Friday, 2 January 2015

Day 59. Makahika Outdoor Centre to Nichols Hut.

Today 31 km, 2550 m ascending,  1800 m descending.  Total 1559 km (+12). 13 hours 15 minutes (0730-2045).

Today I decided that I wanted a tough workout so I set my sights on getting to Nichols Hut which was 30 km away.  Normally this would be a sure thing but 25 of these km were in the Tararua Ranges which is known for tough tracks and wild weather.

I left the Makahika Outdoor Centre just after 0730 and it was a 5 km road walk to the track start.  As I turned off the main road there was a sign warning not to go into the Tararuas alone. After a chuckle at this I continued to the carpark.

Interesting place beside the road

This sign has been put up due to the number of people who die or need rescue in the Tararuas

I was passed by Sally and John who were dropping Arne and Lena off at the track start.  They were just leaving as I arrived.  I filled in the Intentions Book and went through the shoe scrub and disinfect routine.

I was on my way just after 0830 and got to the Waiopehu Hut 2 hours 55 minutes later.  The track was in good condition with only a few drying boggy patches near the top. It was a steady climb that would have a steep bit followed by an easy bit which let me catch my breath.  On the way I passed Arne and Lena as they were talking to another tramper.

Farmland start

Heading up

Great track

Breaking out of the bushline

I love the big climbs like this as you can see the vegetation change at different altitudes.

I had a 15 minute break and refilled my water bottles before continuing to the next Hut. Just past the hut was the turnoff to the toilet and on the ground at this junction was a large Weta. I did my good deed for the day by moving the Weta off the track to save the Weta from being stood on and to stop it giving a fright to other trampers - potentially messy when they are on the way to the toilet.

Waiopehu Hut

View from the Hut balcony

Weta at the junction

View from the Hut toilet

The track heading to the next Hut

The hill I have just come down is behind me

And after climbing again now back down again

Descending through the bush

Te Matawai Hut

I reached Te Matawai Hut in 2 hours 15 minutes (hut to hut). Just past From this hut it was a big climb up to Mt Pukematawai. Parts of this climb were a little exposed and required hands on rocks and roots to pull myself up.  Warning to anyone scared of heights you will get an adrenalin hit. The junction near the top was only 50 metres from the summit so I climbed the extra bit to bag the peak - giving a yell of exhilaration as I summited which I later found out was heard by other people.

It had been overcast most of the morning but was starting to clear and from the top I had moments of great views in between the clouds blowing past.

Good signage at junctions

The track was getting steeper

Looking back. The red dot in the middle is Te Matawai Hut. Waiopehu Hut is just visibly on the far ridge just right of centre

Climbing is hard work

Still to climb and this is not even the summit,  this is behind in the clouds


Lovely mountain flower

And tiny plants

And steeper

Where I have come this morning

And steeper

Panorama from just below the clouds

From the sumit of Mt Pukematawai looking at the trail junction

Once back down at the junction it was a descent that was easier than the way up and I followed the open tops for a while before descending to the bush to Dracophyllum Hut (3 hours 20 minutes from Te Matawai Hut). This is a cute 2 bunk hut which was occupied by the rare Kiwi TA tramper.  There were two guys older than me called Fred and Nev. They were great to chat with and they gave me tea and Gingernut Biscuits.  This meant I stayed longer than I intended (35 minutes).

Looking at the ridgeline I followed. I was on it all the way to just to the highest point on the skyline

Tiny flowers

Open tops does not mean easy trail

Dracophyllum Hut is in the bush on this ridgeline

Dracophyllum Hut with Fred and Nev

It was then more bush travel through what I call goblin forest due to the twisty trees and thick moss. There were two brief climbs above the bush line and the descent from the second was steep, exposed and slippery due to loose rock.

I arrived at the hut as the sun was dropping meaning beautiful colours on the mountains and clouds.  I arrived at Nichols Hut 2 hours 15 after leaving the last hut at 2045. This was a long day and a tough physical day as I had hoped.  I was pleased with how I went and could have kept going if needed.

I love the colours of the vegetation

Sunlight on the trees

What I call Goblin Forest


Sunset light on the hills I travelled today

Nichols Hut

View from Nicols Hut toilet

Night 59

Nichols Hut is a 6 bunk hut just down from a ridge overlooking a beautiful valley. I was very happy to have the place to myself as I imagined other people would have been a bit grumpy at me turning up so late.

I cooked dinner and crashed. 

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