A weekend at Waikuku in the Aorangi Forest Park

Before we left home, we were sure it was going to be a short weekend away, the forecast for Sunday indicated a pack up and head home after breakfast day.

Saturday morning 4 vehicles and 13 passengers converged on Martinborough, after refreshments we set off in convoy and eventually down the Ruakokoputuna road. The brisk westerly wind had one advantage in quickly blowing the dust away for the following vehicle.

We arrived at the DOC Waikuku Lodge to find a number of improvements since our last visit 4-5 years ago, better access and parking, a lovely deck (if the weather allows), and an improved kitchen. After putting our gear in the house, it was time to get out for a walk, two intrepid adventurers headed for Te Maunga, a high point at 979m a climb of a little over 400m from the starting point, but requiring good navigation and constant bush bashing (well that was their excuse for not taking any photos).

Meanwhile the rest of the group took an easier route, following the Old Mill/Pig Ridge track a little way up towards Te Maunga, before sidling around and reaching more open ground. Here the views were more extensive, you could just see the Kaikoura Ranges, but the wind was enough to blow you around if you were not careful. Descending down to the Turanganui River we were pleased the track was dry, it would be mighty slippery if wet. Arriving at the river it was time for wet feet, only one river but 13 crossings to come, the water warmed up with the number of crossings.

We were able to sit outside Sutherlands Hut for a late lunch, out of the wind, but not much sun. Then it was time to continue the river crossings before heading up the 4WD track and back to the Lodge, just over 5hrs since we left.

Then it was time for hot showers, a bonus of being able to drive to the Lodge, and start preparing our “organised” potluck meal. The “intrepid” team arrived back about an hour later. Maybe it was the meal, maybe the long walk, whatever the cause once the dishes were done most people started to head for their sleeping bag, or maybe it was a way to catch up on some sleep before we “lost” an hour with daylight saving kicking in.

Sunday morning, and the rain and wind arrived in the early hours, even some thunder to waken some. After breakfast it was time to pack up our gear, clean the house for the next occupants and head home, along roads without the dust. We seemed to have been relatively sheltered in the Forest Park compared to the Wairarapa valley, when we got back to Martinborough with a good breeze (great for the In to Wind cycle challenge that afternoon) and heavy showers.

Those on the trip: Mike, Laura, Duncan, Jean, Don, Denise, Sandra, Janet, MaryAnn, Robyn, Chris, Gerald and Nigel.

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