Auckland Baptist Tramping Club


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Thursday

We planned a 7pm departure from Bracken Ave for Putaruru overnight. Because of traffic delays leaving Auckland we had chosen to leave later than normal (although in fact we left 6.35pm) and not drive as far as Taupo, so that we would not be too late. This worked out well as we arrived at Putaruru 9.25pm.We were welcomed into a spacious church lounge (carpeted) where there was also heating. Large clean kitchen.

Friday

At 8am we departed Putaruru to travel to Turangi (9.50am), had coffee, left cars and got dropped off at the start at 11am. The carpark was crowded with about 15-20 vehicles – many of these likely to be hunters (it is the peak of the deer hunting season). We started our four hour tramp through lovely bush then across Mt Urchin where we had panoramic views of the central volcanos, Turangi and the Kaimanawas.  The first of our special Easter devotions was presented by Ali. After descending into the Waipakihi Valley we walked up the Waipakihi River for 15 minutes until we found a good grassy camping spot about 4pm. The club Zeus tent (2.2kg) was very suitable and roomy for two of us and the other four trampers had their own tents. It was a pleasant social evening eating and sitting around on some logs with our hot drinks before retiring early.

Saturday

By 8.20am we had packed up our tents and were ready to depart northward up the river valley to the Waipakihi Hut. Although the DOC estimate for this day is 6 hours, we took 8 hours including lunch and short stops. Again there was a clear blue sky and with the river running gently the valley was a beautiful sight. Paul gave an Easter devotion after lunch beside the river.

As expected we needed to cross the river many times. Often the river was deeper and so it was not always possible to walk in the river. Therefore we had to traverse the land alongside the river which unfortunately was often thick with scrub or forest. Sometimes we could identify trails, however, there were no DOC track markings and mostly no trail and no clearing of trees or scrub. I had tramped this route 30 years earlier and could not recall such problems with the trail. My memory of the detail is not clear but I suspect that 30 years ago there was much less forest and probably more grassland which was easier to access. Eventually the range on the eastern side of us tapered away opening out into a broad valley, with the hut visible in front of us on a low plateau and Junction Top visible to the east.

Waipakihi Hut is a standard 12bunk but there were already almost that many at the hut when we arrived – so much busier than my previous stays in the 1980s and 2001 when there was a distinct sense of isolation. Very graciously a group of 5-6 hunters volunteered to sleep on the veranda under a tarpaulin – which they said they like to do! More trampers arrived including 6 from the Auckland University Tramping club and several of these slept on the floor.

Sunday

We were awake early and some of us made a start at 7.30am with the others following soon after. On this day the morning mist did not clear due to some high cloud but we were fortunate that the forecasted rain and high winds did not eventuate. So the ascent and traverse along the Umukarikari Range was not difficult, although we were still needed extra layers and on this day and we missed the extensive views that we had on the previous two days. We ate lunch together and enjoyed a hot cuppa (courtesy of Phil and Bev) just before descending to the bush line. Everyone was out at the carpark by 2.30pm and we were able to call Don (Turangi Coachlines) so that he picked us up at 3pm (instead of 4pm planned). Our delight was to meet Peter and Val Osborne in the carpark. They were holidaying with family in Turangi and knew we would be coming out that afternoon.

Driving back to Taupo we got some takeaways and settled into Taupo Baptist Church. Two of us spent an hour in the De Bretts hot pools. We were fortunate to find mattresses at the church for a very comfortable night’s sleep.

Monday

By morning the predicted rain showers had finally begun. Departing Taupo around 8am we were all back in Auckland soon after midday.
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