Trip Reports
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1  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Kohukohunui / New Viewing Platform at Summit of Kohukohunui Date: August 17, 2011, 01:25:22 AM
Rumours were true; a brand new viewing platform does exist situated right next to the summit trig. It definitely upgrades this peak in terms of excitement and reason for doing (or maybe that then is actually a downgrade as the reason for doing it used to be that there was no good reason to do it???)

I have been up here well over 10x now over the last 2-3 years and this was a very enjoyable day trail running.  A lot of work has been done on the track and you are now able to easily avoid 90% of the mud that the top section of this track was famous for.  Even the very boggy pools of mud near the summit are now bridged with board walk and stairs also take care of most of the slippery hill sections

The day we were up there (Aug 14 2011) was the day before the snow came in.  Even so it was very cold, windy and blustery showers so it meant with kids a bit of care was required in climbing the ladder but all good.

Lunch at the hut avoided the only notable shower as we dodged incoming weather all day

Geocache bagged too and I didn't see Guanos name in the log book. How can you sleep at night dude with that on your mind?

Video of our trip up here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq7_T-6uTD0
2  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Tongariro, Mt / Tongariro Video Date: April 26, 2011, 04:14:10 PM
A clip from our recent explore around Mt Tongariro.  The aim was to see snow and perhaps do a summit.  However with two little ones in tow and the weather pretty stormy (despite a favourable forecast) and deteriorating we retreated a little earlier than we hoped.  This clip though does give you an idea why jeans and a t shirt isn't best attire.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iH0vw8phBv8
3  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Zion, Mt / Mt Zion Picture Date: April 25, 2011, 03:49:17 PM
Took a picture from further up the hillary trail today down toward karekare and Mt Zion which is the rather rounded "peak" here which shows itself as the highest point on the horizon
4  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Kaitarakihi / Kaitarakihi Date: February 20, 2011, 08:26:22 AM
I think I have already written this one up?  ;D
5  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Karangahake / Karangahake Date: February 20, 2011, 08:24:32 AM
I think I posted a trip report on this  ;D
6  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Hauturu / Hauturu Date: November 08, 2010, 03:38:57 PM
This was my first hike of any note for months as I spent a winter running.  Guano was keen to tick this peak off and some company on these hikes no doubt appreciated even if it is in the form of a mortal.

We headed up to the remote bag Hauturu after exploring Tokatoka Peak and Maungaraho Rock on the way up.  The mission was also to carry on and explore Te Raupua which is listed as a “possible” as sits further along the same range. Access was gained from Waiotemarama Gorge Road.  Just after a bridge a few minutes up the road on the right is a car park.  The track itself has no signage for Hauturu and because of the existence of a loop track I was wondering if we were in the right place.   I need not have worried.

So a 7am set off. The track heads straight into the bush and after a little while you come down to a stream and a waterfall, cross the stream and start heading upward.  Not long after the Kauri trees really start to impress and a fork in the track appears.  It doesn’t matter here which way you take as both tracks rejoin further up but I would recommend left as you head up which seems to be the best option for viewing a large number of moderate to large Kauri, or of course one way up and take the other back.  The Kauri are really quite impressive, and would be a good walk for those not so keen to take on the peaks.  As the altitude increases the track gets steeper and rougher and the Kauri fade away.  The second half of the track especially will test your fitness going up (not too bad for me) and your balance on tired legs coming down (not so good for me).  This was the worst section of the trip

Before Hauratu you break out onto the main ridge and there are a number of spots where good views can be had before the peak. We reached Hauturu Trig after about 2 hours.  There are no views from the trig at all though a lookout track extends on a few more metres past the trig to give some limited views out across the range from the edge of a bluff.

Our next target was Te Raupua which is Northlands highest peak at 781m asl.  It looked a long, long way off and the “encouraging” sign told us it was 4.5 hours away.  I imagined rough nasty up and down terrain draining every ounce of life from me.  After making the somewhat painful decision to continue on we dropped very steeply off Hauratu but then surprisingly the track became excellent.  One could even walk upright without ducking and weaving and the travel was fairly flat and fast.  We were making good speed so smiles returned.  After another 2 hours we reached the “roof of Northland” which is just a sign in the bush reminiscent of Te Toiokawharu in the Waitakeres. There are no views at all and as the top of the peak is pretty flat there is no really chance of making any.

