Having not settled on a destination, I revised my criteria to huts near Masterton within a few hours of the roadend.
Atiwhakatu? Nah, been there not that long ago and, dear I say, too easy?
Powell? Again, been there recently, and slightly too long.
How about... Blue Range Hut? 3.6km from the Kiriwhakapapa camp ground, nice wee hut I've not been to for years, Blue Range it is.
And so I marched off up the gloriously flat track, my half-full pack bouncing around merrily. The track crosses a small foot bridge over the Kiriwhakapapa Stream less than than a minute from the start, before passing through a grove of towering redwoods, shortly coming to another footbridge over an un-named side-stream. On the other side of the footbridge, a junction is met. A piece of DOCware points left to the loop track, whilst I kept going straight. The track remains wide and even, following the path of the just-out-of-site Reef Creek.
About 1km from the start, after crossing a small creek, the track begins to climb. Early on, parts of the track are surrounded on both sides by thick tangles of black vines that create a foreboding sense that one should not be there. The track is also indistinct in a couple of places, where it looks like it has been re-routed to avoid fallen trees and the like.
Soon enough, the track becomes a fairly typical Tararua uphill slog, climbing insistently higher for about 2.5km.
It is in such goblin forest that a track junction is reached, ~3.3km from the start. The left branch continues up an over Blue Range to the Waingawa River and Cow Creek Hut, whilst the right branch heads north along the ridge to Blue Range Hut.
It had begun to rain lightly some time ago, and was now getting heavier. Gaps in the scrub that would usually provide a view further into the ranges, instead provided views of a dull grey fug and gusts of cold wind. Thankfully, the hut is only ~600m from the junction, so it was not long before its dented blue corrugated iron walls came into view. I took me a shade under 2 hours to reach the hut.
Unfortunately, none of this translated to a good nights sleep but hey, you win some, you lose some.
At least the rain let up before nightfall, so I could get a couple of decent photos.
Turns out, I needn't have worried, as the rain had abated when I departed the hut at 8am after photographing some of the old maps and signs that adorn the hut.
The walk out was fairly pleasant, although the going is necessarily slow to avoid taking a tumble down the steeper parts of the track.
|Possibly my favourite track junction.|
|The afore-mentioned vines on the side of the track|
Info & Map:
Time: 1:55 inbound, 1:46 outbound