Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ruahine Ranges

Queen's Birthday weekend tramping trip in the Ruahine Ranges

We left Auckland at 6:30am on Friday to drive down to the Ruahines, arriving at 1pm. A three hour climb through farmland and beech forest brought us to Purity Hut, situated just above the bushline.

Purity Hut
Saturday dawned clear and cold, with a heavy frost on the ground (which remained all day in shady areas). Fantastic views from Purity out to Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and even Mt Egmont in the distance. From the hut it was a gentle climb along the ridge to Iron Peg where we dropped our packs for a short excursion out to Mangaweka Trig (1731m), the 6th highest point in the North Island. From Iron Peg we continued southeast along the ridge before dropping down a spur and picking up the steep track down to Pourangaki Hut. Fairly straight forward apart from an eroded section on the ridge where we had to gingerly sidle across steep thin, frozen scree with a nasty runout. When we were nearly at the hut I went ahead to dump my pack then went back to find the others who arrived just after dark. 9 hour day.

Mt Ruapehu & Ngauruhoe on the skyline

On top of Mangaweka

Karearea (NZ Falcon)

Pourangaki Hut

Tired bodies demanded a lie in on Sunday morning so departure wasn't until after 9am. We headed to Kelly Knight Hut via the Pourangaki River, which according to Malcolm's research was easy river travel. Some 4 hours and 44 river crossings later we emerged onto the track near the hut. We managed to avoid going deeper than mid-thigh although a couple of the crossings had very strong currents. Lots of rock scrambling and route finding (and the odd bit of bush bashing) provided an interesting challenge and despite the freezing cold water and numb feet it was quite exciting. We were lucky to find a patch of sunshine for 20 metres halfway down, but apart from that we were in the shade the whole way. What better way to spend the first day of winter than spending 4 hours travelling down a river?

Starting down the Pourangaki River

Kelly Knight Hut

I decided to try Dad's bivvy bag and slept outside under the stars

A leisurely morning on Monday followed by a 2 1/2 hour walk along the sidle track back to the carpark. We were extremely fortunate with the weather, having cloudless blue skies all weekend and hardly a breath of wind.

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