The Holdsworth-Jumbo circuit incorporates some great Tararuas forest, open tops travel, and river valley travel.
We set of at about noon from the Holdsworth carpark. The track initially passes through campsites, before reaching Donelly Flat. From there, the track heads up towards Mt Holdsworth and Powell Hut.
After about and hour, we'd reached rocky lookout. The track is metalled and well maintained due to it's high popularity. It was a blazing hot summer day, which made the modest gradient harder than it needed to be.
|Obnoxiously even, wide, metalled track|
|Really close wood pidgeon|
By 2:10, we were at the Powell Hut/Totara Flats track junction We stopped there for 5-10 minutes to hydrate and film. 20 minutes of easy walking later, we were at mountain house.
|Track junction and ugly-as-f*ck sign|
|Mountain House Shelter|
Powell Hut is pretty large (sleeps 30), has plenty of space, a gas supply, and arguably the best toilets in the Tararuas. We shared the hut with 4 others.
We got to Jumbo Peak at about 1:30, and had pre-lunch snacks. After filming sitting around in the tussock, and taking a leak off the top of Jumbo (I used the GPS to find the exact point), we headed off down to Jumbo Hut.
|Track junction near Jumbo Peak|
|Jumbo Hut in the clag|
|Typical Tararua Goblin Forest|
|Rain gauge clearing?|
At 5:40 pm (an unnecessarily long day) we arrived at Atiwhakatu, surprised to see that the 5-year-old hut had doubled in size. The original hut building (which was almost identical to Roaring Stag Lodge), has been converted into a large communal cooking and dining area, with the new section containing 3 bunkrooms (1x 12 person room, 2x 8 people rooms).
Two of the people we shared Powell Hut with were at Atiwhakatu also. We had fun trying to light the fire, trying to make kindling with a log splitting axe, then trying to light it and realising I'd left all my firelighting stuff at Powell. Thankfully, we found a bottle of white spirits (turps maybe?) along with an ancient white spirits cooker someone had left there and managed to get the fire going with that (but not before trying to blow up the fire box and burn my face off).
The next morning, we left Atiwhakatu at about 11:30. The track back to Donnely Flat is an easy, pretty much flat track that sidles along the Atiwhakatu Stream. All stream crossing are bridged, with the exception of 1 or 2 where the bridges were washed out in recent flooding.
A mammoth new suspension bridge has been constructed over one stream but was not opened when we were there (we used it anyway). It must have been one hell of flood, as the stream was tiny but the gap the bridge covered as about 4 times as wide.
In places the track was diverted, because the old track has subsided. In other places, parts of the current, recently re-routed track are subsiding due to the slips that instigated the re-routing getting even bigger.
|Snazzy new boardwalk near the nut|
|Swish new swing bridge|
|tiny stream, massive new flood-generated stream bed|
|Another washed out bridge|
|Re-routed track subsiding|
Despite the weather, this was still a great trip, and it was great to experience the tops in completely different conditions than the first time we did this trip.
We filmed the 3rd episode of Vaguely Dangerous Wilderness on this trip. Watch it here: