Author Topic: Mt Hikurangi - Bagged It 25/01/09  (Read 2377 times)

Mt Hikurangi - Bagged It 25/01/09
« on: January 27, 2009, 01:49:25 PM »
Bagged with henrys and bacchus. Yay. Very cool climb, one of the hardest and scariest ive done so far. Great boys weekend away

There isnt really any decent accounts of this climb of a complete and useful nature anywhere on the internet with photos (that I can find anyway). Some of the info I found was innaccurate so i promise I will post a detailed report very soon. Anyway in the meantime I can put a tick in this box.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 03:49:00 PM by vinodrinker »

Re: Mt Hikurangi - Bagged It 25/01/09
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2009, 08:53:18 AM »
Here is my attempt to put something comprehensive on the internet regarding this hike. Hopefully it is useful to someone out there as info on this climb is pretty light and fragmented i have found. Apologies if I don't use quite the correct terminology - I am no professional

For most people a summit of Mt Hikurangi is well past a spare of the moment decision.  It is in a remote part of the country, it is a full day undertaking at the least and it is reasonably hard work. It usually involves a couple of nights accommodation each side of the hike and travel which makes it a holiday climb for most.  Once more it is a summer event, you need a good long dose of daylight to knock this off in a day. Ensure you register your intent with Ngati Pourou upon setting a date and listen to their radio station on the way up, it has some good tunes to get you in the east coast mode (if that exists at 3:00am).

To get there travel north from Gisborne along SH35.  After the turn off to Ruatoria (which you don’t take) you cross a bridge over the Waiapu River. After a couple of minutes, the second road on the left after this is Tupuaeroa Road.  Take this road. Despite what I have read in places this road is not a gravel road and is now completely sealed.  It is fine for any reasonable car. There are a number of narrow one way bridges. Right at the end of the seal you will turn left over a bridge signposted Pakihiroa Station. Follow the gravel road after the bridge along to the right for approx 200 metres or so and there will be a reasonably large carpark to the left after a tight bend with a sign board and sign post. This carpark sits just below the station masters house which is basically the only house there (if you pass a house you have gone too far).  If you are arriving in the dark, watch carefully to the left for the carpark. We screamed past it and ended up on the 4wd road going up up up. On our return (once we figured we were doing something very wrong) we spotted a nice sign saying “Authorised 4wd vehicles only past this point”. Oops! It was a bit dodgy for a 2wd town car! Anyway you start at approx 240m/ asl just a little above the river bed.  The car trip from Gisborne to the carpark took only 2 hours which is quicker than people told us. We started hiking from the carpark at 5:15am.

The track itself is extremely well marked with large poles and it would be difficult to get lost even in the dark.  Just follow the 4wd road upward past the station masters house and onward and upward following the marker posts. The road is long, with many a winding turn as they say. It is steady in grade but not too steep and a good pace can be maintained. There are a few gates along the way, continue and leave the gates as found. After about 2 hours (10km) there is a fork in the road (which we only noted after the fact so beware).  Straight ahead is a steep section of 4wd road leads up to the Maori carvings (approx 1050m asl) which are really a great detour in early morning. We took some great pictures just after sunrise (7:20am) which would not have been as effective in the afternoon.

After this you retrace your steps a little to take the other option at the fork which takes you to the end of the road. You then hit track across grass and scrub climbing roughly and quite steeply to the hut.  Follow the poles.  We reached the hut in 2.5 hours at 7:45am which included the detour and many photos at the carvings. This mocks the 4-7 hours suggested on the sign. The hut sits at approx 1140m asl. Here we dumped some excess water which we stored under the floor of the hut (note the gap between the door step and the ground – keeps it nice and cool for your return).  There is a toilet here too and a water supply. Vodafone coverage is available at the hut and some spots above.

After the Hut leaving at just after 8:00am things get more interesting climbing very steeply immediately behind the hut.  This was a ‘welcome to Hikurangi’ slog.  Here views start to open up even more letting in many surrounding peaks.  After the steep section there is a 10-15 minute change to procedings sees you enter ragged bush before coming out onto the tops on the western flanks of the mountain at approx 1400m asl. Climbing in the morning the immediate advantage of shade thrown by the towering jagged peaks of hikurangi becomes apparent. 

The tops section is well marked with poles, undulating but pretty flat. You do need to look ahead and be aware of your route as tracks and pseudo tracks sprawl off in many directions.  More than one set of eyes was an advantage here to prevent constant course readjustments.  The scrub is a bit rough and here you are introduced to the spiny, spiky, evil Spanish Speargrass which is very brutal. All of us would draw blood as a result of this bugger on this trip. It also flavoured the language used quite a bit.  Watch what you grab or walk to close to. It can even hide in clumps of tussock ready to surprise.  Also keep an eye on your feet as there are hidden holes lurking underfoot. This section passes a tarn and skirts around the main prepitous mass of Hikurangi which sits to your left along the way

Eventually you start to rise above the scrub and traverse some chunky scree slopes stepping again into some welcome shade. After a while you turn a corner past one of many rocky spurs/outcrops into the famous “chute” at 1425m asl.  Here the poles stop though the route is fairly obvious; up! It actually wasn’t as bad as I was expecting though it is a 300 vertical metre climb.  Just keep to the left as far as possible all the way up and you will be fine.  It does climb steeply, it is long and the bluffs towering to each side can look intimidating but you just have to keep going. Take your time and take care with footholds.

