Off to the Tararua Ranges just north of Wellington New Zealand. How cool is that? After 4 years living in Sydney and having the Blue Mountains as a playground I’ve managed to wrangle 3 days out of my work schedule and then also convince Hugh to join me.
The objective – Southern Crossing, the most commonly completed crossing of the Tararua Ranges from West to East. This route is well summarised in “Footprints of the Tararuas” as-
“the most common of the range crossings.. this crossing like any other on the open tops, can however become difficult and dangerous in storm conditions. Equipment must be first class and experience must be sufficient to deal with survival conditions”.
Now there’s a challenge and for the two of us, who would definitely be considered by our wives as “gear freaks”, there’s no reason not to accept it.
So, come the morning of Friday 8th March we will be making our way north from Wellington destined for Otaki Forks, from where we’ll commence the walk.
And from there…? Well the more time I spend reviewing the route(s) in the area on the map the more convinced I become that we have two possible options. For simplicity let’s call them –
Option A: (Almost) Standard Southern Crossing, and,
Option B: Southern Crossing via Tararua Peaks
I started looking for options when a friend’s facebook post identified that the Department of Conservation (DOC) are commencing demolition of Kime Hut, our intended first night’s accommodation, commencing on 4 March – now how’s that for timing?
Manning up and carrying a tent is the obvious solution but doing this means we miss out on the experience of staying in various huts in the DOC. There’s 30 plus huts in the area. These huts originated from the deer culling and possum trapping days and, while many of the originals have been replaced by new constructs, they are all a welcome sight at the end of a day’s walking.
Now back to the options.
Option A requires the tent and sticks to the stock standard Southern Crossing route. For me that’s a return to the Mt Hector, Dress Circle and Mt Aston areas that I found so enjoyable on previous trips. The down side is the walk down Marchant Ridge which I never found to be that exciting. I heard it said that it’s up hill whether you are completing it heading North or South!
Option B. In 2008 I walked with friends around a circuit that included the section from Junction Knob to Bridge Peak. The weather was crap but that just made the trip more enjoyable as we ploughed on through the wet alpine grasses and cloud hugging the hills. Not much of a sales pitch but this route takes us along the main Tararua Range for approx. 15km and along the way we take in Tararua Peaks, the Ladder, Maunguhuka Hut before overnighting at Mid Waiohine Hut.
How to choose? Both present us with a great walk in the Tararua’s. Maybe we need to toss a coin at Bridge Peak and make the decision as we go.
Or maybe the weather will make the decision for us – if it’s wet Option A it will be as it provides the best escape options and we can’t afford to miss our flight back to Sydney and work on Monday can we?
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