Kaweka J – Mad Dog Hill – Studholme Saddle/Mackintosh Spur – Donald River – Matauria Ridge, November 29 2008
Trampers: Alison Greer, Carol Finch, Denise Payne, Julia Mackie, Jude Paton, Nolene Blair, Murray White, Ted Angove, Paul Exeter, Geoff Donkin, Vic Bullock, John Marshall and John Dobbs (reporter)
A baker’s dozen left Napier in warm and still conditions. A few kilometres short of Makahu car park, we dropped John Marshall for a photo foray. There wasn’t a breath of wind as we set off up Trials Spur. A suspected bout of food poisoning left Paul at the back, along with Vic. The rest made good time on the grunt up the J, and a patch of buttery ranunculus brightened the scene.
A mist came and went, revealing the tops in clear outline and once up to the signpost, there was a wonderfully clear view out to Ruapehu and her companions. We gathered for photos near the memorial cairn and a snack break. Paul decided he would not go further, and Vic and Nolene decided the same.
So the rest carried on, aiming to complete the full circuit. How wonderful it was to be on the open tops in such mild and calm conditions. It seemed a shame to soon be descending off the tops and down off Mad Dog Hill.
Then it was the descent down Mackintosh Spur, with most doing their bit to pull up contortas on the track. A lovely spot with great views was found for lunch-hour, but after the usual 25-minute break, we were off again.
A steep section followed (oh, the knees!) down to the Donald, which was in low flow and easy to cross. Then for the dreaded ascent to Matauria Ridge – and what a grunter! This probably took 45 minutes and a stop was made at the so-called top… Murray was really feeling the effort. Ted helped by taking his pack and John carried Ted’s and his own the rest of the way. At last, we descended to the Field Base area and into a patch of bush.
Just across the little bridge, Nolene had made a clear sign out of broken twigs, pointing to a superb cabbage tree with a perfectly formed and large flower bunch.
A little way further, there were others – but none quite so perfect.
Then it was back to the vehicles and heading home, after a good workout.