Start Point: Poads Road, Levin
Finish Point: Otaki Forks
Tues 16th Dec: Day 65 – Tararuas, 16km, 9 1/2 hours
Today I went into the Tararuas so the walkers who had signed up, had to commit for three days of walking. Three walkers did sign up…Graeme (my husband), Jeanette (who has already walked with me for seven days up North) and Natalie (who’s Aunty has walked with me already too).
We set off and got wet feet straight away. Then the track headed up and up and continued pretty much like that for three hours. We started at 150m and climbed to 960m so we had a climb of 800m. The track was nice and well marked. We took a couple of breaks for food and resting.
At lunch time, we reached Waitepehu Hut which had a great balcony and views over Levin. I couldn’t stop taking photos. The weather was warm and sunny. It was such a clear, blue day. We ate, dried out our shoes and feet and lazed in th sun/shade.
We then had a big climb to a trig followed by another climb to Richard’s Knob (many jokes about this). There was some steep downhill that tested the knees. I also had a weta jump on my arm and latch on. It put it’s barbs in and wouldn’t shake off so I had to pull it off and was left with a bleeding arm.
It was very hot out in the open so any shade was a welcome relief. We had a few more rest stops and then even though we were all zapped we powered onto the hut. Seven others joined us at the hut that night. It was a tough day tramping but the views were definitely making it worth it.
Wed 17th Dec: Day 66 – Tararuas, 13km, 9 hours
Today was an exhausting day!
The day started with an uphill climb up to Pukematawai (1432m). This was up above the bush line so we were blown around by the wind. It tried to push me over a couple of times so I was staggering like I was drunk. There were parts that I would describe more like rock climbing than tramping as we crawled up the steep slopes.
The views at the top were amazing and it really did feel like we were on top of the world. It was pretty windy and you could see the cloud hugging the mountain tops and coming in towards us. It was amazing to watch it come in.
Poor Natalie was feeling nauseous so was a toughie to get through this climbing part. We enjoyed the view for a while and then moved on before getting too cold.
The track was then undulating and we talked about how it would be easy to fall over. Ten seconds later Jeanette did. Luckily it didn’t lead to an injury. We reached a small bright orange hut to eat our lunch (only sleeps two people).
The afternoon was heaps of up and down. We were too tired to talk or laugh. When we were above the tree line it was quite windy and rocky. Below the tree line was better and you felt like you were walking through a secret forest with moss covering and hanging off all the trees.
This day was starting feel like torture and we knew we didn’t have far to go but this included a huge up to finish us off so we ended up getting to the hut totally spent. We all cooked up our dinner and tried to get an early night. Just as we were drifting off the rain started. We knew it was coming!
Thurs 18th Dec: Day 67 – Tararuas, 20km, 11 hours
We got up at 4.15am, knowing today was going to be a long day and we had a wet track to contend with. Also we needed to beat the wind and get down from the high ridges to the safer altitude as quick as possible.
So the first part of our day involved being rained on and wind that was blowing you around. I had the hood up on my jacket but it was hurting the side of my face as the rain pelted into me. We walked as fast as was possible to get out of this horrible weather.
Once we were into the trees the wind died down. But then we were doing a huge downhill section. We descended 1240m which my knees didn’t like at all. At one stage I yelled out “I hate downhill” and the others agree with me.
It was so steep we were hanging off the trees around us and sliding on our butts. It took us until 10.30am to reach the hut for our only break of the day.
It started raining heavy again and we were walking through loads of mud with regular stream crossings. The mud made the walking slow going. We then had a diversion due to a slip on the track. This track was narrow, had many vines to trip us up and was very muddy with lots of obstacles to go over and under. Natalie keep saying “this is not a track” as it was such a horrible track to walk on and so on the edge in parts.
Jeanette had a big fall and twisted her knee. It was lucky a tree she was holding onto eased the fall. She was able to walk on which was great as it would’ve been horrible conditions to have a serious injury in.
Everything was wet and we weren’t eating or resting enough due to the weather. My legs felt heavy and I was starting to get cold. We had been going 10 hours by now and it was becoming really tough to keep going. We were all knackered and just wanting to be dry and warm. We crossed a swing bridge and walked 3km to another one, before seeing the end carpark.
My friend Niki was there to pick us up and she was the best sight in the world. She said welcome to sunny Otaki and we had a laugh at how Otaki Forks is nice in Summer. It is summer now huh?
Thanks Graeme, Natalie and Jeanette for toughing out three days of really rugged tramping. You are all amazingly strong and resilient.