Mokopuna on the maunga
In defiance of the weather gods, a group of three koro and kuia and six mokopuna travelled to Tararua Lodge in the second week of the April school holidays. I think it is fair to say that the gods reached a reasonable compromise with us; sweeping low cloud that came and went at irregular intervals, the occasional drizzle and some blue skies to keep us happy. One moment we would be gazing out of the window in awe of the rock-strewn landscape and then it would all disappear. But if we timed it right, we could hurry down to the car park without being drenched and then drive a short distance to get below the cloud, where we enjoyed a couple of walks.
Our first venture was along a pleasant bush track to Silica Rapids, with a stop on the way to examine the orange rocks in the river and determine the drinkability of the water.
Next day we devised various plans, which changed by the minute as we made our way down to the car park. Walk to Taranaki Falls then go to the thermal pools at Tokaanu? A good wet weather option to use up lots of energy, of which there seemed to be an abundance – on the children’s part at least. But a long way to drive. Walk to Taranaki Falls and beyond? Rather a tough call for some of our charges!
Fate intervened; the clouds dispersed and we saw the SkyWaka gliding up the mountain. Just a maintenance trip we thought, and we decided to investigate whether we could have a free ride. But then the children noticed passengers in some of the cabins and, according to their logic, we could definitely have a ride. The adults had a brief discussion and decided to swallow the bitter pill of tourist prices and away we all went.
It was probably a highlight of the trip to see the great outdoors from above, and all so effortlessly! The weather was clear and so we hopped out at the top and explored the slopes, had morning tea and took note of the routes to the crater for another time. Some children scrambled up rocky tracks whilst others attempted to change the course of a stream. And then the cloud started to come down again … where were the children?? Shadowy figures emerged from the murk and quickly made their way back to base. Our return trip down the mountain was made in a whiteout.
Fortunately the sun shone down by the Chateau and we had a great walk to Taranaki Falls, which the children dashed behind for a free shower.
Back to the lodge again; we used a different route each time we went up or down (no, we weren’t lost!) and by the last day the children were adept at finding their own way. The grandparents lagged behind, like laden packhorses.
We did our best to decrease the volume of old food stock at the lodge, making generous portions for our evening meals. The pleasure of having leftover spaghetti bolognese for breakfast cannot be overestimated! Chris excelled himself in making apple crumble and custard one night and jelly the next, whilst Lynne provided the now traditional ginger cake.
The children remarked on how different the mountain looked without snow and enjoyed exploring the rocky crags, discovering caves, generally messing around outside the lodge and, possibly, even tramping. On our way home, we discovered the Mint Café in Bulls – chips or wedges, anyone? Easy parking, and our crew were very happy. Thanks to Warren for taking the lead in driving the van.
- Party members
- Chris Munn, Lynne (scribe) and Warren White with Lucy and Zac Blundell, Harry Foo, Cato and Mila Fraser and Olly Munn.