We had an early lunch at 11am pretty happy with our travel. Our trip back was even more interesting as we discovered the famous Kauri snails.  First I found a full shell in lovely nick, then many broken ones and finally best of all Guano found a live one just crawling along on leaf litter on the side of the track.  Wow they are big and very impressive.  I would imagine this would be a creepy crawly dreamland for those so inclined.  Everything up there is “big”.  I even saw a spider web which was a definite large funnel.  Looked like the type of thing you didn’t want to meet the owner of.

The pinch back up to Hauratu was steep and exhausting (for me – walk in park for Guano. Some say that he levitates up slopes).  The trip down off Hauratu was annoyingly rough and steep on fatigued legs.  However the Kauri trees were reached and served as a pick me up as we strolled through the most magnificent stand of trees I have ever seen.  They are truly awe inspiring. Back down to the lower sections and out to the carpark at 4:30pm

All up 8.5 hours, 24.5km and about 1650m total ascent.

My opinion on Te Raupua is as the highest point in the region it should be a bag.  It would be a long day.  Although the summit is somewhat uninspiring there are definitely plenty of things to keep the interest up along the way.  The track from Hauturu is good. Hauturu as a hike alone is almost slightly too short.

7  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Urchin / Urchin Date: March 13, 2010, 11:35:51 AM
An accessible peak in the Kaimanawas, less than 30 mins drive from the dead town of Turangi. I can see this as a stunning there and back winters hike. A bit of snow, the mountains under the white stuff...all good.

First thing I noted is the road to urchin is pretty rough. not extreme but a 4wd or 4wd style vehicle will be a great option. leave your Ferrari Enzo, lowered Jap import or shoppiung basket at home.

Second thing is I will add my opinion on the Umukarikari-Urchin loop circuit.  I reckon do them as seperate trips unless you have a cunning pick up/ drop off option or something.  The road section between the two track starting points is long, windy and i would suggest it would drive you mad.  it doesn't look pleasant travel. Looks further than 5km to me too

The actual track to urchin summit is very well maintained.  We actually saw some DOC guys doing up the lower track.  The upper track is very well formed, even and a joy to travel on.  Occassionally there are bits of nasty bush lawyer hanging out on to the track trying to grab you but you can easily avoid its clutches if you keep your eye out.

This was the 4th days hiking for us in a row so we took this relatively short climb as a relaxed pace.  It took us about an hour before we first saw urchin summit through the bush and another 30 minutes to reach the summit. The last 5 minutes is on open tops to the trig.  Some great views but it would be even better on a 100% clear day where the mountains would be right in your face.
8  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Fantham's Peak / Fanthams Peak Date: March 13, 2010, 11:34:35 AM
Bagged on a super day, stayed the night at Symes.  The weather gave us an extremely rare two completely clear days on the mountain.  People that know that place will know how seldom that occurs!!

The track starts at the visitors centre with about an hours hike through the bush climbing steadily passing a memorial to sir ed and the hooker shelter.

breaking out into scrubland the climb enters a long long series of stairs. As you hit the tussock slopes another big long staircase sees you to the bottom of the scree.

We kept to the right where the ground was a bit firmer.  The slope gets steeper and is in a similar vein to the taranaki climb before easing a bit right near the top.  a well poled rote sees you across to symes hut. Fanthams peak itself is a small climb up the western of the 3 outcrops that edge the cone. The footprint of the old symes hut can be seen on the way to the very top.

Took us 3.5 hours up with big packs

9  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Umukarikari / Umukarikari and an attempt on Makorako Date: February 22, 2010, 03:56:12 AM
This was a hastily put together trip and as I had no chance of getting Monday off work, it necessitated us putting together a plan to attempt to climb Makorako in two days return.  The plan was an ambitious task of hiking in over Umukarikari and bagging this unroute to Waipakahi Hut. We would then climb up over Junction Top, down to the Rangatikei River, up to the tops again and around a long ridge to Mokorako, then return to the Hut for the night before hiking out the next day.

Our night before at Turangi cabins was interesting as we had three sightings of a ghost of an old Chinese man.  One at 1100pm where I saw him standing in the ablutions block brushing his teeth extremely slowly.  Guano then also spotted him in the kitchen at 300am in the morning making toast in the dark before again seeing him silently and slowly brushing his teeth at 330am in the ablutions block again.  So we are both now believers.

