Mackintosh Hut, Kaweka FP, Saturday 12 August 2023
Banner Photo:The author (Julian) looking at something or other in the snow
We met at Park Island on a fine but frosty morning, and picked up Di along the way. It was an uneventful van ride until we got to Blowhard Bush where some careful driving from there to the Lakes car park was required, due to surface snow and ice.
Campbell and I started off from the Lakes to Mackintosh Hut, while the rest tramped to the hut from the Mackintosh car park.
Lakes to Mackintosh:
Campbell had a minor stumble crossing the river when he slipped on an icy rock and ended up with wet boots. But we were both fairly warm after climbing the first hill to the Rogue Ridge turn-off, where we took off a layer of clothing.
The snow was reasonably deep in places (especially on the southerly shaded sides of hills) and there was a lot of snow-laden manuka hanging over the track which we had to push through. Campbell’s walking poles came in handy for knocking off the snowflakes.
Apart from a few minor slips and the odd lump of snow dropping down the back of our necks, the walk through to Mackintosh Spur intersection was uneventful and achieved in good time.
At the intersection, we met a couple from our group who were marking an arrow for us to show that some had already gone up the spur (good timing). After a short discussion, we decided to venture up the spur as well and meet everyone back at the hut.
So up we went, to about half-way, got a few nice views and then walked down to the hut for lunch (ten minutes for Campbell and myself and half an hour for the others).
Mackintosh car park to hut:
Although I wasn’t on this part of the trip, I was told that the hike up the new section of the track from the bridge to the hilltop was very hard and slippery. It goes straight up a ridge line with few switchbacks to reduce the rate of ascent.
Hut to Mackintosh car park:
The first section, until we got to the new track, was very pleasant. From there, it was a quick, steep descent to the river, which involved lots of slipping, sliding and sore thighs, plus a few muddy backsides by the time we reached the bottom (some intentional, but most not).
There remained the final uphill push to the car park, which everyone made in reasonable time. The weather held fine and fairly calm for the entire day.
On the way home, we passed a couple of families at Blowhard Bush, playing in the snow. By the time we reached Park Island, there was a fair amount of cloud over the Kawekas – so we had accidentally timed it well.
Trampers: John Dobbs, Campbell Living, Di Reid, Fiona Bryant, Sue Martin, John Russell, Rosemary Jeffery, Marie Deroles, Sue Gribble, Nelia Schulze, Carla Voigt and reporter Julian Phillips
Editor’s note: It took a small team of workers, organised and supported by the Back Country Trust, three hard days to complete this new route, restoring safe access to Mackintosh.