Te Puia Hut and Hot Springs (via Makino Ridge/Mohaka River), Saturday, February 27
Trampers: Ted Angove, Paul Exeter, Matt Green, Wade Sawyer, Viv Bramley, John Marshall, John Russell, Murray Goss, Ray Slavin, Sue Marshall, Geoff Donkin, and Jude Paton
Twelve keen trampers set out for one of our favourite destinations: Te Puia Hut and the hot springs, which has to be the best one day walk in Hawke’s Bay. We were amazed at the extent of debris at the ford after the heavy rain a few weeks ago and pleased the steep section of road had been recently graded. The initial plan was that the majority would head up Makino Ridge and make a round trip of it.
However, by the time we reached the drop off point, seven of us had opted instead for the cruisy option of trekking in along the river, leaving five to hot foot it over Makino. The rest left the car park at 8.45am in cool, overcast conditions.
But the cloud soon burned off and the sunny, blue-sky day we’d been promised eventuated. The first cluster of three reached the empty hut two hours later after a leisurely amble with several drink and snack stops and photo opportunities. Along the way, we chatted to a Czech couple apple-picking in HB who had spent the night in the hut, and four others from Manawatu on their way back out. Some had morning tea on the riverbank, others sitting on the bench outside and another reading the paper at the table inside (cruisy all right!). We studied the occupancy board and noted 19 people had stayed in the hut on January 5. John M returned to report the Makino lot was already down and making their way across the swing-bridge… they really didn’t waste time! Off we set in dribs and drabs, being that sort of day and that sort of track.
We lunched on the riverbank, having decided it was way too warm for the hot pools. Debate followed as to whether it was way too cold for the river… or whether it might be merely refreshing. In the end, no one was game to venture in and tell us. We were touched by the poem on a stone above the river, a tribute to a tramper who had died, by his mates. And we spotted a beautiful Red Admiral butterfly flitting next to the river, which alighted, delicately opened its wings and allowed us to take its photo. Unfortunately the midges liked us a bit too much, so we didn’t linger too long before heading back. Wade did his best to find the tree with a large stick insect they’d seen on the way in… but which tree? In the end, he went one better and found another tree right next to the track with five large stick insects on it, four brown and one green … tricky things to photograph, flat up against the bark and blending in!
We paused at the hut before continuing and met a family of four heading in for the night plus a couple of other guys. Geoff obligingly pointed out the way up to the natural archway, a five- minute clamber up the bank. The tale of a large stone under which an opposum is buried made for a good story. A couple of us decided we could do with cooling off before we tackled the last hill for the day, after coming across Ray and Gossy towelling off from a swim in the river. It was certainly refreshing, but did the trick, and we motored up the hill… sort of. We paused to watch a couple of guys trout fishing in the river, but Gossy didn’t fancy their chances!
We returned to the van about 3:45pm to find the others resting in the shelter, and headed home shortly after.