Kiwi Saddle Hut, Kaweka FP, Sat/Sun 2/3 June 2018. Map: BJ37
The scheduled Queen’s Birthday weekend to Mt Hikurangi was postponed due to a large depression which brought heavy rain to the East Cape area. We were lucky, because many homes were damaged and roads closed due to flooding – and we would have had a hard time getting home. So, a good decision.
Instead we opted to head to Kiwi Saddle Hut, which can be reached by several different routes. Sue Martin reports on the tramp via Kuripapango and the Smith Russell track:Although rain was not forecast for Saturday, the air was full of moisture and it was bitterly cold. As we tramped, we came across lots of ice and snow patches on either side of the track. Three of us made the gradual route up to Kuripapongo, trying to catch a glimpse of the lakes below at each bend. When we reached the top, we looked for a track to the trig. Because of all the overgrowth and no definite path (and we couldn’t even see the trig) we decided against it.
The track was very sheltered. But those gaps where you can usually get very good views over Napier, the Ngaruroro River and ranges were not so rewarding today. It was too misty and cloudy. At one point, we put on our coats, hats and I even put on my snow mitts as the temperature was slowly dropping.
Halfway along, we stopped for a bite and a cuppa. It was surprising that along the exposed places on the ridge, there was no wind. Once we passed the Cameron Hut turnoff, some cloud had lifted, and there were brief views over the ranges to the west and the Kaimanawas. It was a pleasant but cold walk.
Once at Kiwi Saddle Hut, which was in good shape, we cut some firewood and lit the fire. Huddled around it, we ate lunch and waited for the others to arrive.
Julia Mackie takes up the other story:
Four of us took the track up Rogue Ridge and then to Kaiarahi, the high point at 1507m. Cloud on the tops did not bode well for any views. Just before the last small climb up to Kaiarahi, we all agreed that the sidle track would be best today. Once on the track heading to Castle Camp, the clouds parted and we could see across to Back Ridge and beyond to the snow-capped Kaimanawa Ranges in the distance.
We took a lunch break in Castle Camp, and an opportunity to refill water bottles. The walk along the ridges is exposed, and those in shorts were feeling the cold. So, no stopping unless to gaze at the distant snowy Kaimanawa Ranges.We arrived at Kiwi Saddle Hut three minutes after two oclock (three minutes later than my predicted timing). A warm fire was going, and we had a hot brew with our usual pre-dinner nibbles. An impromptu trip planning brainstorm came to an end when a tramping party of five arrived, well after dark. Many groups were in the Kaweka FP over the longer weekend. The hut is a eight-bunker (two platforms), but we also squeezed two on the platform above the door, and two on the floor. With NTC’s seven and five from Wellington, we got 12 in for the night.
In the morning, we waited until the Wellington tramping party were up and fed before we rose and prepared our own breakfasts. The forecast rain had not yet arrived, but we were all wanting to get home before it hit.
It did, just as we were leaving the Lakes car park.
The tramp was cold but we got unexpected views on Saturday, followed by a cold and damp Sunday.
Trampers: Tony, Jenny, Sue (report), Alison, Fiona, Simon, Julia (photos and report).