A severe gale-force wind from the west was the forecast for the day. Great! So west we went, over the Gentle Annie to the Sparrowhawk Range.
We parked just over the bridge that crosses the Taruarau River in surprisingly calm conditions and made our way up the very steep four-wheel-drive track, through scrubby regenerating bush, reaching the trig around an hour later. The trig sits at 989m and has fabulous views back towards the Gentle Annie and west over Ngmatea and the central plateau.
We hunkered down behind manuka bushes on the lee side, out of the increasingly strong wind, to assess the situation. The wind was definitely getting stronger; perhaps we did not have much time left to make it to the high point.
We continued on over several more little bumps, reaching a clearing just before the last climb. Here we called a halt as the wind whipped over and around the ridge, leaving the climb up to the 1165m mark very exposed and difficult.
Then it was into full retreat. We made it back to the van by 11.30am, and high-tailed it out of there, back over the Annie to Blowhard Bush for lunch. After a quick look round Blowhard, it was back to town.
Trampers: Hilary Heath-Caldwell, Vic Bullock, Robyn Smith, Les O’Shea, John Marshall, Peter Slagter,
and reporter Alison Greer