Waihaha Hut, Pueroa Forest Park, July 28-29 2012
A good turn-out for the weekend trip: nine trampers left Napier in light drizzle heading for Pueroa Forest Park on the western side of Lake Taupo. Once over the hills, the weather cleared leaving a heavy frost on the plains and around Taupo. A quick loo stop, then it was onwards, turning toward Kinloch and the Western access road.
The road to Waihora Lagoon is well signposted and we reached the car park around 9.30. It was very chilly -but sunny – as we busied ourselves for the trip. First it was the 600m walk to Waihora Lagoon. What an impressive sight! Beautiful kahikatea trees reflected in perfectly still water. Due to recent rain, the viewing platform was just under water but that did not deter us from getting some good photos.
Paul and Ted volunteered to drive the vehicles round to the next car park and walk into the 10-bunk Waihaha Hut the shorter way, while Simon and his harem of six ladies set off along the Waihora track. It’s a four-wheel-drive route to start with, lots of muddy puddles with thick ice on top, and then gradually passes into thicker native bush. Because the sun couldn’t penetrate the thick bush, it was cold and we were glad of hats and gloves.
What a magnificent piece of native forest the park is! Huge podocarps, rimu, totara, kahikatea, the smaller miro, beech, and tree fuchsia with their distinctive peeling bark. Ferns, mosses and lots of regeneration added to the lush undergrowth; it was a joy to be walking through.
Lunch was in a small patch of sun just after reaching the junction of the main Waihaha/Bog Inn track which runs along the Hauhungaroa Range. We had a bit of a surprise when we reached the steep sharp drop down to Mangatu Stream… a crossing which would entail getting wet feet! The sharp climb up made sure our feet stayed warm and it was another 45 minutes to the hut, arriving round 3.15pm.
The boys had just got the fire going, after having trouble lighting it. They said it was jammed packed with ash and left-over rubbish, plus the hut was very untidy with lots of trash and old smelly rags and towels left lying round. Can’t understand why people think they should leave their rubbish for others to pick up or burn! Once the fire is going, it’s very efficient (thanks DoC, for the coal) and ensured a cosy night.
On Sunday, we woke to the predicted light drizzle, so it was coats on for the 2½-hour tramp out to the road end.
Starting in forest, we quickly lost height and the bush changed to areas of tanekaha (celery pine) then scrubby manuka, as we walked beside the Waihaha River. There are one or two look-outs to the central plateau mountains, which Ted assured us were there and looking beautiful, but all we could see was white cloud! The water spills and tumbles over fascinating rocks, down small chutes, waterfalls and cascades before finally slowing into a deep, slow-moving river.
By 11.30, we had reached the bridge on the main road beyond which was the car park, where once again we were disgusted by the rubbish left lying round.
Thanks team for a great weekend; it is a real privilege to journey through one of New Zealand’s finest forests.
Trampers: Paul Exeter, Ted Angove, Sue Titter, Sue Martin, Sue Marshall, Jenny Burns, Simon Hill and reporter Alison Greer