Anyway at 430am we started hiking from the Umukarikari carpark with headlamps on.  The gradient was a lot more pleasant than Mangaweka as we made our way upward through bush under headlamp light. Underfoot was a good surface, it was easy enough to navigate too. After about an hour we broke out onto the tops. Not long afterward the sky began to lighten to reveal Sharpe Cone in the distance. Soon it was a race to beat the sun to the summit of Umukarikari, a race we won by literally less than a minute.  There was some stunning views as the sun rose behind Makorako (or was the sun in front? I think both were similar distances from us!).  Makorako just looked an insane distance away. The trip up to the summit took 2hrs 15 mins.  It would be an easy 2 hour trip back to the car to bag this peak in less than 5 hours. 

But we had bigger fish to fry.  We continued on slowly dropping down as we moved along the range, then more steeply to the hut.  We arrived at 830am.  We then dropped some gear and I threw on the day pack.  Drinks, food and onward up the track toward Junction Top.  NB. about 2/3 the way up this ridge a sign shows the boundary onto private land.  You need to organise a permit from Air Charter Taupo in advance to continue onward.  We had the correct permissions so ventured upward to a point near Junction Top.  It was 10am and so much ground already covered.  Although Makorako was still a fair distance away, the mission was looking do-able.  We were upbeat and confident, feeling good. From there a Cairn with a small set of signs directed us left.  5 minutes further is another sign directing us right down a spur on an old steep path to “Rangatikei”.  We plunged down off the tops along a reasonably well defined track and about 30 minutes later entered the bush.

At this point the trip turned to custard.  The bush was a washing machine of tree fall, bush lawyer, part tracks, animal tracks and thick scrub.  We spent a long time trying to find a track, trying to bush bash a bit and generally becoming uneasy, tripping, sliding, crawling and crying like babies.  The GPS indicated it was still 700m vertical metres descent to the river and then we had the prospect of a similar flavour of bush experience on the other side of the river to climb to the final long section of tops before Makorako.  Not to mention that we then had to retrace our steps to the hut before dark with the same navigation uncertainties.  Time was ticking by.  Progress had ground to a halt.  It was now past midday.  The distance to go verses hours of daylight equation had swung away from our favour.  In itself that wasn’t too bad, we had headlamps, but taking into account the terrain and uncertainty we made the hard decision to pull the plug.

We were both psyched up for a big days hiking, so we decided instead of just heading back to the hut we would head all the way back to the car.  We turned around and tackled the steep exposed climb back up towards Junction Top as Mokarako taunted us.  It was hot and we were a bit deflated.  We tried to pull positives out of the abort as we dropped down again to the hut. 

The sight of the hut in the valley was a little earlier than we expected. Back at the hut we met some incoming hikers from a tramping club who were to attempt the same crossing the next day.  We compared notes and concluded it was possible we took the wrong spur as we dropped off the ridge (even though the track was obvious and signposted).  We shared our experience and swapped email addresses.  They are going to let us know if they find a route across.  If they do then a repeat trip is really a must do.  This peak is a tease, and needs to be conquered. It is possible though that after the very heavy snow fall last winter, and resulting carnage with the vegetation, that the already poor non maintained tracks in this area are now pretty much impassable. TBC

After a good hours break, and a much needed three coffees in a can; “Mother Shots”, we then took off from the hut on a caffeine high back up the long incline towards Umukarikari which sure looked a long way off.  Here it was our 4 hour+ trip back to the car. 4 hours didn't sound long in the context of the day but it is a fair hike on its own!

We crossed over Umukarikari summit and dropped down for what seemed like forever to break into the carpark at 730pm making the trip 15 hours, 36km and 2600m total vertical ascent.  That’s a big day in anyone’s language.  Although as usual I was a touch off the pace verses Guano (some say his legs are robotic), I was happy to be in great shape after 15 hours. I had no blisters, no strains etc and was walking completely unaided!  This is even more surprising realising I carried a full overnight 53L pack with generous provisions. I had still two full cans of tuna, a can of peaches, a can of chicken and a can of Coke for starters! Mad!

Then of course was the small task of driving back to Auckland.  We stopped at Waterside Restaurant + Bar in Taupo for a beer and meal (highly recommended they are always brilliant) before getting home for a much needed sleep.

