Author Topic: GG's Hikurangi  (Read 1602 times)

GG's Hikurangi
« on: March 31, 2018, 02:27:33 PM »
With Vino’s continual references to this peak of late, I thought it was about high time I knocked this one off and joined the exclusive “Hi-5” club.

I thought Mt Humphries was remote. But with a drive from The Tron of about 7 hours, this peak gives a whole new definition to that word. I drove in from the northern side and stayed at The Eastend Backpackers at Rangitukia, just east of Tikitiki. Quite a nice little spot to stay ($10 for tents, $25 for cabins) and only 45 minutes drive to the start of the walk.

The drive in was an adventure in itself. It had been over 25 years since I’d driven down this road and I’d forgotten how long and winding it was. Things haven’t changed much, although now the people on horseback have been replaced by the occasional car. I did still however almost run over 2 x dogs, 2 x cats and 1 x possum. Just as I was almost at Tikitiki I hit a rare stretch of straight road where I was relieved to be able to try and regain a bit of lost time. Just as I was cruising at full speed I could see what appeared to be a white plastic bag up ahead floating across the road in the dark, only to realise at the last minute that the white bag was in fact the white patch on the head of a black bull who happened to be standing in the middle of the road! I slammed on the anchors and just missed it. Welcome to the east coast!

With the only near miss early the next morning being a horse on the road, I was off to a good start. I parked the car and started walking at sunrise – about 6:30am. The 4 wheel drive track appeared to be so obvious that I simply followed my nose and completely missed the turnoff to the right shortly after the start and ended up at the owners house over the next rise – doh! Only wasted about 10 minutes, but thought I’d better pay attention from now on!

It was a nice steady climb all the way to the hut and I made good time with a 5.6km/h moving average, despite having to lean into the strong head wind. I reached the hut in about 1 hour 45 minutes, including my previous unplanned scenic side excursion. The steep slope just before the hut had me thinking that I must have missed it, and this was the much anticipated ‘welcome mat’. "Not that bad at all really" I thought to myself. However, I was surprised to see the hut suddenly appear with the now very obvious steep bit immediately to follow. Buggar. I found the hut door locked and after knocking on the door I eventually got a very sheepish looking young chap open the door and apologise for taking so long because he and his girlfriend were both still ‘asleep’.  After wrecking their romantic morning to themselves, my job was done here and I moved on.

Yep the next bit was definitely steep. After that it levelled off nicely shortly after entering a brief bit of bush. Then it was back out in the tussock and a constant lookout required to keep the markers in sight. It is well marked, but the track not very obvious in places. Keep going from marker to marker, watch where you’re putting your feet, and you won’t run into any problems. The high markers are no doubt  here for the benefit of those wanting to walk up in the dark for the sunrise, but I imagine it would be a slow trip trying to find the markers in the dark whilst trying to watch where you’re putting your feet and avoiding the dreaded spaniards!

Speaking of which, it is most unusual to see so many of these spiky things this far up north. I wasn’t wearing gaiters, and don’t think you really need them – provided you are vigilant! There was one bit there where you have to hop across rocks with the damned spaniards taunting your every step in between. It was a cold day and I slipped on a bit of ice, and landed flat on my back on top of one of the buggars! Fortunately my pack deflected what could have been a very nasty injury.

The scree chute was also surprisingly steep which had the lungs going. Like previous logs, I found an easier track of sorts on the left hand side. This moved to the right side up near the top and then continued up the right hand side where the chute divided into two. I followed this up the right which is the slightly shorter and more travelled path. This brings you very abruptly onto the final ridge – take care you don’t step over it in poor visibility! I was surprised to see the trig now for the first time so very close. The much anticipated final steep rock scramble was a little disappointing – no difficulties here at all. Looking back at my photos now, it does appear to be quite intimidating, but the route is obvious and quite straight forward with adequate care.

It took me about an hour and 10 minutes to the summit from the hut – just over 3 hours in total from the carpark including stops. It was a bit windy and cool, but I was treated to a rare cloudless summit with clear views in all directions.

I turned back and then climbed the female peak next door. Honestly, can't they come up with a better way to differentiate the two? If you feel uncomfortable for any reason climbing the male (trigged) peak, then this other peak is a little easier and less exposed (she's just that sort of girl obviously). It’s well worth doing regardless as it only takes 5 minutes up and the views are probably even better out here. My GPS indicated exactly the same elevation on both peaks, so I think it’s a fair bag for either of them.

I stopped off at the wooden carvings on the way down (having missed them on the way up). Most impressive and well worth the short detour to see. I met a large group of 7 who were on their way up to the hut for the night to completely ruin the rest of the weekend for the other two young romantics.

Back to the car after a leisurely 7 hour day all up. Not a bad little stroll, and the yes, Whanokao did look most inviting. What really impressed me though was the potential rock climbing nearby. I was particularly struck with the sublime looking knife edge arête on the SW of Wharekia. With around 250m of vertical rock, this would make some quite exciting and exposed climbing! It’s only a pity it’s just so damned far away.

Very pleased to have finally ticked this one off the list though. Now there’s just that pesky Makorako to deal with...
'There is always a risk in being alive, and if you are more alive, there is more risk' -Ibsen