CENTRAL WHIRINAKI HUT, WHIRINAKI FOREST PARK - 30th to 31st July 2004
Although I'm writing this a couple of months after the event, the photos have brought back the memories of the lovely tramp I had up here in the Whirinaki Forest Park close to the Urewera National Park. It was my first tramp in the park, and I was aware of the lack of 'tops' tramping that I love in the South Island of New Zealand, but I wasn't prepared for the stunning and lush vegetation in the park - it just blew me away and my camera never seemed to be out of my hand!
During the week preceeding the tramp, there had been major flooding in the Bay of Plenty region, which contains the Forest Park. The flooding had been caused by large storms coming down from the north and a unusually high rainfall on the lower levels of the region from these storms. The local services had been stretched to the max during this time. Fortunately by the time I went on this tramp, water levels had subsided and had left stunning new waterfalls along the track.
There are many tracks in the area and I had chosen what was a straight forward in and out track to the Central Whirinaki Hut. The tramp to the hut took about 5 hours, although I extended this with a side trip up the Mangamate Stream. The original plan was to reach the Mangamate Hut, but a lack of confidence due to the high river levels made me turn back. However I did manage to get some lovely waterfall shots along the way.
Due to my side trip I didn't reach the hut until dark. Why does it always seem further to a hut in the dark than during the day? Fortunately other trampers had arrived before me and had cranked up the fire, so the hut was already pretty cosy. The hut sleeps around 20 people (possibly more) in two rooms off the main hut area. There's a nice deck around the hut to relax on, especially in the summer.
The next day I just followed the same route out back to the car. Along the way there are a number of lovely spots to stop at and re-fuel. These include Vern's Camp and the Whirinaki Waterfall. Along the way as you cross a bridge you can see Te Whaiti-Nui-A-Toi Canyon, where (apparently) the river has cut through an ancient lava flow.