I will leave Guano to post maps etc.

10  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Mangaweka / Mangaweka via Purity Hut Date: February 07, 2010, 05:33:40 PM
I took advantage of Taxi Guano to bag this peak.  Fair to say leaving Auckland Friday at 4pm, bagging Mangaweka and returning to Auckland Saturday night is bordering on insane but hey insane people have more fun.

From Taihape, it is about a 40 minute drive to the start of the track.  A stream crossing was negotiated successfully (on the way up anyway) and we headed into a section we named "the welcome mat".  It was a welcome mat in all ways apart from the fact it isn’t flat.  It is a very steep 300m vertical climb that just goes on and on.  If you are fit you will hate it.  If you are not fit you will make yourself ill.  It reminds me of the climb behind the hut at Hikurangi on the East Cape except it is about 50% longer.

At the top of this section we entered the bush.  The track is pretty good and dry with a number of steep sections though not as sharp as before.  As I did not want to let Guano feel bad, I did take the back marker position up this section as my heart rate soared again. Some say Guano’s heart only beats at one pace, I found no evidence to the contrary.  We made Purity Hut on the bush line in a blistering 1 hour 23 minutes where we had a rest and a quick bite.

Heading on up a spur towards wooden peg the track becomes a bit rougher with tussock and scrub often hiding where you put your feet. A grind of about 45 minutes saw us attain the main ridge and the stunning views of the inner Ruahine’s became visible. Sawtooth ridge looked a great place to visit and the major peaks of the eastern Ruahine’s seemed to tower over our position even though we were already at a similar or higher elevation! Optical illusions against the horizon abound!

We headed onward towards iron peg on a route that wasn’t at all obvious.  I think preparation, research, navigation equipment and a bit of experience is a must up here.  Even in the clear the featureless ridge made navigation not so obvious to me.  Guano with his GPS though took all navigation responsibility happily away from me.  In limited visibility you would need to be razor sharp on route finding and the comfort of a GPS would be worthwhile.

After some undulating travel we hit the unassuming summit of Mangaweka which is just a flat tussock covered nothing in all honesty.  There is a smashed trig and pile of wood to announce your arrival.  I didn’t see any prayer flags.  There are great views though, however by now cloud had built to the west hiding Mt Ruapehu and the central mountains.  The views east though were crystal clear and just gorgeous; the rugged Ruahines at your feet.  It took us 3 hours to attain Mangaweka. However this wasn’t the turnaround for us today.

I followed Guano on an unmarked route to the next major peak to the north which is named Hikurangi.  This out and back trip extension added approx 2 hours to the day.  Under foot isn’t that easy with tussock, and low scrub and uneven ground.  I did have a couple of close calls with minor ankle rolls. However, in reality those not attempting to break the sound barrier with Guano across here should have little problem.

Cloud then descended on the tops. We picked our way back along the ridge, back over Mangaweka, to wooden peg again and started our descent.  We passed two parties heading up to the hut in the heat of the day struggling with large packs.  I had to feel sorry for them!  A steep, knee punishing but uneventful trip down followed. I took a couple of good sized spills though as the legs began to wary. This included one that Guano will no doubt publish where I slid down a rock into the stream (which was very refreshing!!)

A big thank-you to Guano for the lift down.  It was the sort of trip that was just too far for a solo drive down from Auckland but his hospitality and organisation made it all possible.
11  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Hikurangi, Mt / Climbing Hikurangi Video Date: January 19, 2010, 09:27:42 AM
I was a bit slack uploading photos for this climb.  As part of my education to learn to use movie maker ive put together a movie with pictures and video from the climb. Have a look, I have uploaded a small version on to youtube (yeah learnt how to do that too)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjNarepHcgg
12  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Kohukohunui / Hunua East-West Traverse over Kohukohunui Date: January 11, 2010, 03:15:28 AM
A gorgeous day to hike under the dappled light of the inner Hunuas. Visabilty was limited a bit by a very high amount of haze.  It was so bad that we struggled to see Mt Moehau from Kohukohunui summit. This combined with such a bright day idn't make for great photos at all

Started at Waharau up the Waharau Ridge track and across the Mangatangi Track.  There is one stream crossing on this track. It certainly involves more climbing to the top (starting nearly at sea level) than the north south route (pink line) that Guano and I did a few weeks ago. We are pretty fit at the mo so it didn't seem too bad at all.  The mangatangi ridge track though is very rough and navigation can be a issue.

