31 December 2012

Christmas in the Ruahine Range

I went tramping from Christmas Day until yesterday the 30th December, in the Ruahine Range.

I started at the North Block road-end, about 35 km inland from Waipukarau in the Hawkes Bay region. Right at the North Block road-end is Triple X Hut.

On the 25th, I left the car at about 12:40 and walked up the well-maintained Sunrise Track. This track zig-zags up a spur through luxuriant red beech forest interspersed with rimu, miro and mistletoe. I got to Sunrise Hut at 3:00pm.

In spite of the misty but warm and humid conditions, I continued up to Armstrong Saddle and headed northwards on the main divide of the Ruahines towards Sparrowhawk Bivvy. Within 30 minutes, the mist had cleared, and I had several fine hours of good visibility to traverse the largely untracked tops to the biv, before arriving at 8:15pm.

Note that the bivvy is nestled just off the tops amongst leatherwood shrubs and stunted Mountain beech trees. The bivvy has two distinct parts; the lower original NZ Forest Service 'dogbox' biv structure and the larger attached vestibule added by DOC. It provides a lot of utility as it has a bench seat and a cooking bench. ANd you can stand up in it.

I am afraid that's it for photos. I took the Sparrowhawk Biv photos on my cell phone. I had no spare batteries for my digital camera.

After waiting out a migraine, and a day's rain, I tramped further along the tops in mist again, before dropping down to Maropea Forks Hut. Of biodiversity interest, was seeing a couple of Powelliphanta snails and shells in the tussock herb-fields above Sparrowhawk Biv.

That night at Maropea Forks Hut I met a lovely couple from Auckland, Brinley and Connie. Later that evening, near the hut, I saw a rifleman.

The next day I tramped up the Maropea River (where I saw one blue duck) to Top Maropea Hut, an excellent-condition NZ Forest Service design 4-bunk hut with a great outlook. The outlook back over the Ruahines was so nice in the afternoon sun, that I sat for too long with no shirt on, drinking a cuppa, and reading a 'New Scientist' magasine, that I got sunburnt shoulders.

Finally, yesterday, I tramped out to Triple XXX carpark via Amstrong Saddle, Sunrise Hut and the Sunrise Track again before driving home.

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