I tramped this with the school Duke of Ed group at the end of September. While the kids were free we had to pay $25 a night to stay in unserviced huts – quite a rip in the off season.
The first day we went up to the Panekiri hut. Although we stopped fairly often we made good time and arrived by 1 pm.
The hut itself is a good fridge since the heater puts out about as much heat as two matches. We had our luxury first night dinners of steak and sausages. The kids played cards but I went to bed early – for the first time in about two terms.
The next morning the cloud had closed in but it wasn’t wet. We made it to the bottom of the hill by 11, so went on to the Korokoro campsite for lunch. We caught up with the water taxi and asked to reschedule our pick up from 12 to 10.30, given our faster-than-expected pace. From here the track is basically flat with a few 50m ascents and descents as it follows the shoreline. Although the terrain wasn’t hard the track was quite long, including an insanely long walk in to one of the inlets, followed by a sharp 150m climb. Everyone was glad to see the Marauiti hut at about 4pm.
The hut had a decent heater and a separate bunkroom. The kids went swimming for about 0.8 seconds before the weather closed in. Once again I had an early night and so over the past two nights I’d managed more sleep than in the whole of term 3.
The next morning there was a low mist but it quickly burned off.
The whole way around we had these souvenir calendar views. We reached the new hut at Waiharuru by 10am. This is a fantastic hut – 40 bunks, huge kitchen – and it was EMPTY. We decided to go on to Whanganui to make the next day easier and reached it by 12. This is only a small hut and quite old, and apparently prone to being filled up by boaties who don’t book, because it was the only place that we had our hut passes checked. We had so much time to fill in that the kids spent all afternoon building a fort.
The last day we went out to the water taxi pick up point – only a 35min walk, so we had a long wait. We managed to fill in about 30 min trying to use all the self timers on our cameras with some interesting results. The taxi arrived at 11.30 and we were on the road by 12.
On the way home we stopped at the site of Fort Galatea – the HQ for the invasion of the Uruweras during the pursuit of Te Kooti (1868-71). It’s signposted from the highway, about 3 km up a side road. The site has some decent information signs (unlike a lot of historic sites in NZ). It has the remains of a homestead (only the chimney remains) and a horse-powered generator. The second redoubt is still clear, but a bit overgrown and fenced off from the public.
The kids weren’t that impressed.
We went on and managed to get back to Auckland by 7pm.