Studholme Saddle Hut, Kaweka FP, Saturday May 31 2014
The best day over Queen’s Birthday weekend was Saturday – just the day we planned to walk from Makahu car park to Studholme Saddle Hut. But the clouds hanging about at 7 am did not match the TV weather forecast. We decided that it would lift, and so continued with our plan.
We reached Dominie Bivvy, which had a refurbishment with fresh paint in March this year. Looking good and thank you, DoC.
As we climbed higher, we emerged from the thin cloud into blue sky and sunshine. The ground was covered in a slight dusting of snow, and the tussock grasses were works of art. What a beautiful sight.
We had with us two newbies to the Kaweka Ranges and the tops (and the Napier Tramping Club). We chased a rainbow all morning.
On reaching the tops, we admired the view of Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe on the horizon. Cloud covered Hawke’s Bay and the western views but we bathed in sunshine. We reached the memorial cairn and took the obligatory group photo. Then walked on to the Studholme Hut track, which branches off Mad Dog Hill, down to the bush. On reaching the final steep drop down to the hut, I checked my watch. With lower winter light levels, and cold earlier in the afternoon, I thought we would be pushing it to go down to the hut and return in good time. I was also concerned about the ice on the rocks we had to negotiate. Although some may have melted, the walk down would not be the usual easy quick trip.
So we stopped and found a place to have lunch out of the wind. The cloud cover we were under again was chilling, so we did not spend too much time over lunch.
After climbing back up to Mad Dog Hill, we regained the sunshine and warmth. We had plenty of time to enjoy the walk back, and the savour the snowy scene.
Trampers: Craig Smith, Juliet Gillick, Marc Marchal and reporter Julia Mackie