Wharite, Southern Ruahine Range, 16 November 2022
Ten happy trampers whizzed off towards Dannevirke on a cloudy Wednesday morning, Alison behind the wheel and with strict instructions that we had to be back in good time for child-minding the grand-lovelies!
We set off at 9.45 following the stream along a lovely track with a few muddy spots, but easy walking for about 30 minutes. Then there was a little detour at a slip – so we crossed a bubbling stream twice and onto the Coppermine Track turn-off. That wasn’t our route so we took another track and the climb began, with several very muddy areas along the way. It was steep, in lovely bush, but eyes had to be down to your feet.
Eagle-eyed Alison and Juliet saw some epiphyte orchids in flower and there was a small amount of clematis (the big white flowers).
An hour after the start, we stopped for morning tea in a shady part of the track. Although mainly in the bush, the sun was shining and that, with the climb, made us quite hot. The climb continued, up, up and up. Not a difficult track, well-maintained, just up!
Suddenly the bush cleared and we got a lovely view of the mountains on one side and the plains on the other. The Wharite tower didn’t seem that far away. Piece of cake, we thought. So on through bush, becoming leatherwood, and we’ll be there soon. Wrong.
The track seemed to go on and on, the tower never looked far away but there was always another hill in the way. The track was muddy in places with some steep, ‘haul me up’ rocks but overall OK.
At last, around noon, we were at the trig/tower. It’s an imposing place: a huge tower, but the building around it looked like something out of Armageddon. On the other side is the road up (tempting), and there are views of the wind farm, Woodville and Palmerston North.
Lunch in a secluded grassy area was welcome and we re-grouped out of the wind, happy with progress. Cherie had decided she’d take it a bit easier and had lunch at the top of the hill, then wandered down to meet Ted who was doing his own thing.
The return journey went quite quickly; having done it once, we knew what we were in for. A couple for stops for a drink of water and we were almost back at the van.
Alison was going to show us the flowering orchid she had seen on the way up, but missed them. Admittedly, we had to keep our eyes peeled to the ground and the walk back was steep and muddy, so we let her off that one.
Across the stream twice again (nice drink of water) and we were back at the van at about 3.15pm where Cherie and Ted were waiting. Newbie Keith did well, and after getting changed and stretching our legs (or at least Geoff and I did) we set off for Napier. There was heavy rain in the Dannevirke area and we were grateful for a lovely day with no rain, great company, and – for most of us – a track we’d not done before.
Trampers: Cherie Le Lievre, Alison Greer, Juliet Gillick, Keith Gore, Doug Matheson, Denise Bavidge, Gaye Gasser, Ted Angove, Geoff Donkin and reporter Di Reid