Trip Reports
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1  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Taranaki, Mt / Syme Hut to Summit & Back to Dawson's Falls Visitor Centre Date: April 04, 2012, 02:56:56 PM
Having spent a very cold, wind chilled night at Syme Hut (see the Fantham's Peak trip report), we got up early in hope that a clear weather window would give us the opportunity to scale the southern, un-marked route to the summit. Our early start meant we witnessed the most incredible sunrise over the distant Tongariro National Park peaks.

As we climbed Taranaki away from Fantham's peak we felt privileged to be able to view no less than FIVE national parks. Obviously we could see Egmont, also there was Whanganui & Tongariro, however we were amazed to see all the way to Kahurangi and Abel Tasman.

We made a point of following the dry stream beds as high up the scoria slopes as be could. We then tried to follow the rough zig-zag tracks wherever we could, however we still strayed onto the loose and treacherous marbles and tennis balls and then it got real hard to progress. However after about 2hrs we made it to the edge of the crater. Again the sights were spectacular. There seemed multiple options for getting to the summit but we opted for the straight up the middle approach. We weren't quite the first to the top but the were less than 6 people to have to share the summit with. After a bit of morning tea we started our descent as the cloud began closing in again.

It helped descending the unmarked path in the cloud because we noted all our landmarks when we were climbing. We also developed a great technique for descending the scoria, which meant seeking out the softest and loosest places on the slope. It was actually really enjoyable. Eating a bit of lunch in Syme Hut and packing up all our overnight gear meant we were on the track back to Dawson's by 1pm. Having learnt  to use a stick these days, has saved me a miserable knee destroying experience when descending all those so many steps. I don't think I would have made it otherwise. However the getting back to the car park for 4.30 was a wonderful feeling of achievement.

At a push you might do the southern route from Dawson's in a day but why would you??? The stay at the hut is definitely the way to go. If I could have stayed 2 nights, it would have been even better!!!
2  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Fantham's Peak / Overnight at Syme Hut Date: April 04, 2012, 02:30:26 PM
Another weekend expedition. After a 5.5hr drive down from Auckland on Friday night, the plan was to stop at Konini Lodge but it was all booked out to a school group so we stopped at the good value Stratford Holiday Park instead. An early(ish) start in good clear weather meant we were on the track from Dawson's Falls Visitor Centre by 8.30! The first hour is through the forest and bush before you break out of the tree line. Note, if using a map this is deceptive progress because you look about halfway there when in fact you are only between a 1/4 to 1/3 of the way. It is pretty much benched steps all the way to the scoria slopes and then it becomes very slow progress. Pick your path well and progress is good, pick it poorly and you are on your hands and knees in no time, trying not to go backwards.

After 3.75 hrs we arrive at Syme Hut, by which stage the temperature is plummeting and and the wind is rising. Freezing cold cloud envelops the Fantham's Peak and any ambitions of pushing on to Taranaki Summit after lunch are quashed. Instead we thoroughly investigate Fantham's Three Peaks, concluding that the middle one is the highest, though we bag all three to be on the safe side. We then entertain ourselves watching 7 people in different groups descending from the summit, whenever the cloud cover allows it.

I must say going outside the Hut in those conditions was an experience in the meaning of short-term "exposure" - I have never experienced wind chill to that degree. Even well protected, you could be shivering uncontrollable in 15 minutes. Gotta have some respect for that - that warning about Taranaki should be heeded!

Thank goodness I had a really good sleeping bag but nipping out to the thunder-box in the middle of the night was a mixed experience of near exposure and awe-struck star gazing.

When I woke in the morning the crystal clear sunrise, over the distant Tongariro NP, was one of those very special moments I will cherish till my dying day.

This is an awesome overnight tramp. (photos to follow)
3  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Urchin / Waipakahi Hut to Kainmanawa Rd Date: June 05, 2011, 01:29:52 PM
We had got to the hut in fantastic conditions via Umakarikari the previous day (see trip log under Umakarikari). The experiance of the late arrivals meant that we changed our plans which originally involved returning back via the river. Instead we got up early (my friend was supposed to be back in auckland for 9.30pm !!!) and went back over Umakarikari again. The climb back up out of the misty dawn was quite magicaland we made it back to the turnoff to Urchin in pretty good time.

Now this is a relatively new path across the ridge to Urchin and the track condition is far from ideal. Even before you descend below the tree line, there is a fair chance you might lose the pole markers in poor visability. The tussock land is quite eroded in places but all this is a peice of cake compared to that silver beech wooded ridge. (All beech forests are not the same!!!)

The track condition and seemingly endless up and down with no visability eventually sapped my morale and energy as I found my self walking further than I had gone before. There was large numbers of fallen trees though there had been a number of efforts to try and keep the track open.

As we emerged from the cursed ridge (oh did I curse it at the end) the weather truly closed in. The final slog over Urchin was a fairly low visability affair and it was with some relief that we reached the trig point and began our descent.

