Kiwi Mouth Hut, Kaweka FP, 11-12 February 2023
Banner Photo: From HP 1238 there are a few open clay and scree slopes before reaching the bushline heading down to Kiwi Mouth Hut
Alison, Juliet and I arrived at the Lakes car park to find several cars that looked as though they’d been there overnight. Around 8.15, we set off up Kuripapango. The weather was relatively settled and quite warm at times.
At the end of Russell Smith Track, we took a short break on the tops. Initially the view was obscured by swirling cloud but that soon lifted to show the Ngaruroro River way down below, and the direction we were heading. We carried on down to Kiwi Saddle Hut for an early lunch, as it had taken three hours from the car park.
While enjoying a sit-down in the sun, we heard what sounded like someone running down. Surprisingly, it was. This bloke/nutter had been dropped off at the Cameron car park and was running to the hot pools! He had done it in the other direction two weeks earlier in 11 hours. Exhausting just thinking about it…
Leaving the hut around 11.45, we set off to the junction where we needed to decide: Do we go low and follow Kiwi Stream or high up and way down to the hut? The vote was for over the top. It was a good slog up and along steep old washouts, looking for cairns and the odd waratah.
There was a stunning view at the top of our last, long tramp down to the river – and somewhere down there lay Kiwi Mouth Hut. It was very steep and hard on the legs and feet. My legs were decidedly jelly-like by the time we hit the bottom; it seemed as though we’d never get there. This is a four-bed hut and we were glad to have it to ourselves. A cute, tidy little place, which may no longer be there after the recent flooding.
After visiting Kiwi Stream for a refreshing wash, we agreed that the high road had been the better option. The stream was fairly full and running quite fast. It would have taken us a lot longer than our six and a half hours (including breaks) to get to the hut.
We managed to spend some time down by the Ngaruroro where the stream meets it, enjoying the peace and quiet before the drizzle set in.
There was some rain overnight but not as much as expected and sleep was OK.
Knowing that we were likely to get quite wet heading out, we left the hut about 7.15am. Once again a hard slog up for about an hour and a half with heavy drizzle setting in again towards the top. We stopped to put on raincoats (but later regretted not putting on pants or a warmer top) and pack covers, expecting more uphill. We thought we would keep warm.
The track going further up was quite exposed and then the weather really set in with horizontal rain and a wind-chill that Alison put at single figures. Not sure I’ve ever been so cold. We couldn’t really stop until we reached some tree cover. Layering up was difficult as our fingers wouldn’t move!
What a relief to feel a bit warmer. From there it was back up to the Russell Smith Track and Kuripapango. As we started getting lower, the temperature rose and the sun came out.
We made it back to the car in five and a half hours and then the rain started up again, just to make it difficult to get changed.
What bliss once the car got going with the heat flowing through.
We made it out well before Gabrielle.
Trampers: Alison Greer, Juliet Gillick and reporter Michele Ericksen
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