Kiwi Mouth Hut via Smith Russell track and Cameron Track, Kiwi Saddle Hut and then Studholme Bivvy. Map: BJ37.
Queens Birthday Weekend, June 1 – 3 (Saturday-Monday) 2013
Well, well, so much for all the naysayers – “don’t go up to the tops, you will be blown off… the huts will be cold at this time of year… the weather forecast is for rain starting on Sunday… Hutt Valley Tramping Club’s also heading to Kiwi Mouth Hut”…
Those negative comments meant that we had something to prove.
Les and I met the van of NTC day trippers who were heading for the lower Macintosh Hut circuit. And then we met the six Hutt Valley trampers, still getting their act together at the Lakes car park. They all had tents, so accommodation would not be an issue. Les and I were travelling light.
We made it up to the Kuripapango trig and just kept going, as it was not warm. We found ourselves catching up to four NTC club members who had opted to tramp to Kiwi Saddle Hut. But we stopped just below the drop-off for Kiwi Saddle to put on some more gear, before we reached the exposed tops. We took the Cameron Hut track, so did not go to Kiwi Saddle Hut. This track affords some great views of the Ngaruroro River, and the Te Iringa tops and track which we used to take down to the swingbridge. The bridge has now been removed, and permission is required to go up to Te Iringa.
The wind was easily manageable, and eventually the Cameron track which follows a ridgeline, enters the bush. We stopped now and again to take in the views. After passing the first turn-off, we headed for the small saddle which connects with the high level track between Kiwi Mouth and Kiwi Saddle Huts. The track received maintenance in February 2013, and is wide and well marked. Many trees have been cut down and the tussock in the open areas been cut.
After reaching the second junction, we stopped again for lunch in the sunshine. Blue sky all around.
From here, it was downhill to Kiwi Mouth Hut. On arrival, we woke two hunters having their afternoon nap. There were two beds left in the hut, which we nabbed. Then time for a wash whilst we were still warm, and the sun was out. Kiwi Mouth Hut is close to the confluence of Kiwi Creek/Stream and the Ngaruroro River. Although cold, I braved a full dunking, and it felt exhilarating. The hunters took an afternoon wander, and we settled in.
A good evening, with stories about Papua New Guinea travel experiences ensued.
The next morning, Les and I took off, mentally prepared for the uphill using the high level track to Kiwi Saddle. It took us 2hrs and 40 minutes.
After a break in the sunshine on the grass outside Kiwi Saddle Hut, we continued on to our planned destination, Studholme Saddle Hut. The day was again sunny with blue sky and only a light wind.
By the last climb up Kaiarahi, it was getting cold and so we did not stop for too long, making our way around to the Macintosh Hut junction, and then, to the high point 1408, where we dropped down to Studholme Bivvy. Built in 1958, this is the oldest bivvy in the Kaweka Forest Park, according to the DoC website.
DoC has done some more work on the bivvy, which has received a paint job and been relocated a short distance nearer to the bushline. Well done, Hans, for your good work.
We decided to stay at the bivvy, but had a quick look at Studholme Saddle Hut. It is only 12 minutes walk from the bivvy, a little longer if carrying a full pack. It too has received the maintenance treatment.
Back at the bivvy, we settled in and enjoyed the cosy atmosphere. The night, as had the previous one, was clear with bright stars. No southerly change just yet.
On Monday (Queens Birthday), we made our way back to the tops and up Kaiarahi, and along to Rogue Ridge. We had to keep moving to stay warm, but enjoyed the blue sky yet again.
The sign for the old Kaweka Hut track off the tops seems to have had an accident. The waratahs were still in the ground, but no track sign. What has happened to it?
Once off the tops, it is an easy cruise back to the car park. There were still a lot of cars, but somehow we had not met anyone since leaving Kiwi Mouth Hut.
Les and I were pleased that we had got a two-night tramp in before the real winter started, and the next long weekend in October. A great tramp circuit in the Kaweka Forest Park.
Trampers: Les O’Shea and Julia Mackie