Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waipakihi Hut Trek, Kaimanawa Ranges

A fantastic couple of days spent in some of the most spectacular scenery in the North Island. A two-day loop in the Kaimanawa Ranges, which was thankfully bathed in sunshine and had little wind.

We entered the hike from a small carpark at the Umukarikari end of the track. It was a pretty steady climb through some fern clad bush for just over an hour before we emerged out of the trees at around 1000 metres. The views didn’t disappoint with Lake Taupo to our left and Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe on the right. The track then continued to climb along the Umukarikari Ridge heading east and peaking on Sharp Cone at 1500 metres. It was then a gradual descent along the ridge high above the Waipakihi River and the sprawling Kaimanawa Ranges on our right. After four hours walking we descended steeply back into the bush with the Waipakihi Hut in the distance below. A good 45 minutes later we crossed the Waipakihi River and camped for the night.

We had a early start the following day and after some porridge started down the Waipakihi River. For the first 15 minutes we bush bashed along the banks before realizing the quickest and most direct route was in the river itself. Five hours later after countless crossings and soaking wet feet we hit the Waipakihi Campsite and climbed the track to Urchin at 1300 metres. The climb was incredibly steep but thankfully short and after 45 minutes we again cleared the tree line and were once again towering over the Waipakihi River. The track then rose to give superb views of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, this time we were walking straight at them. Once we took in the views from Urchin summit the long descent to the Urchin carpark began. Sadly when we reached the road we had to finish the loop by walking an additional 5 kilometers to the Umukarikari car park.

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