Howletts via Daphne Spur Track then Longview, Saturday-Sunday, April 24-25 2010. Map BL36 Norsewood
Trampers: Alison Greer, Murray McIndoe and Julia Mackie
Reaching the end of Kashmir Road, we took a look at the cloud hanging about the Ruahine tops, judged the wind and decided that we would go to Howletts via the Daphne Hut track. Ray Slavin kindly volunteered to help bring back our vehicle to the Longview car park. We set off at 8.50, heading across the Moorcock Stream and along the unofficial farmland route.
We reach the bushline and head up to rejoin the main track, where we stop for a snack at 10.30. Then it’s downhill to the Tukituki River, and a few crossings until we reach the start of the Howletts track. We stop again to take off boots and drain them, and wring out our wet socks. We decide that it is too early for lunch, and head off up the track at 11.40. After 20 minutes of steep climb, we stop for a 10-minute breather, then continue on until 12.40 when we stop for lunch. The wind above the tree-line can be heard and we realise that the decision to take this track was the right one. The tops would have been very cold and windy today. All windfall has been cleared from the track so, apart from the incline, it is easy walking.
We reach Howletts Hut at 1.40, so we have walked it in the 2hrs, plus had 30 minutes of break time. We are doing well… The cloud is hanging about the tops to the west; however, we are in the clear, and can see the eastern vistas. But it is not warm, and so we have a hot cuppa, and take stock of our firewood supplies. We grab the empty coal bags and axe and head off searching for firewood. Luckily there is plenty about, and with Murray’s strength we bring back some big logs as well as smaller stuff. This takes time, but the weather is closing in, and it is getting even colder. We get the pot belly going, and soon have a good warm temperature in the hut. After a wash, we settle down with some red wine and cheese, courtesy of Murray, and have a natter.
After darkness falls, we all cook and enjoy our evening meals. The cloud has come down, so we are not able to see the coastal lights, and light rain begins to fall. We are cosy and warm… wonderful. We had the hut to ourselves, with Murray taking the penthouse, and Alison and I on the lower deck.
The next morning, cloud was lifting and we were up for the Anzac dawn sunrise. A good view from the loo. The wind was not too strong, so we set off for Longview at 8.15. The track is through leatherwood for a short time, before becoming grassy tops walking up to Taumatataua 1415, after which you soon see the saddle and route up to the 1452 high point. The alternate track down to Daphne Hut is at the top of the saddle, and is marked to take 1.5 hours. It’s one none of us has done, so we must give it a go sometime.
We can see the route up to Otumore 1519, but the top is in cloud. A one-minute stop before the last ascent up to the turn off down to Longview. It was too cold to linger for longer, but we could enjoy the views through to the Manawatu and out east.
The descent from Otumore is just as bad as usual. Deep holes filled with water and mud in two sections of this descent, however we were all glad to be out of the wind. Looking back, we could see the tops we had walked last month coming over from Iron Gate. We had no views then, but could see Tunupo 1568 today. We reached Longview Hut at 11.45, so were pleased with the 3.5 hour time we had taken.
A good long lunch break in Longview Hut, with a hot cuppa. Two day trampers from Palmerston North were also lunching there. It was drizzly in the west so they had come to the east coast for fine weather. Lucky us.
The trip down back to the van was quick as usual, with a stop to look back up to Longview Hut, and the horizon beyond before we reached the bottom. A very satisfying trip for us all, and the weather had been kind at last.