A quick 800m detour to bag Kohukohunui for the 10th time before backtracking a bit, then down the long but pretty Upper Mangatawhari track (need to keep on yr toes with navigation here too. there are a few tree fells making track not so obvious in places). Then left onto Ernies track which is a road more travelled and clearer along to piggots campsite for a change of socks.

Then in the heat of the day down down Lilburne Rd to the Upper Mangatawhari Dam.

Then a further 10km jog to Bacchus' place in Paparimu which included a long dusty windy <>250m ascent out from the dam which was a killer running (or should I say marathon shuffling) after nearly 8 hours hiking.

At the finish I helped down a 2002 Pegasus Bay Aria Riesling which Bacchus provided. Was mighty fine. 9 hours 5 minutes work all up for the <>29km  ;D

Route taken is the light blue line
13  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Pouakai / Pouakai Trig ex Dover Rd Date: January 06, 2010, 05:10:17 PM
Completed with the Wife + Ash Bash and Claire Bear and inspired by Guanos pictures.  My first mistake was my belief we could at least be competative vs Guanos time.  We also made it up in "a little over 1.5 hours".  Of course that depends on your definition of "a little". Does an extra 1.5ish hours qualify?

To get to the start of the track you need to drive out of New Plymouth on Carrington Road.  It is a bit windy and narrow in places but all sealed.  Just watch the corners!  About 20 metres before you hit Dover Road there is a bridge. Immediately after the bridge is a small sealed carpark area on the left (mountain side) with a sign for Dover track

The track is rough and a full on tramping track.  I would advise proper tramping boots at any time of year. I actually had trail shoes on but after 20 metres on track I returned to the car and changed to my boots and i'm very glad i did! It started muddy and kept that way. Also ensure you have a good kit with plenty of warm clothes.  1000m vertical ascent means it can be warm and calm at the carpark but cold and windy at the top. The kids new Helly Hansen jackets got a great first use with bitter winds blowing on the top sections.

More than half this walk is in bush, starting at a gentle gradient but steepening and becoming rougher.  To start with you push through some muddy track with blackberry and gorse everywhere, it is quite overgrown. After about 10 minutes you cross a fence into the bush proper.  The track is pretty rough; mud, roots and rocks abound. It is not well formed at all and progress was very slow.  There is also the odd tree fall which keeps you on your toes in terms of navigating on the track. It reminded me of some of the roughest Waitakere and Hunua tracks in the winter and here we are in January.

After about 2 hours of slog you break out onto an exposed tussock, peat, rock and scrub covered ridge above the bush line and make your way upward across some narrow sections and rocky knobs.  It gets pretty steep in places and the track broken guided by poles inviting you to make your own decisions in part.

The trig is reached after about 90 minutes of steep work including the odd bit of simple rock scrambling.  It is very interesting and good views can be had.  We reached the top faced with a cold biting wind and swirling misty cloud.  We were lucky the weather broke for 15 or 20 minutes enabling the views this track is famous for.  Some snaps and lunch followed before the cloud rolled in again inviting us to leave.

7 hours work with the family in tow including a generous stop at the top for many photos and lunch.  This track was more challenging than I expected. For folk that major on speed and fitness over fair terrain more than balance and deft footwork over rough ground, this track will see them struggling to do too much better than the 3.5 hours up posted on the DOC sign at the bottom.  It is a true "guts it out" trampers track.

I would actually suggest re rating this hike as "Medium Hard".  Presently rated as "Medium". I consider it harder than any of the other "Medium" rated NI climbs I have done, and at least the equivalent of Mt Tongariro which is rated "Medium Hard".  My basis for this is track condition (very rough, unformed, muddy, some scrambling), weather exposure (open ridge exposed to SW and high rainfall), vertical climb (1000m) and time on feet/ distance (<>7 hours incl stops)
14  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Kaukau Peg / Easy 55 min return Date: December 25, 2009, 11:09:34 AM
report to follow  ;D
15  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Colonial Knob / Stunner Day Date: December 24, 2009, 04:58:17 AM
Easy 1 hour 40 mins up and down. Super day. Pix to follow
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