Holmes Ridge Track to Stanfield Hut, Ruahine FP, Saturday July 25 2020. Map: BL36
Banner Pix: Heading towards Stanfield Hut along the Tamaki River West Branch by John Russell
We set off from Taradale on a beautiful wintry day, heading south towards the Ruahine Ranges. We saw new-born lambs, including many twins and triplets – amazing.
As we drove closer to our destination, through the frosty paddocks around Dannevirke, we could see a dark haze just above the area we were heading for. It was not looking good, but the weather report had been reassuring. At the end of Tamaki West Road, we stopped. It was windy and cold, so the jackets came out. Misty, soft drizzle fell and 15 of us chose to follow the Holmes Ridge Track to the Stanfield Hut and back the same way.
Two others in our group were continuing on to spend the night at the Cattle Creek Hut. Four other trampers walked up to the A-Frame Hut, along the top ridge on the other side of the river, down to Stanfield Hut and onwards to stay at Cattle Creek Hut.
Starting just after 0900, we crossed the Tamaki River West Branch. It was narrow, fairly rapid, near knee-deep in places, starting the day with wet shoes, socks and cold feet. These wet-feet crossings continued during the four-hour walk. That was a new experience for at least one newbie. Sometimes we crossed in threes, arm-in-arm to help each other.
The farm track along the ridge was an enjoyable up and down. We were sheltered from the wind, and the drizzle had stopped. We could see that pigs had dug up grassy mud patches along parts of a 4WD track. There was very little bird-sound, just the river flow.
Leaving the farm track, the tramping route headed down to the river. Care was needed on wet, slippery tree roots, and the mud. No stopping for sit-down morning tea because the hut was near. We met a hunter who told us that ‘it is hands and knees weather further up’. I looked at his rifle in some awe.
The small orange hut appeared sooner than expected but only a few of us could eat our packed lunch inside. The small wooden verandah and the three-person bench seat sheltered the rest of us from a very light drizzle.
On our return leg, the sun shone through the trees and punga at times and out onto the few open spaces. At the largest open space, the bank fell steeply down to the river. A full view here too of the mountain range rising above. The sound of a fantail was special before reaching our vehicles.
Driving away towards home, it was lovely to see the snow-capped Ruahine Range, with white cottonwool clouds stretching along above the snow and blue sky above that. The sun was shining all around us.
The Tikokino Hotel was open. We stopped for a refreshment, a light social time together and an appreciation of a really great kiwi country pub.
Trampers: John Russell, Su Nugent, Margaret Palmer, Rosemary Jeffery, Shone Tupe, Sarah Patterson, Bruce Hodgson, Juliet Gillick, Viv Bramley, Di Reid, Jane Howden, John Bennett, Matthew Nisbett, Lynette Morgan and reporter Gaye Gasser