Pukaha Mount Bruce summit
2nd May 2021
Katrina, Janet, Phil, Michael and Sandra braved a frosty morning to meet at the southern Pukaha car-park at 9am. With our gumboots / water shoes (or bare feet!) we crossed the Bruce stream then put on our dry tramping shoes. We slowly warmed up as we climbed the zig-zag track, getting some pockets of sun. At the junction we headed up the ‘Braddicks’ track getting into more enclosed bush. We heard and saw lots of native birds on the way up – including kereru, fantails, tui, bellbird and whitehead. The tui were most plentiful and singing lots of different calls, chortles and swooping around us. We looked for the elusive North Island Kokako – but didn’t see any.
The forest was quite dry underfoot – layers of Rewarewa and beech leaves adorned our pathway. We stopped for some morning tea in a clearing in the sun then continued up the hill. The track was a bit undulating in places, and a few steep dry bits were slippery underfoot. Caught in the traps we saw a weasel and a large rat. When we emerged to our sunny lunch spot the views were amazing. We could see down the Wairarapa valley, across to Mitre Peak and Cattle Ridge and north to the Ruahine ranges. Mount Bruce turned on the weather for us - there were very few clouds and no wind.
A few of us went to the summit for a quick ‘done it’ then we had a lovely 1 hour lunch in the sun. We then retraced our steps back down the hill, taking a detour along the Ridge track to re-join the public loop track. We stopped in another clearing for an afternoon chocolate break. Back at the bottom of the hill, we changed our shoes and re-crossed the stream (still as cold as the first crossing!).