Author Topic: Hikurangi bagged!  (Read 2191 times)


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Hikurangi bagged!
« on: April 24, 2009, 11:47:35 PM »
Phew, this was an interesting one.

Bagged it with my brother in mid April 2009.

We decided to do it in two days, overnighting at the hut so that we could get a good crack at the summit attempt.  We started early from Gisborne, leaving at 0500hrs, and getting to Pakihiroa Station carpark at around 0730hrs (I think, it was a bit of a blur at that time of morning!).

As vinodrinker says in his report, the walk up the first 10km of the track is so simple you couldn't get lost even blindfolded.  Well marked, on a gravel 4WD farm track winding its way up the mountain.  It's pretty steady uphill and you can see the hut from about 20 minutes in (cruel, because it just never seems to get any closer!).  At starting time, the cloudless sky boded well for summitting, but within 45 minutes the summit was disappearing in a cloud cap.

Once you get almost up to the hut, there's a fork in the track - if you want to go to the whakairo (Maori carvings honoring Maui and his family), take the left fork for a brief side trip.  It only takes 5 minutes to get up there, and they're well worth the effort.  Also a good idea to get the story on them all from the guys at the Ngati Porou Visitor's centre in Ruatoria.

Once you've looked at these, head back down the path, and take the other fork.  Scramble up a bit of steepish farmland following the yellow poles for about 200m to the hut.

The hut is unassuming, but a welcome respite from the constant uphill.  But don't worry, it only gets steeper!  It took us 3.5 hrs to get to the hut from the carpark, so we were there by 1100hrs.

We took a bit of a long lunch break and went for the summit, departing around 1230hrs.  The conditions weren't the greatest - cloud cover restricting visibility to about 25m and making things pretty damp.

When you first leave the hut, it is a <i>steep</i> slog up the first few hundred metres of grass - following the very well poled route up towards the forested area.  The forested area isn't too strenuous, and once you emerge out of it you follow the poles along more undulating terrain around the western flanks through alpine scrub.  There's heaps of different foot tracks through here and some of it can be a little dodgy with some potholes hidden under the vegetation, so watch your step, and make sure you keep to the poled route.

We were finding it hard to see from pole to pole through the scrub (doesn't help that they're off white poles in a whiteout environment!), but kept on slowly continuing.  The speargrass works its way in here, and as you come out of the forest is a good time to put your gaiters on if you haven't already!

We got across the couple of scree slopes to the final pole before the chute, but because of our slow progress in the conditions, and the unlikelihood of any view from the top, we decided to call it and try again the next morning.

After a good sleep on our own in the quaint little hut, we attacked the summit again departing at 1000hrs.  The trek up was the same as the first time around, and when we reached the scree chute (where the poles suddenly end), we had a fun, but at times a little daunting, scramble up the gulley to the ridge.  Vinodrinker is right, keep left in the vegetated stuff and you'll keep your footing better.  There is one point where you come to what looks like a fork in the gulley, with a bit of a prominent vegetated spur coming out in the middle of the gulley - we went right, and that got us to the ridge fine - not sure if left would have got us up also though.

On the ridge, the description in the Shaun Barnett's <i>North Island Weekend Tramps</i> is absolutely correct - something about a narrow ridge with steep drop-offs to the east, daunting for those who don't like moderate exposure, and at the narrowest point the overhanging speargrass can make things a little tricky!

Go right at the ridge to get to the trig station, or (apparently) left to get to the second peak, which is apparently a little easier and a broader summit.  We, of course, went right, and across the narrow, exposed ridge for about 5 minutes to the summit.

It was the scariest 5 minutes of my tramping life.  But we just kept our heads and were very very careful, and got there ok.

Of course, the cloud had closed in again, so the only photos we've got to show for the summit are some very scared looking cold faces inside the trig station holding on with white knuckles for safety!  We summited at 1230hrs, 2.5 hours after we set out.

The trip down was incredible - the feeling of safety after getting off the scary ridge was just great.  We literally scree skiied our way down half the chute, and half skipped down the rest of it, steep as it was, and were down to the hut by 1400hrs.

The trip out is simple, we marched out pretty quick after taking a quick look at the whakairo, and only took an hour and a half to get down to the carpark from the hut.  We were out at 1530hrs, relieved and satisfied, if a little miffed that there was no view from the top!

This is a great tramp, a really good challenging one.  Highly recommended!

Re: Hikurangi bagged!
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2009, 01:37:37 PM »
Departing as late as 10am from the hut was probably your only false move!! Congrats, its a good climb!!


Re: Hikurangi bagged!
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2009, 03:18:37 PM »
congrats, sounds like a bit of a scary one!

Re: Hikurangi bagged!
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2009, 02:46:34 PM »
There is one point where you come to what looks like a fork in the gulley, with a bit of a prominent vegetated spur coming out in the middle of the gulley - we went right, and that got us to the ridge fine - not sure if left would have got us up also though.

We went left at the fork keeping with the tip of the guy we reguistered our intentions with (who by the way was brilliantly helpful and friendly - as a result I have great respect and thanks for the way the Ngati Pouro manage the mountain). We hit the ridge ok too just at the base of where the ridge climbs steeply to the mother peak