Awatere – Happy Daze, November 19 2008
Trampers: Graham Bell, Gary Bowler, Vic Bullock, Paul Exeter, John Gray, Manfred Hausler, Rosemary Jeffery, John Marshall, Keith Moretta, Kelvin Shaw, Vietta Siagian, Ray Slavin, Peter Slagter, Thelma Tasman-Smith, Barry Motley and Ken Ross (reporter)
Our tramp to Awatere Hut then down the North Branch of the Makaretu River to Happy Daze Hut would normally start from Moorcock Saddle at the end of Kashmir Road. Not for us, though. The last steep section of the road had been recently remetalled and was only suitable for 4WDs. So we, the van 12, had the doubtful pleasure of walking to the road end before joining the other four of our group there.
Section one was a brief climb out of the saddle and then south along a ridge with great views east across Hawke’s Bay and west to the main Ruahine Range to Longview Hut and Rocky Knob. Then it was a steep drop down into the Makaretu River and across it to Awatere Hut for a chocolate stop.
Next, it was down-river for a brief visit to Black Stag Hut – a flash name for a not-so-flash shelter. The riverbed was good, easy going except for all those rocks and stones. Scenery was great, with a new vista around every bend. Our lunch stop, Happy Daze Hut, was a climb above the river. We enjoyed a sunny rest before retracing our steps.
The third section back up the river was easier because we didn’t need to try to keep our feet dry. Then it was a climb back up to the saddle. Back up on the ridge, it was windy and cool, so no time to stop, and we set off down to the vehicles to dry socks and a coffee before the drive home.