And so, in the mid-trimester break of 2013 (my first year at uni), I headed home, where we dug out all our old gear, piled it into the boot of Cody's mum's car, and headed down the road to Putara.
We headed off from the Putara road-end early afternoon, reaching the 2nd of the 2 swing bridges after about 40 minutes of fairly cruisey walking. This first section of the track sidles along the northern side of the Mangatainoka River.
|Cody crossing the 1st swing bridge|
|Having a break at the 2nd bridge|
After a quick refreshment/we're lazy break, we continued along the track, climbing up and out the the Mangatainoka valley towards the Herepai-Roaring Stag junction.Just after the swing bridge, the track begins to climb steeply. If you pace yourself and/or a relatively fit, this won't provide much of problem.
However, we were neither of those two things, so the next hour (I think) was filled with much cursing and stopping for water (The next time we walked this track, we reached the junction wondering where the godawful climb from last time went). Thankfully for us, the track became less steep as we got closer to the track junction.
The bush for this section is typical of the Tararua's, but very scenic none the less.
I can't for the life of me remember how long it took to reach the junction, but I know we sat there for a lot longer than we should.
|Cody and a fallen tree|
|The sign at the track junction (what's up with the pink stains?)|
Herepai is tidy little hut, with sleeping space for 10 over two levels of sleeping platforms, and a decent cooking/dining space, and a nice big porch, complete with a wood box and rotten floorboards. The current hut was apparently built in the early 80's by the Bush Tramping club (do they even still exist?) after the previous hut (that was on a different site) burned down in the late 70's. The hut is heated by a standard-issue DOC fireplace (some call them a potbelly, but they're not really that shape at all), and has a rain water tank.
Owing to a lack of sufficiently dry wood, and a lot of what can only be called bad luck, we never managed to get the fire going (despite using our entire stock of fire lighters), so had to layer up in polypropylene, techi-fleece, and sleeping bag to get comfortable.
After a good night sleep, we spent the morning stuffing around and cooking a breakfast of bacon, toast, and porridge (not all mixed together though) an milling some dead branches lying around, we headed off up to Herepai peak.
|Rise and Shine!|
|Morning sun on Herepai Hut|
|View from track to Herepai peak|
The track to the peak is marked (both on maps and in the form of orange triangles nailed to trees) basically until the very end the bush line. After that, the track is not 'officially' marked or maintained, but exists in the form of a narrow (but noticeable) track through the scrub.
The views are pretty spectacular, and it's a pretty easy walk to the peak. Near the peak is a small rusty cross with the name "Stan Evans" on it. Apparently a scout leader disappeared up around here (on the way to Dundas Hut) back in the day, not sure if him and Stan Evans are the same person.
We sat in the tussock at the peak for a while, soaking in the atmosphere and snacking on scroggin. Although it was clear when we started, by the time we started heading back, we were surrounded by dense cloud (described by this guy as "clag").
|Cody on the rocks with no ice|
|Looking back in the general direction of Herepai Hut|
|Clag rolls in|
|Dangerously placed cross for Stan Evans|
|At the top|
Total Distance Covered:11km
Distance between Herepai Hut & Roadend: 4.51km
Distance between Herepai Hut & peak: 0.99km
Average moving speed: 3.3km/hour
Max Speed: 7.3km/hour