Author Topic: Humphries via Whangamomona  (Read 143 times)

Humphries via Whangamomona
« on: March 31, 2018, 02:23:02 PM »
The highlight of bagging some peaks is more in the experiences along the way rather than actually doing the climbing. One example is Hobson on Great Barrier (although that is a spectacular peak in it’s own right). Humphries would be another one.

This would have to be one of the most remote on the list I’ve ticked off so far. It was a long 3.5 hour drive south from Hamilton, taking in the windy but scenic ‘Forgotten World Highway’ along the way to The Republic of Whangamomona where I stayed that night. This beautiful and historic little village declared its independence after government shifted the local boundaries which effectively split the district into two. This did not sit well with the locals who declared themselves a Republic back in 1988. The fiercely fought presidential elections are held in January every two years, during which the towns population swells from 40 to 5000.

The first president held office for 10 years before retiring. Unfortunately the second president ‘Billy the Kid’ only survived the position 18 months when he died in active duty - weedeating on the town hillside. Tai, the pub poodle, was duly elected in 2003, unfortunately there was an assasination attempt on his life and he was forced to retire, after which the Vice President (his owner) was sworn in.

Passports can be purchased at the hotel to ensure safe passage through the Republic.

I stayed at the lovely village campground in the old schoolground. Turn left at the pub and it’s just down the road (tent sites $10, cabins $20). An old, but very well kept campground which is obviously lovingly maintained by the local community. From here it’s another hours very windy drive to the start of the track, taking in another cool drive-through tunnel on the way.

The unusual thing about this track is that it is almost entirely flat the whole way. It follows the road that was started but never completed when WWI broke out. This is the beginning of the Matemateaonga track which finishes at the Whanganui River with the famous ‘Bridge to Nowhere’. The sister bridge to this one - 'The Bridge to Somewhere’ is just a bit further down the road to the start of this walk and worth a look if you have time.

The track itself is easy going and well formed. I found the surface is mostly dry, but there is also quite a lot of mud in patches along the way. These weren’t too difficult to avoid (shoes were fine) but there were long stretches of them in places, and I would suspect this track turns into a bit of a mud-fest in the winter.

After a couple of hours walking in bush, stumbling upon the National Park sign in a seemingly random spot on the way was a surprise. It was almost a relief to reach the Humphries track junction and actually go uphill for a change. A steep scramble up and then along a bit before reaching the much anticipated trig. Long sweeping views around a good 200 degrees. It was an unusual sight to see the Tongariro peaks in one direction, with Taranaki out the other - both the same distance away with you centred in between them. Easy to spot Edgecumbe and the flat topped Hikurangi in the centre, and I could even pick out Pirongia and Karioi way off in the distance out to the left.

The walk was a nice little leg-stretch, taking me just over 2.5 hours each way. Could have done with some hills though! It was so flat that the lungs couldn’t get going and the legs felt flat accordingly.
'There is always a risk in being alive, and if you are more alive, there is more risk' -Ibsen