The forest on the way down should have been magnificent. It was still special but the possums had truly had their wicked way with many of the largest of the Red Beeches. It really was quite sickening to see. I even thought up a solution - I'll post in the discussion area so as not to hijack the thread.

Eventually walked out of woods just as the darkness set in. It was a good 10hrs tramp and in late May that's about as long as you want. I am looking forward to having another crack in summer - might even try the river then
4  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Umukarikari / Kaimanawa Rd to Waipakahi Hut Date: June 05, 2011, 12:41:22 PM
Day 1 of a Multi-day walk. Clear wonderful weather all day. Path was very well marked and in good condition for 95% of the route.

This is a staggeringly good walk. I cannot reccommend it highly enough. The beech forest on the climb is very pleasant and when you get above the tree line it was just breath taking. We wasted so much time just stopping to take photos and taking in the spectacle.

This is my very favorite kind of tramping. Once you are up on top there are great views round each corner. In fact I take it all back, sssh don't tell anyone, keep it secret.

We passed back and forth with a Hunter on the way to the Hut going the same route as us. He had friends making their way up the Waipakahi River and as we looked down we could see the enormity of that route - I was so relieved that we chose the Umakarikari summit route (we originally planned to return down the river). The actual summit of Umakarikari is a little bit flat and disappointing. The footpath even bypasses it!!! That's only a minor grumble on an otherwise excellent day.

The "standard" Waipakahi hut could easily be classed as a serviced one. Wood and coal for the stove, a full water supply and internal draining sink in the cooking area. Long after dark, the river walkers straggled in a good 2-3 hours after dark, which they assured us in the morning was not nice. At least we had a roaring fire ready for them. Our return route was being hastily revised.

Ended up about 8 people in a 12 bunk hut.
5  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Baldy, Mt / Made it a maiden overnighter Date: November 13, 2010, 12:52:16 PM
November 2010 - Dry for weeks - Car Park at End of Hot Springs Rd - Easy 2 days

We chose this track as a trial for my first NZ overnighter in a hut. It can easily be done in a day but we had additional ambitions and I was also a bit worried about a recent soccer foot injury so taking it easy was the order for the weekend.

There is a wonderfully obvious circular route for this walk so we ascended the steep / short way up on the northern side of the circuit. It is a very pleasant forest walk most of the way but only very occassional glimpses of views.

We dropped the overnight gear at Te Rere-a-tukahia Hut (about 1.5-2.0 hr tramp from car park) and pressed on uphill after lunch (ignoring the warning signs at the start of the path). The views from an unmarked Mt Baldy summit are very satisfying though the wind does fair whistle across the top there. The path is indeed unmaintained and difficult, though active youngster will still find it rewarding.

However our plans were to press on and summit Tangitu and Wahine Rock further on down the old north-south ridge path. Sadly this all went a bit wrong. The path after Mt Baldy is either ankle breaking, grass covered potholes or completely overgrown, possum decimated bush! Coupled with paths that bypassed the peak at Tangitu and looked threatened by recent landslips, I started to get second thoughts. Having a dodgy foot and a knee that was grumbling at pushing bush sideways, we called it a day and headed back to the hut. On the way down the knee well and truly gave out. Good job we stayed at the hut!

The journey down the south side the next day was taken super slowly and involved a stick to lean on. I was surprised how effective this worked out. The track down was mostly gradual, following an old rail trail. Despite the discomfort from the knee this part of the route was one of the most pleasant walks I have enjoyed in NZ. We got down in about 2.5 hrs, even with a gammy leg.
6  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Auckland, Mt / see below Date: October 15, 2010, 03:22:02 PM
ditto - sorry still haven't got the hang of keeping my peak list up to date - trip log entered seperately
7  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Auckland, Mt / Ideal Time Of Year Date: October 06, 2010, 02:21:12 PM
Date - Last weekend (3/10/2010) with the family.
Track Condition - Pretty good though it looks like it can get real boggy and slippery in places after a few days rain
Started - SH16 and finished Kaipara Hills Rd
Time Taken - Easy amble took 1.5hrs to the top and about 2hrs across to Kaipara Hills Rd exit.

As you can see we took the two car option so we could do the walk-through (2 out of the 4 of us hate going back on ourselves). Leaving the first car at Kaipara Hills Rd car park meant we were trying to find the entrance of SH16. Vinodrinker was spot on about the difficulties of using this entrance to the walk. SH16 is narrow, winding and FAST. It is not a road to be dawdling around on trying to spot unsigned turnings with no parking, reversing, u-turns, etc. Despite info saying there is parking off SH16 ... THERE ISN'T. I dropped the family at the gate and found a sizable verge up the road to abandon the car.

