Whirinaki Forest Park – Mangamate Hut, Saturday-Sunday, Sept 21-22, 2008. Map V18
Trampers: Paul Exeter, Murray White, John Gray, Murray Goss, Rosemary Jeffery, Denise Payne, Sue Marshall, Julia Mackie (reporter).
The omens were good. As we drove down Pine Milling Road, we could see Ruapehu and Ngarauhoe peaks on the south-western horizon. For the first time in a few weeks, we at last had good tramping weather forecast for both days and hopes were high for a good bush walk.
We set off from Plateau Road road-end, heading for Upper Whirinaki Hut. The track undulates for a short while, before it descends down to the Whirinaki River. Easy walking follows a tributary stream and you soon arrive at Upper Whirinaki Hut. The day party was sitting on the verandah, having a short break. We joined them before they set off for their walk through to Central Whirinaki Hut.
The sun was warm and it was tempting to stay longer, but we had to move on. The track follows a stream, which had a lot of storm-damaged trees on its banks; it eventually becomes the Taumutu Stream. We lunched in a spot where the sun shone into a clearing in the bush. After lunch, we caught up with the day party; they’d had lunch just further on. We said farewell to them at the turn-off for Mangamate Hut. The track follows another stream and it too was, in places, full of flood debris that we think must have occurred since the winter of 2006, when our winter solstice tramp into Central Whirinaki led to the group having to camp out, due to snow storm damage on the track.
The bush walk in and out of the stream was delightful, and we were soon walking down the Upper Mangamate Stream. In quick time, we reached the turn-off up the saddle and to the hut. The Whirinaki huts are all well designed (except for the top bunks) and have wide verandahs. The sun shone on the surrounding hills, and we had our hot drinks outside until the day cooled down. We lit the pot belly and continued some lively discussions on a wide range of topics (some too naughty to mention). When darkness fell, we listened for moreporks and other bush noises. Three slept on the verandah; they thought: “Why waste such a starry night by staying indoors?”
At daylight, we were ready to set off, and left at 7.30. At the junction, we decided to head toward Central Whirinaki, again following and crossing the Whirinaki Stream many times. We were lucky to spot two blue ducks (whio), and they kindly posed for a photo-shoot.
We reached the junction of the loop track at 10.00am and decided to go on to Central Whirinaki Hut for lunch… just to prolong this great bush walk. Lunch was had in the hut clearing, under a warming sun.
All too soon, we headed back, and up the gentle climb up to the Plateau Road car park. You know when you’re almost there, because there is a magnificent grove of mountain cabbage trees next to the track. And when you get a glimpse through the trees, the surrounding ranges look fantastically wild.
We arrived back at the car park after a six-and-a-half-hour walk. It had been a tremendous tramp.