Koranga Forks – Tawa Circuit, Waioeka Conservation Area, 12-14 October 2020Feeling an urge to see an area not visited before, nine of us drove for almost five hours to Moanui road end, about 30km from Matawai on State Highway 2 between Gisborne and Opotiki.
The Waioeka Conservation Area borders Te Urewera to the west and is described by DoC as an area of outstanding beauty. We found this to be true – and with few visitors, according to the hut books. Day one
The two-night tramp starts from a grassed parking area next to the Koranga River and runs parallel to it to our first night’s stop at Koranga Forks Hut. Strangely, the river runs down into the hills. The first 40 minutes’ walk is a poled route over private farmland. The weather had turned misty and damp, but not enough to dampen our spirits. We were warm and excited. The rolling farmland gave way to clean, fresh and lush bush, almost tropical-looking and in keeping with the damp, cloudy air. It was only three hours to the hut and we arrived about 3.30.
This was a six-bunk hut and there were nine of us. Now, given that it had started to lightly rain, you would be forgiven for thinking there was a scramble for the hut bunks; but no, those of us with tents were keen to use them and we set up a little tent town nestled in the bush under the pungas. John, who had a new bivvy-bag, wanted to try it out in the rain to see if it worked. I was keen to try out my new super lightweight blow-up mattress in my tent. It weighs only 75grams and was fantastic! There were two empty bunks in the hut that night.
Our destination, Tawa Hut, was six hours away up the Kahunui Stream. Overnight rain had us a little concerned. We knew if the river level rose much, the walk would be dangerous. The river was marginally up but looked safe enough. This river valley is beautiful; it was shrouded in mist and with absolutely no breeze. It looked mysterious. We saw whio and trout.
The rain was light but steady and this time only Colin and Matt were game enough to pitch and sleep in their tents. The rest of us double-bunked (not really; I slept on the floor).
The low cloud and mist cleared to a blue sky. Tawa Hut has a beautiful setting. It is on the river and the early morning sun lit up the surrounding misty hills.
Matawai has a lovely little café and we made good use of it on the way home. We also stopped for ice-creams at Wairoa, arriving in Napier about 5.30pm.
Trampers: Lynette Morgan, Colin Jones, Sue Trotter, Robyn Smith, John Russell, Matthew Nisbett, Elly Govers, Fiona Bryant and reporter Bruce Hodgson