Mid Waiohine Hut
January 29-30, 2010
Given the lack of consistent warm and settled weather in January this year, the possibility of a two day positive weather window enticed me into having a ‘well day’ on the Friday, and so Dave and I headed for Mid Waiohine Hut. The trudge to Powell Hut was pleasantly broken by meeting two different Wairarapa acquaintances of Dave, and hence our lunch at Powell was somewhat delayed.
Refreshed by a cup of tea and food, we comfortably made our way over Mt Holdsworth and had a break in the warm, sunny conditions on a rock outcrop just before dropping into the saddle between Mt Holdsworth and Isabelle. In the clear conditions we could see the glinting roofs of Nicholls Hut and Maungahuka Hut.
The descent to Mid Waiohine Hut has not got any less steep and by the time we arrived our knees were pleased to be back on level ground. One of the joys of staying at this hut is the open fire place – one of the few remaining in the Tararuas - so our first task was to gather sufficient wood to cook the evening’s meal. If there is a functioning fire place then the meal must be a billy stew – and it was as enjoyable as all the previous ‘smoke-enhanced’ stews.
Sunday morning was pleasantly still with thin mists in the valley. To make the ascent out of the valley more adventurous we decided to go off-track. We went downstream on the track to Aokaparangi until we crossed the first (and only) significant stream before the bridge across the Waiohine River. We then went off track on to the spur that starts out rising in a direction just south of east and then rises to about 800 metres on an approximate bearing of 120°. Getting up on to the crown of the spur was a bit scrappy but once on the crown travel was, for the most part, straight-forward. There were a few instances of compulsory scramble, but not numerous enough to interrupt our steady progress. At an altitude about 1050 metres the spur turns to a general direction of about 40°. This top section of the spur is exquisite off-track travel through mature beech forest; enhanced on that morning with no wind, a blue sky and soft, dry ground underfoot. At the bush line there is a distinct demarcation between bush and tussock and in less that 50 metres travel in tussock we were back on the track up to Isabelle.
We had a drink stop in idyllic conditions on Mt Holdsworth before descending to Powell Hut for lunch. While there, we conversed with Sgt Murray Johnstone, SAR co-ordinator - Masterton police, who had been a marshal for the Jumbo- Holdsworth race that had been run that morning. He informed us that the winning time for the circuit had been two hours twenty minutes!
After lunch we had a straight-forward return to the car park. Mid-Waiohine Hut is a hut ‘on the way’ to somewhere and has challenging access from both the east and the west. However, for trampers wanting a ‘remote’ experience in the Tararuas, it is a wonderful place to visit.
- Party members
- Bill Allcock and Dave Reynolds