Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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Twenty-two members of the Auckland Baptist Tramping Club had an enjoyable trip to the Volcanic Plateau 7-9 July. We explored little-known but spectacular locations, hidden away and not often visited.  The Club had not been to these locations for many years, if at all. The weekend was led by Phillip and Katrina. Accommodation was in heated cabins at Lake Taupo Christian Camp, Mission Bay (36 km south of Taupo). The staff at the camp went out of their way to be helpful, and the quality of the catering was superb. Since the name of our club newsletter is shortly to change, reflections were on the theme of “Fire” and “Cloud”.


We travelled from Auckland to our overnight destination at Lake Taupo Christian Camp. Phillip and Katrina came from Napier to rendezvous with several participants in Taupo for dinner. We held an early briefing at 9 p.m. (over supper) and the last vehicles arrived at the camp by 10.15 p.m.

Saturday (sunny with cold winds)

We departed after a sumptuous breakfast for a series of four walks:

Tree Trunk Gorge (Grade 1-2 Moderate, 1 hour 30 minutes).
We split into two groups of eleven, one (led by Katrina) starting from the northern end of the track at Kaimanawa Road and the second (led by Roger) starting at the southern end of the track at Tree Trunk Gorge Road. Both these roads are off the Desert Road, 15 and 20 km south of Turangi respectively. We swapped car keys when we met.There were 3-4 stream crossings on this walk, but these did not present any difficulty. It was a pleasant stroll through pretty forest with a well-benched track.

At Tree Trunk Gorge (viewed from the bridge on Tree Trunk Gorge Road, just before the carpark at the southern end of the track) the river surges through a narrow chute in a series of waterfalls and impassable rapids. These were a spectacular sight.
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At the northern end of the walk, each group also visited –

The Pillars of Hercules (Grade 1 Easy, 10 minutes). This is where the Tongariro River flows through a vertically walled slot in the ignimbrite rock. Regrettably just 2 months ago a new high bridge was built over this gorge, and the view of the pillars in considerably obscured by underlying foliage. However, a few ventured down the old track for a better view.
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After lunch at the Ketetahi Track roadend shelter, we proceeded to –

Te Pourere Historic Redoubt (Grade 1 Easy, 45 minutes). This redoubt (just off SH46) is where Te Kooti made his last stand against the British forces in October, 1869, the last battle of the Land Wars We visited both the lower and upper fortifications, and were impressed by their size and preservation. On the walk in we crossed the headwaters of the Wanganui River.
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Lake Rotopounamu (Grade 1 Easy, 20 minutes to the lake, 1 hour 30 minutes around the lake). This scenic gem on the edge of Mount Pihanga is notable for its greenstone colour and lack of any visible outlet. It is accessed from SH 47, the saddle road between Lake Rotoaira and Tokaanu. Walkers left the vehicles at 3.15 p.m. Two participants just went to the lake edge, but most walked right around the perimeter to emerge just on dusk..

We returned to the Lake Taupo Christian Camp for dinner at 5.30 p.m. It was a three-course dinner and the food was delicious. After dinner Phillip gave a reflection on the theme of “Fire” in the Bible – the occasions when it was encountered and its significance.

Most of the group then proceeded to the Tokaanu Hotpools for a welcome dip after our day’s exertions, while several remained to read and chat around a cosy fire at the camp. The camp staff arranged for a delayed screening of the Australia v. New Zealand rugby game, and a few hardy souls stayed up to watch.

Sunday (sunny with cold winds)

After breakfast and clean up, we travelled north to walk the Kinloch to Kawakawa Bay Walkway (Grade 1-2 Moderate, 4 hours return). Kinloch is 24 km from Taupo on the western shores of the lake. The walkway runs through Kawakawa Bay Scenic Reserve and Otaketake Scenic Reserve.  Large kamahi and magnificent rewarewa grow in abundance.  

After a brief stroll along the beach, we began to ascend to a lookout on the edge of a broad bluff (1 hour 40 minutes) for lunch. There were wonderful views over Kawakawa Bay and the wider lake. The Tongariro mountains were visible on the horizon. Katrina gave a reflection on the theme of “Cloud” in the Bible - the occasions when it was encountered and its significance. Three walkers ventured further down to Kawakawa Bay, but most turned back to the carpark.
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As a quiet contrast to the busy bays around Taupo, this picturesque walk is well worth a visit.

Between 2.30 and 3 p.m., cars left from Kinloch for the return journey to Auckland or (in some cases) other parts of the North Island.

COST: $100. This included transport ($30), accommodation ($40), and meals ($30: Friday supper to Sunday lunch, except BYO lunch for Saturday), but not the entrance fee to the hotpools ($5). Those who found there own way to and from Taupo paid $75, of which $5 was for transport to and from the walks.