Ruapehu, Tongariro NP, 1-6 March 2019
Banner Pix: Wakapapaiti Hut
The 14 club members who went on the annual trip to Ruapehu were treated to the best possible weather one could ask for. Sunny, little wind, warm and with views (continuously clear of clouds) of not only the three mountains in the Tongariro National Park in all their glory but also Taranaki in the distance.
This year, we changed accommodation from the ATC Ski Lodge (which is no longer available) to the Alpine Sports Club A-Frame Ski Lodge, further up the Bruce Road.The A-Frame was superior in every way – with one exception, the access. It was a long walk up a difficult path, about five times further and five times steeper. Aside from this, the facilities were clean, dry (no musty smells from the bunk rooms) and spacious. The cost per night included dinner and breakfast but we had to supply perishables such as bread and milk. There was enough food in the various storage areas to feed an army. We were met upon arrival by Robert Oddy from Alpine Sports, who was there doing maintenance. He showed us around and was a big help in getting our baggage up to the lodge. Robert left us the next day.
Unfortunately, Jenny’s work colleague Ave was unable to join because of a family crisis. We were booked in for 61 bed nights in total, with most numbers over the weekend.
Access to the chairlift and up to the café and the mountain beyond was effectively blocked by construction crews installing a gondola chairlift. A detour route was provided, but any plans to reach the crater were put on hold until next year. We arrived about 1.00 pm on the Friday and watched a continuous stream of helicopters carrying ready mixed concrete to the work sites right up until dusk.
The tramp for the main group on Saturday was from Scoria Flats on the Bruce Road, starting on the round-the-mountain track and continuing down the Whakapapaiti River and track, finally emerging 4.5 hours later at the Mangahuia camping ground on the main highway.Sunday’s tramp for the main group was from the top of the Ohakune Mountain Road, taking the northwards section of the round-the-mountain track; climbing down the Cascades; having lunch at the Mangaturuturu Hut and then climbing to Lake Surprise; and returning via the same route.
By now the numbers were dwindling but, on Monday, three intrepid females walked through to Mangatepopo Hut from the village. They were picked up later at the car park/drop-off for the Tongariro Crossing. In the afternoon, we attempted to find some caves reputed to be on the western side of Highway 47. However, what the maps indicate, the sign boards indicate and what’s reality appear to be three separate locations. That’s a challenge for next year.
On the Tuesday, we were down to four trampers (two with tired limbs) and a mountain bike rider. So it was a combination of Taranaki Falls, Silica Rapids and all points in between.
Wednesday was clean-up time, and departure after an excellent week. We stopped off in Turangi for the usual coffee at the Licorice Café, and the trip home was uneventful compared to last year with the floods in the Esk Valley.
Trampers: Vic Bullock, Ted Angove, Robyn Smith, Paul Exeter, Carol and Gordon Tapp, Pauline Loughran, Ray Slavin, John Burrell, Jenny Burns, Denise Bavidge, Geoff Greer (the cyclist), Simon Hill and scribe Kelvin Shaw