Our long weekend tramp at Queen’s Birthday Weekend visited the Tongariro National Park area. Our group
comprised 18 persons, including two newcomers – Carlos and Heather. This was one of the largest groups
for some time to undertake a long weekend excursion. Each person had the option of self-catering (10
chose to do so) or group catering (8 chose to do so):|
Accommodation on Friday
night was at the Tokaanu Lodge Motel, which had thermal mineral pools on site for a late-night dip. Our
group trickled in throughout the evening in six vehicles coming from Auckland and Tauranga. We had a
briefing at 9pm which included our first reflection based on the opening phrase of Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust
in the Lord with all your heart", which Phillip compared with Power of Attorney. Most took advantage
of the hot pools.
On Saturday we undertook an easy walk of 5.25 hours from the
Mangahuia campsite on SH47 to Whakapapa Village. The weather was overcast and cloudy, obscuring the summits
of the mountains, but it did not rain. We set off at 9.45 a.m. The first couple of hours were on a fairly
good, underused track which had some wet areas with boardwalk. The track headed almost due north, parallel
to the Mangahuia Stream. After crossing this stream, there was a bit of a climb to the junction with
the Whakapapa-Whakapapaiti Hut track, then some minor undulations as we swung west towards the Chateau,
arriving mid-afternoon. En route we paused for our second reflection, based on the second phrase in Proverbs
3:5-6: "Do not lean on your own understanding" – because it has limitations and only God sees the big
Saturday night was spent in the backpacker section of the Skotel Alpine Resort in Whakapapa
Village. We occupied bunk rooms with shared bathrooms. The Skotel had full kitchen facilities, but everyone
decided to utilize the restaurant on Saturday evening.
Unfortunately Diana picked
up a vomiting bug overnight and it was necessary to drop her at the Mangatepopo School Camp to rest while
the remainder of us walked.
Weather conditions were not amenable to crossing the Tama Saddle,
so it was decided to undertake an alternative 4-5 hour, 11km, out-and-back walk along the Tupapakurua
Falls track just west of the village of National Park. The walk took us a lookout point with views towards
Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu, then on to the remote Tupapakurua Falls. Tupapakurua Falls plummet to the
valley floor in splendid isolation, amidst regenerating podocarp forest. There is a wonderful diversity
of plant and tree species with good stands of tawa, mature rimu, miro and totara. In recent years a joint
venture between DoC and the local community have upgraded this track and it now presents easy walking
along a well-graded, benched and substantially metalled trail through beautiful forest all the way to
the Falls Lookout.
The weather was overcast and cool, but there was very little rain and the forest
sheltered us from occasionally strong gusts of wind. The track began at the Fishers Road carpark, with
an easy 20 minute walk to the Taranaki Lookout with a view towards Mt Taranaki, and views back to Mt
Ruapehu and Hauhungatahi. Unfortunately these peaks were obscured by cloud. From this point the track
followed a ridge and then descended steeply about 230m down to a stream. Conditions were slippery in
places. Climbing back up from the stream, the track wound its way around bluffs with beautiful forest
views and good lookout points to the waterfall.
After a couple of hours we reached the small Falls
Lookout, where we paused for lunch. After lunch, seven ventured further down a more demanding, unmaintained
track into the canyon and the base of the falls. We returned via the same track, with many stops to photograph
fungi. Our post-walk reward was coffee at the Macrocarpa Café in National Park, prior to driving to the
Mangatepopo School Camp to spend the night. About a dozen took the opportunity to pop over to Tokaanu
for a swim in the public hot pools before dinner.
During the evening. Phillip led our third reflection
based on the third phrase in Proverbs 3:5-6, namely "In all your ways acknowledge him" – not just in
a moment-by-moment awareness of his presence, but also standing up for him in public contexts. It rained
After breakfast we concluded our reflections with the final
promise in Proverbs 3:5-6: "and he will make your paths straight" (KJV: "direct your paths" If we meet
the three previously-explored conditions, God will provide a way through bends and obstacles in our life
journey, and provide clear guidance.
It was decided to undertake the Lake Rotopounamu track, which
circles a beautiful lake surrounded by native forest and is a special favourite of tree lovers, birdwatchers,
and families. It is a 2-hour, 6.4km loop, beginning on SH47 at Te Pohanga Saddle. Lake Rotopounamu fills
a crater nestled into the western side of Mount Pihanga. It is nine metres deep and covers one square
kilometre. The name of the lake comes from the Maori words 'roto' (lake) and 'pounamu' (greenstone).
Beginning opposite the parking area, the track climbed gently uphill to the track junction. To walk
around the lake, we turned right and followed a short section of gravelled track before dropping down
towards Five Minute Beach. Here a broad tree stump provided a good spot to view the lake. Later Long
Beach swept along the eastern side of the lake and was an ideal spot for a rest stop. There was a toilet
The track continued to the northern shore, where three of the lake's four tributary streams
entered the lake. Continuing on, we passed Ten Minute Beach and soon returned to the track junction.
From here it was downhill to the carpark, arriving at 11 a.m. after a pleasant leisurely walk. It was
then time to say our goodbyes and hit the road back to our hometowns.
COST: $200 for those who
opted for group catering, $180 for those who opted for self-catering. Transport component: $75pp.