Manuoha-Waikareiti Te Urewera Labour Weekend 2009
Labour Weekend 2009
It was time to take a break from thrashing the ski slopes of Ruapehu and get back into the hills again. We hadn’t visited the Ureweras for sometime since going around Lake Waikaremoana with the children many years previously. We planned to climb the highest
badly affected by the late spring snows. They had cleared the Great Walk tracks but hadn’t the resources to clear the other tracks yet. With the windfalls, we were told it would take us a good 8 hours to get to Mt Manuoha and the track to Sandy Bay Hut was not well defined on a broad ridge and was described by DOC as strenuous. It was a chance to do some GPS work. The weekend weather looked good, clagging in on Monday when we would be off the tops. We left early Saturday morning from our Motor Camp in Wairoa to drive the 62km to Waikaremoana. Sandy Bay Hut was a booked hut and although we had paid for the ticket previously, we had to get the actual ticket from the DOC office. With only one staff member, the queue was slow moving and only the Great Walk hut tickets had been printed out. We eventually got our tickets and headed back to the Waikaremoana campsite to get our transport. We paid an expensive $210 for the 35 min minibus trip to take us to Waiotukupuna Bridge at the start of the trip.
The DOC board said 7 hrs to Manuoha Hut and 14 hrs to Sandy Bay Hut for experienced trampers only. It was 10am. There was a ute at the start of the track: perhaps a couple were going to the hut. We crossed the Te Manawa Stream and headed up the valley. The track was scattered with windfalls that we had to scramble over or find a route around. From the valley the track climbed steeply with still ample windfalls. At the last stream Carol and Ray were waiting. “At this rate we won’t get to Manuoha Hut in 14 hours,” commented Carol. We soon climbed onto the ridge and had left most of the bad windfalls behind. It was a gently rising ridge with red and silver beech, coprosma and some dracophyllum with some tops browsed by deer, but little bird life. We stopped for a late lunch trying to get some distance under our belt. As we climbed higher we entered into the goblin forest, spectacular with the tall trees and branches clothed in great wads of moss. The ground looked pretty soggy to put a fly up for the night. We stopped above a slip, just past the 1261m mark and admired the vista before us; up ahead we could see the shape of Mt Manuoha. We continued up. The footprints on the track were several days old, so the people in the ute hadn’t come this way. The goblin forest became more stunted and moss clad trees were replaced by leatherwood, Soon we were out of the bush and by 3:45pm we were at the trig admiring the views down to Lake Waikaremoana and Lake Waikareiti, and to the west, the snows of Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. We dropped down to the 6 bunk hut. It was deserted but it wasn’t long before three lasses from Hawkes Bay arrived from Sandy Bay. They said that the track wasn’t that bad although they had cleared several windfalls off the track.
It was fairly cool but we soon had the wood fire going and the little hut was getting cosy. We chatted away, cooked and ate and as dusk approached, headed for an early night. Five people on three mattresses with a 150mm end gap was rather crammed. The girls said it was a lot warmer that the cold gas heater at Sandy Bay. Up at 7am, breakfast and on our way by 8. The girls were going out and then around Lake Waikaremoana; it saves paying the exorbitant minibus fares if you have to time to spare. We descended from the hut back into the goblin forest. The track seemed well marked with DOC venetian blind markers on the trees. The day was more overcast; perhaps the forecast of rain was coming early. We travelled east to the 1285 m mark, then south. There were a few windfalls but travel was good. By 10:30am we were at Pukepuke and by 11:30am we had moved off the ridge down to Kaipo Lagoon. As we descended south there were more windfalls on the track. We were in the bush above Kaipo Lagoon, so disappointingly, no views. Time for lunch in the sun. On to the Tundra region. The track here was more undulating and more effort than on the ridge. We passed Lake Henrietta and reached Sandy Bay Hut just after 3pm. We had made good time considering the number of stops we had had.
While we were told by DOC that Sandy Hut was nearly full, no one else turned up. It was a delightfully situated hut on the shores of Lake Waikareiti with the late afternoon sun pouring down on the verandah. Trish and Christine saw a morepork to be photographed by us all as it moved around the trees. Carol’s camera was infatuated with a pair of Paradise ducks feeding by the water’s edge.
The clouds cleared by midnight with the moon shining brightly. Monday’s weather didn’t deteriorate; it was the best day with blue skies and not a cloud in sight. We decided to do the longer trip around Puna Hokoi, Hine Waho, Lake Ruapan and Waipu Swamp back to the visitor’s centre. The bird life had returned with kaka, fantails, robin, grey warbler, tui and kereru and frogs croaking in Waipu Swamp. So out by 3:30pm and a visit to the spectacular Aniwaniwa Falls; there was so much water. We spent a relaxing night in a chalet at Waikaremoana campsite before returning to Wellington in the rain the next day. So a great trip, great company and great weather.
- Party members
- Ray and Carol Molineux, Peter and Christine Whiteford, Trish Gardiner-Smith and Peter Smith(scribe).