The climb isn't too onerous from the SH16 side and while sometimes there is a bit of a gradient, there are no exposed drops to worry the little 'uns. However I was glad we were ascending as coming down would have been a bit trickier. When you are in the forrest it is really quite pleasent and charming. The viewing platform is having a proportion of it's views blocked by regenerating vegetation (curse it - cut it down - oh ok let it be then). Didn't see a single person on the section from SH16 to the summit. However the other way was pretty busy. Forrest was even nicer on the section down to Kaipara Hills Rd but be warned - we found the final kilometre a bit of a slog to get up to the level of the car park. Isn't it funny how psychology plays such a role when tramping? We thought e were done so e found the final need to climb some more pretty dispiriting.
8  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / William, Mt / Fences and Orange Poles Date: February 08, 2010, 02:13:48 PM
We tackled the Mt William Walkway from the Puketutu end due to a combination of reasons. Firstly we trialled the idea of a point to point walk using two cars and we also had two seriously un-motivated junior members of our "peak-bagging" party. Therefore we walked all the way through to the McMillan Rd which is down hill overall.

The track condition was bone dry but quite uneven in places due to various horse-treckers sharing the walkway. However the views that come from open fields are very satisfying.

The only grumble was that it looks like someone has attempted to fence off access to the summit and trig point. I hope this is just a temporary state of affairs and that some styles will be added to the new fences enable access via the summit in future.

A pretty good half day family outing all in all.
9  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Te Aroha / Gold Mines & Tramlines Date: January 31, 2010, 03:23:59 PM
This isn't a minor undertaking and it definitely gave me the best workout for some time, though there were numerous runners and local kids who seemed to have a good measure of getting up and back. We were up against an easterly weather front which was due to come through in the afternoon so we couldn’t take it too easy.
We took the track that goes straight up the Bald Spur from the Tui domain. We found the track condition was pretty good. Again my personal preference is for more view points to make the experience more worthwhile but there were two or three locations to admire the Thames and Waikato plain stretching off into the distance. It took us about 2.5hrs to get up there and I was starting to think I might be struggling if it was a lot further.
There are some nice views from the top and the effect is only slightly spoiled by the transmission tower and services humming away. At the top we got the pre-cursor of the weather front while we had lunch and debated the best way down. We had a tip-off the track back via the mine wasn’t much good and I didn’t fancy straight back down again. Following the service road couldn’t be much fun so we opted to head for Waiorongomai Road end via the High Level Pack Track.
The first section descending was pretty overgrown and slippery but when we got down to the tramlines I think we had a bit of a treat. The line was easy to follow and there were three tramline inclines. The whole system was being re-vitalised by DOC and the inclines were a pretty interesting features. Also there was a tunnel which had previously had an obvious collapse!! We found entrances to gold mines were we found giant cave Wetas. Another good bit is there wasn’t another sole using the track at all.
When we got down the bottom we had the worst bit of the whole walk – 5km walk along the road back to town. This is not for kids, drivers were by and large pretty considerate but they are still going flat out. In hindsight we should have hitched a lift. Back at the car ;D the weather set in and torrential rain began – good timing. All in all I reckon it was about a 18km walk with a 900m+ up and back. It took us about 6.5hrs with stops and sightseeing. I think I’ll feel it tomorrow.
10  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Hirakimata / See Previous Date: January 25, 2010, 11:53:40 AM
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11  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Maunganui, Mt / See Previous Date: January 25, 2010, 11:52:02 AM
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12  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Rangitoto / See Previous Date: January 25, 2010, 11:51:29 AM
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13  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Zion, Mt / See Previous Date: January 25, 2010, 11:50:53 AM
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14  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Ruapehu, Mt / Perfect Day - Nearly Date: January 25, 2010, 11:48:50 AM
So by this stage I think I am at my most unfit. The Brother-in-law is a towering personailty with far more experience than me, especially in the scottish mountains. His son (13yo) came of age on this walk though. As stated the tracks are un-marked but we both felt experienced enough to navigate out own way. However the Terralink topographic map does not have sufficient detail or the Mountain features change suffiently that we realised we were walking ourselve into some quite hazardous circumstances.

Fortunately accepting that mountains eat pride for breakfast, lunch and dinner - we backed out and slowly ground our way back across onto the conventionally route. By this stage the BIL was shot and puffing. His boy though just altered his pace so the old man felt he was still coping well. In truth I think the nephew and I could have pressed on. By the time we got to the ridge we were beginning to get concerned about time and be-nighting. I was sure my nephew could have made it with me but it would have crushed his dad's self esteem.

I felt really good at that stage so rather than turn back at that point I ran on to the dome shelter while they rested. It was magical there above the crater lake. Not a sole at that time of day was about. It felt truly spiritual. It was one of the most magical moments of my life.

We then got down much quicker than we had expected - mainly because we just slid down the snow in the valleys. Had we known it, we could all definately have made it to the shelter and back.
15  North Island Trip Reports and Comments / Maunganui, Mt / Jan 2008 Date: January 25, 2010, 11:18:20 AM
This is a another one bagged as a family. Up and down in 2.5hrs. This is one for everyone - my four year old daughter did it and we passed people pushing prams!!! Great views though it was busy up there,
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