp drop to the similar, orange Pararaki hut for a short lunch, just as a shower arrived. Another steep 300 m climb to a saddle and down Murphys Creek (Susi thumping her head on the way) to Kawakawa Hut, where David discovered that the two extra pegs were for extending his tent! The moreporks were again in full cry that night and the stars shone between the showers.
At 8:15 a.m. on Friday we set off up the valley, with rain forecast. There were no track signs at first but we understood it was three and a half hours to Mangatoetoe Hut, including a 100-150 m steep climb up around an old slip, then an easy one and a half hours to the road. After crossing Kawakawa (Otakaha) Stream, with the slip still 20 minutes away, there was a short yell. David M had stepped onto a large flat rock and his leg had slipped forward, pulling a hamstring. He fell and went into shock, unable to communicate for over ten minutes. There was some conjecture as to what the injury was and whether or not the fall was caused by a medical event. Before long David looked like a modern-day Egyptian mummy, albeit with a mini umbrella over him (do you carry one with your first aid kit?). After he came to and was well enough to feel discomfort, a short move to ‘more comfortable rocks’ (really?) was made, with his mat proving to be a great stretcher.
[Ed: See ‘Where’s the helicopter?’ for details of David’s air rescue – p.7 of July Tramper].
So after a three-hour delay we sped off, charging up the track by the slip and then sidling for ages, with orange markers in odd places on a track others have described as ‘thin’ (i.e. like an animal track). Finally we reached Mangatoetoe Hut at around 3:15 p.m. for a very brief stop before an easy walk out on various paths, with onga onga on both sides (wearing leggings and gloves is a good idea). Spot on 5 p.m. we made it out and lovely Lynette drove half of us back to the Pinnacles 😊
Everyone agreed they would not be repeating the route we had taken, but walking in to Mangatoetoe Hut from the road could be ‘acceptable’. All four huts are fairly spacious six-bunkers. There is a club trip in October and the trip can be done in two days if one is fit, stays upright, and can get an early start.
A lesson learned from this trip is to take advantage of the club’s InReach device when it's available (and consider taking a brolly!).
[Ed: David M says that he is ‘out of tramping for about six months due to a ruptured hamstring. Even if I can tramp by then, it will be in easier terrain.']
- Party members
- Karen Baker, Susi Lang, David McNabb, Janette Roberts, Celia Wade-Brown, Dave Wanty (scribe), Lynne White.