Trip Report TA: North Island pt8

Ends and Beginnings

I wake up not so sure with myself this morning. Catching up with all these wonderful people makes me not want to disappear onto my own adventure. Once I finally start going it is fairly windy along the ridge so I decide not to do the alternate route.

Tararua ridge

I make good progress and catch Jeff filtering water and chat with a NOBO French hiker. I take a break around midday before the final climb past Nichols Hut. I see in the logbook that Rachel and Irit are doing the alternate and that encourages me to reconsider.

Tararua ridge

I summit over Mount Crawford and survey the land beneath me. The mountains whisper in my ear and the sun reflects it's amber glow on the tussock covered spines. I can't deny myself an adventure and so when I reach the junction for Anderson Memorial Hut I take it.

Tararua alternate ridge

The way towards the hut is a dream. Easy ridge walking with expansive views and a light breeze. Suddenly the true character of this path reveals itself 100m(300ft) from the hut. Massive tussocks cover the footpath and mud pits linger in the shadows waiting to twist ankles. The only way for me is forward.

Tararua alternate ridge

The rest of the afternoon and evening is a full engagement of my leg muscles and step planning. I move at a snail's pace along the trail which I refuse to believe actually exists. Straight up and down rocky formations, using shallow mud divots as footholds and desperately trusting my entire weight to vegetation sticking out of wall faces to drag myself up and over.

Maungahuka Hut

The struggle consumes me and I equally love it and curse it with the little breathe I have to spare. Eventually on a distant plateau way above me I catch a glimpse of a structure. With a clear goal I renew my efforts and arrive there by 1900h. I'm in heaven and it's called Maungahuka Hut. I have the whole place ot myself with a private tarn and a 360deg view of the entire Tararua Range.

Tararua Range

I wake up early and blast off. The weather is perfect and the trail is just as unforgiving as yesterday. My last day with predicted good weather.

Tararua steel ladder

I arrive at a section that rises ~20m(60ft) vertically up a rock wall. There is a long alpine ladder bolted into the rock face and series of bolted ropes to get up and over. What a thrill, I test myself half way up by looking directly back down and I'm too exhausted to even be scared.

Tararua steel ladder

I move along at a slow pace again pushing hard to catch up to Rachel's or Irit's group. I get to Field Hut but see no further signatures, so I assume they must have exited via the Southern Crossing. Oh well, I keep going and from here the track becomes cruisy with massive sections of boardwalk and a steady descent.

Tararua Range

There's one final climb to properly exit from the Tararuas and a convenient river at the bottom to rinse off all the mud I've collected. I end the night at a place called the River Pa. There is a large decrepit church and a bunch of children running around when I arrive. They show me around and I pay a fee to sleep on the church floor for the night.

As predicted today brings heavy wind and rain. I walk through the city of Waikanae and then down along the beach. Thankfully the strong wind is a tailwind and I am pushed along. The tide eventually comes in and forces me to abandon the beach and so I'm onto roads.

The rain doesn't stop and I am completely soaked. I take a inland cycle path to avoid going back along the coast until Paekākāriki. I contact the lovely couple I met back before Hamilton and let them know I'm in the area. I organize for them to pick me up at the end of my hiking day as I have already passed by where they live.

From Paekākāriki I'm surprised to be on a trail. Unfortunately it keeps making me climb and soon I find myself on a narrow path overlooking a step drop onto the coastal highway below. Anytime I crest over the wind tries to drag me over the edge. There are also a few suspension bridges that are bouncing wildly with the gale so that I am white knuckling across each while being thrown around like a rag doll.

I make it through in one piece and am back on a cycle path going through suburbs. The sun finally breaks the storm and I have a chance to dry out while I continue to walk. I eventually arrive at Porirua and call my pickup.

I'm driven back to Paraparaumu where they live and am given all the amenities. I shower, laundry, and eat a delicious home cooked dinner with them. We chat all evening and they propose a great plan: I can take the train back to where I ended today, finish the hike to North Island southern terminus, transit back and spend another night with them. Sounds great and I can leave the majority of my gear behind!

Janet drives me to the train station early in the morning and I start my 47km(29mi) day. I climb Rangituhi that seemingly has a million stairs, then up Mount Kaukau with a ripping wind, finally entering downtown Wellington. I'm happy to run into Teresa and we plan on finishing the day together.


I take a detour to buy some new shoes but there is no stock for my size. Eventually Teresa and I make it to the end and take photos. For her it is the finale of her trip, for me it's the beginning of the second chapter!

North Island southern terminus
Guess who?

I take the train back to Paraparaumu and end the evening with dinner and chats with my hosts. I order a pair of new shoes online and have them sent ahead to the South Island.

Today is a zero day. I say goodbye to Janet and Rowan and take one final train back into Wellington. I spend the morning visiting gear shops looking for new rain gear while chatting with my mom. After talking with some staff I end up not buying anything and just saving my money.

I head over to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa to pass the day away. It's free and top-notch. There is a very interesting exhibit created by Wētā Workshop detailing ANZACS WWI involvement in Gallipoli. I take a break to catch up with my sister via phone and then finally after seeing everything on offer leave the museum around 1600h.

I resupply and get a hostel room. The receptionist is from Hamilton, Ontario(where I went to university) and I convince her to do me a solid so I get put into a four-bunk room that I have to myself. Clay, Brandon and Michael are in a hostel a few blocks away so I join them for some drink and COUP. I catch up with Irit and we go out for dinner then link up with another Canadian, Cameron(Silo), for some drinks. After that I find the boys again and we hang at a gaming cafe till 0100h.

This is my last day on the North Island of Aotearoa. The following morning would see me crossing the Cook Strait and continuing my journey down the Te Araroa on the South Island. Read on to hear about my adventure.

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