Your exposure increases and it can seem freaky at times, but keep your head level. It isn’t too bad.  The ground below is reasonably stable and route finding is relatively simple.  It will get the heart going though, it's hard work. After about 50 minutes we reached the top of the chute (which actually turns more into a vegetated gully towards the end) The saddle (at the point we hit) was at 1720m asl. It actually is a pretty narrow ridge dropping away steeply down the east face on one side with the chute on the other. This "saddle" sits between the “Female peak” to your left (north) and the “Male peak” to your right (south). The south peak is the one with the trig. As peak baggers this was the target. Only 35 odd vertical metres to go.

To get to the trig is fairly tricky and not the best place for vertigo sufferers. I am not great with heights but Sean and I removed our back packs and headed up. We didn’t want any weight or anything to compromise our balance. You sidle to the east past one or two rocky outcrops and goat track your way toward the final climb negotiating the odd steep step while hugging the slope with a complete desire to avoid a nasty nasty fall. There are some narrow bits with drop offs which are made worse by Speargrass deciding it is a funny to grow in some of the places where hand holds would be most comforting.  Just take your time, concentrate and take extreme care.  Soon you begin a steep rocky scramble up to the summit peak.  It is a bit tricky and care is required picking a good route but it is all possible for mortals in the end. It’s a great feeling those last few steps where it all safely broadens and flattens out up to the trig.

The peak itself has enough room on it to feel comfortable and there was plenty of opportunity for photos.  We summated at 10:30am taking 2.5 hours from the hut. The sign at the carpark suggested this section would take 1.5 hours.  I think this is pretty optimistic though im sure some heros may think otherwise. You would have to be pretty fit and deft at route finding to do that time especially for those starting the day at the carpark and planning to return to the car that day.  We did decide also to climb the "female peak" afterward but cloud was rolling in making the trip up pointless so we ditched the idea.  Apparently the female peak is easier to get up to although it looked much the same to me. It would still be a steep scramble. I have heard GPS altitude readings are identical on both peaks though as a result of our plan change I can’t confirm this.

We lunched at the saddle, changed socks and put on gaitors before at 11:40am beginning to descend the chute and retracing our steps. Gaitors improved our odds against the Spear grasses but were not really necessary for the scree which is alot more stable than the major north island volcanic peaks.

The descent was uneventful and it is just a case of being careful; it isn’t too tricky. At 1:50pm we took another break at the hut, made a log book entry there, and retrieved drinks for the long hot dusty road back.  The rest of the walk down was pretty easy aside from a few aches and pains. Of course it is even easier to follow in the light than in the dark!

We arrived at the car at 4:00pm for 10 hours 45 minutes all inclusive.

This is a peak (as with many I guess) that would be very tricky to attain in bad weather. Be aware and ensure great forecasts.  Be prepared. Mt Hikurangi seems to make its own weather to a degree. Cloud had engulfed the summit by 11:00am even though surrounding peaks and the ranges were clear.  Congratulations must be offered to the keepers of the track.  It was very clearly marked, and only a couple of times the entire day did we have to think twice about which way to go.


A few random below. I will post and document photos separately but in the meantime if you want to look at a fine line up of pictures here's the link to my facebook album which splices the best of Mine, Seans and Daves pictures in order.....
« Last Edit: January 29, 2009, 03:42:40 PM by vinodrinker »

Re: Mt Hikurangi - Bagged It 25/01/09
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2009, 09:37:48 AM »
looks and sounds fantastic... sound fairly challenging though!  would say this is a 'hard' or 'very hard' , for what that's worth!

Re: Mt Hikurangi - Bagged It 25/01/09
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2009, 03:56:18 PM »
Yeah picking a rating is always subjective and im sure there will be 50% of people that will disagree but against the other tough NI hikes ive done:

Comparing it to Taranaki, Hikurangi is longer in terms of distance but the first quarter and the last quarter of Hikurangi is easier than the easiest parts of Taranaki. Hikurangi in places is probably slighty more difficult for those who dont like heights. I would still rate Taranaki slighty tougher. Hikurangi is sorta like walking 10km, doing a tough 5 hour climb then walking another 10km. Taranaki is a tough 6 hoursish up 4 hoursish down.

Comparing to Ngarouhoe I think Hikurangi is slighty harder overall. The scree up Ngarauhoe is more difficult than the chute up Hikurangi. However the Hikurangi hike is quite a bit longer which certainly comes into play. Really, although the recent accident there is contrary, if you lose your footing on Ngarauhoe it really is just a undignified fall on your jacksie. Hikurangi in places it could be worse.

My amateur opinion only remember

Re: Mt Hikurangi - Bagged It 25/01/09
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2009, 02:47:53 AM »
Oh I don't think that an "undignified fall on your jacksie" is an amateur opinion. That's a teknikal term, that is!  ;D


  • Guest
Re: Mt Hikurangi - Bagged It 25/01/09
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2009, 04:16:40 PM »
Hey vino, any chance you could make those photos public again?  The link has expired... I'd love to see what it actually all looks like from up there :P

Re: Mt Hikurangi - Bagged It 25/01/09
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2009, 03:41:00 AM »

Yes i will get off my butt and load them onto here this weekend