$68 Each and We Can All Go Home: Character Building - Otaki Forks
Sunday 11 October 1998
We got ready in the usual tramping way. Whilst getting ready, a Robinson helicopter appeared. Fellow trampers commented: "Rodney, you have done well getting a helicopter to deliver our packs up to Kime Hut! Just teasing."
We had the introductions of our group at the start of the tramp. I am always intrigued how everyone seems deep in thought as the challenge ahead unfolds for each individual. As we made our way up the hill with the rain setting in, we noticed how magnificent the flowering Clematis was.
Field Hut was a welcome sight! We had lunch there, feeling a bit concerned about going on to Kime Hut but nevertheless we did. The ground was damp and boggy under foot, but certainly not cold. The track was easy enough to find just by following the water gushing down the hillside. Six hours later, a sight to behold, in the mist we could faintly make out the bright red roof of Kime Hut.
There was only one problem - the other person in the Hut, who had the only mattress in the establishment, was not very talkative. Maybe he thought someone was going to deprive him of his mattress - perish the thought! The rain had not been kind. The hut was like a quagmire.
We woke up at 7am and had left the Hut by 9.30am. As we made our way down to Field Hut again we had some interesting views of the region. A cool light south-easterly prevailed, with the clouds billowing over the mountain-tops. The group's spirits were high, enjoying the welcome relief from the rain and taking in the typical Tararua Beauty. A s we were coming down, we were saying how nice it will be to get home early.
To our surprise when we arrived at the carpark the Ranger appeared, informing us there had been a slip by the Roaring Meg Stream which made the road impassable for vehicles and trampers alike. It soon became obvious to all that we had a few challenges ahead and a decision needed to be made about what we would do next.
Instant decision : a helicopter, the ultimate choice as it was quick and easy, and all fellow trampers agreed. The cost was $68.00 each. This amount didn't come out of club insurance funds, individuals paid for the rescue.
The strategic helicopter operation was under way!
The Ranger's wife went out in the 4-wheel buggy and sat in the Otaki Forks parking ground with her head lifted to the heavens as they emptied upon her. The rest of us were under shelter. A few in the group were nervous and a bit apprehensive about the impending helicopter flight, so waiting for the helicopter to arrive was tense and rather tedious. Then, all of a sudden we heard a noise from over the hills, and behold it was the Robinson Helicopter. It was like a scene in a Vietnam war movie.
The co-pilot instructed us on what we had to do. The evacuation commenced smoothly with two being taken out at a time. The helicopter co-pilot did a lot of thumbs-up actions each time he landed, to the amusement of our party. It was all very interesting.
As leader, I was the last one out. It was quite exciting to see my brother's vehicle and shuttle van and me making a "M*A*S*H" style entrance. But we all got home safely with many stories to tell. By Wednesday the slip had been cleared and we were able to collect our cars along with our very smelly packs.
The party members were: Ana Legge, Michael Hoyle, Siiri Bennett, Denise Whetton, Merran Lewis, Vivienne Healey, Carolyn Henkel, Barry Cuthbert, Alan Clark and Rodney Pfeffer (Leader and Scribe).