Labour Weekend 2013 in the Kaimanawas
Labour Weekend 2013
I had never been in the Kaimanawas before and so when I saw that Cathy Wylie was leading a trip into the area, I decided to put my name down. The trip plan was to overnight in Turangi on the Friday, make our way along the Umakarikari Range to Waipakihi Hut on the Saturday evening, then on the Sunday go up to Thunderbolt, camping at the bush line on Sunday evening, followed by a short walk out along the Urchin Track on the Monday. Looking at the weather forecast before we left however, gale force winds were predicted for Sunday, so we went armed with options B and C.
In order to get a head start on the Labour Weekend traffic, we left Wellington mid-afternoon on the Friday and made our way to Turangi for the evening.
We woke on Saturday morning to a cool yet blue sky day. Leaving Turangi at 7.30am we arrived at the road end at 8.00am. Whilst the majority of the party then started to make their way along the Umakarikari Track, Russell and Sieny dropped one of the cars at the other trailhead before catching us up.
The first part of the Umakarikari Track climbs steadily through a beech forest that includes some impressive rimu, and by 10am we emerged at the bush line just below 1300m; a climb of 500m. This was an excellent place to stop for morning tea and take in the views of the central North Island volcanoes.
From here the track went along a poled route, with views over the Umakarikari Range, passed Sharp Cone (1481m) and up to Umakarikari (1591m). There was very little vegetation on these rolling tops and no tarns. We stopped for lunch around 12 noon, just past Umakarikari, in a sheltered spot out of the wind.
The route then continued on the tops before heading down into the Waipakihi Valley and to Waipakihi Hut, where we arrived shortly after 2pm. By the early evening, there were 15 of us in this 12 bunk hut. The woodburner was lit and we started to prepare the evening meal. After dinner we discussed the possible options for the next day and took in the great views from the hut that overlooked Waipakihi River, before we called it a night.
As forecast, we woke on Sunday morning to wind and rain and so option C was the group preferred choice for the walk out. Option C was to walk down the Waipakihi River and then up along the Urchin Track, camping overnight en route.
We left the hut at 8.40am and we had barely gone a couple of hundred metres before we came across two Whio ducks; what a fantastic sight. We then continued to make our way down the river, along grassy flats, crossing the river where necessary. We had a brief stop for lunch (when the rain stopped) before making our way towards a camping spot, which was more or less at the base of the Urchin Track, sheltered in amongst the beech forest. We arrived here at 3.30pm, made camp and got a campfire going, which was an excellent way to finish the day.
Monday morning dawned a beautiful day, so having packed up, we walked along the river for a short distance to arrive at the base of the Urchin Track before we then climbed through a fairly steep section of forest for 300m. Once at the bush line, a poled route then went along the tops to Urchin (1392m), where we took in the great views towards the volcanoes, over the Kaimanawa Range and down into the Waipakihi Valley. From Urchin, it was then the final steady descent through the forest to the Urchin carpark and time to make our way back to Wellington after a fantastic long weekend away.
- Party members
- Anne Opie, Cathy Wylie, Tom White, Jane Boydon (scribe), Janette Roberts, Sieny Pollard, Russell Cooke. Pip Newton.