Middle Hill Hut – Makino Hut, 19-20 May 2018
Banner Pix: Heading down the second gorge (from the Middle Hill side).
Once again, the forecast high winds thwarted plans for tops travel, which meant the overnight tramp to Back Ridge hut had to be changed.
Just three ladies, Juliet, Fiona and I braved the weekend weather and headed for Makino Hut on the lower slopes of the Kaweka Range. We decided to make a full day of it, tramping in to Middle Hill Hut then across “the three gorges “ to Makino.
We started off with wind and very light drizzle and it stayed like that for most of the day. On meeting two hunters on their way out, we learned Middle Hill Hut had been full overnight, and on reaching it we noticed it was occupied but no one was to be seen. I wasn’t very impressed with the plastic bags and tinfoil that had been left in the fireplace – “if you can take it in, you can take it out” – and nor was I impressed with the open fireplace leaving the hut reeking of smoke.For us, though, it was the challenge of the gorges! Juliet had not done this tramp before and Fiona only once, and were a little apprehensive, but we made good time and stopped for a quick lunch at the bottom of the second gorge. Thankfully, the track has now been cleared of debris from the previous year’s snow storms, making for pleasant walking among the beech trees on the plateau before plunging down again for one last climb.
Tired legs made this last climb seem longer, but soon the signpost on the main Makino track was reached, with high fives all round as we celebrated only taking 4 1/4 hours (the signpost had said 4-5).It seemed to take an age from there to Makino, and the bright orange hut was a very welcome sight. The hut was beautifully tidy and the fire was still warm from the previous visitors, so it didn’t take long to bring it back to life and we settled in for a nice evening. After a heavy shower of rain, the sky cleared for a pretty sunset with the moon and bright stars showing soon after.
Next morning we breakfasted, tidied up and cut firewood to replace what we had used, then headed back along Makino Ridge to the road and down to the car. It was a beautiful morning; the Kaweka tops were clear of yesterday’s clag, bringing thoughts of what might have been.
Never mind, we enjoyed the challenge of the “gorges” with full packs, but it will be day packs next time!
Trampers: Juliet Gillick (Photos), Fiona Bryant, and reporter Alison Greer