Archive for the ‘New Zealand Hiking’ Category

Darren and I have been itching to get out to a hut with the kids. So, yesterday morning, after looking for this weeks forcast, we decided that it was time. We got out of bed and packed our bags with spare clothes, food for all meals plus a reserve, water, and sleeping bags. Then we headed out toward Rangiwahia, about an hour drive north. Below is a topographic map of the track we did. The red line is the portion that we did, up to the hut. There is a bigger loop track shown on the map that returns back to the starting point as well as to other huts. We really would like to do these someday when the kids are older and spend several days to complete it.

When the track was first put in, it was a pretty gentle climb up to the bridge, then much steeper up to the hut from there. Since then, a slip has occured and the track has been remade to go up and over the slip. This has almost doubled the length of the track before the bridge and has made it much steeper, since you must go up and over to find a solid, safe path. It’s interesting looking back across the valley to where the slip is, once you have passed over the bridge, because you can see markings of where the original track went.

Anyway, like our last hike, Boy carried his own water in his new pack, and this time he also carried his own clothes, and plate. It was about 4.4 km to the hut, which was projected to take 2 hours. It took us 5 hours and we were so glad to finally see the hut come into view. My favourite part of the journey was seeing the change in foilage as you get higher in elevation. Boy needed a bit of encouragment, such as a promised meusli bar at the bridge and at the hut, but overall he did great! He was all along looking forward to getting to pick out his bed when we got there. We enjoyed speculating what colour the mattresses would be. Girl did get a little grumpy near the end as she wanted to get out and play, but did well too. She enjoyed waving leaves and bits of grass we found along the way.

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We were the only people to stay in the hut that night, with one other man camping outside the hut as he didn’t make a booking. He had a lovely Weimaraner dog along with him to the delight of Girl, who loves any animal. We enjoyed a nice fire before bed as well as a meal of noodles with peas, and tuna. In the morning, we had some meusli with coconut milk and hot water, then cleaned up and headed back down. Boy was a little apprehensive and said, ‘My legs are going to hurt again…’ So, we told him all about how sometimes pain is a good thing, like when your muscles are working hard and getting stronger.

Going down was faster, and we arrived back at the car in 3.5 hours. Just before the bridge, we took Girl out and she walked over the bridge with us. She thought this was so much fun. She kept walking for about 100 m, then was happy to return to my pack. The clouds covered the mountain quite a good way down so much of our journey out was amidst fog. This gave things a whimsical and magical feeling. It was really quite cool.

All in all, it was a great first hut experience for the family. We look forward to doing more, and also to taking what we learned and making the next trip better. Some things we would do differently: Bring soap, rubbish bags, ziplock bags, more meusli bars for snacks, and a sheet for Girls bed. (she slept in her sleep sack, and didn’t like the cold plastic mattress on her face).

Oh, and an interesting side note are these alpine daisies. Aparrently, they were used by the Maori people to make weatherproof cloaks. Also, the early mountaineers in the early 1900s would pick the leaves and stuff them into the legs of their pants for insulation. Quite cool!

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This past Sunday Darren and I took the children to the Coppermine Creek Track. You can find the DOC website describing the track here. Below is a topographic map of the track. At the bottom of the map you can see the road end and then the red dotted lines are the track. We were going to do the loop clockwise from the road end, plus that little dead end up the creek to see the old coppermine shaft, but when we got to the turn off we decided not to do that extra bit with the mine. I was dissapointed, but Darren and I have been there before. The mineshaft is full of cave wetas which are really a neat sight, but we will just have to go back another time. We had a long way left to go and we didn’t want the kids to burn out.

After the turnoff we stopped along the creek and had lunch. We had been walking for an hour and were quite hungry at 1:00 pm. At 1:30 we continued and started the hardest part of the track which you can see by the really close together lines on the map above The lines show how fast the elevation changes. We kept going up up up and it seemed as if we were climbing a never-ending ladder because it always looked like the top was just in sight, and then it would keep going. We stopped to check how far up we had gone when we were quite tired and it was only 1/3 the way up. So onward we trudged!! and Boy was a pretty good sport. He learned how to climb up the track on his hands and knees sometimes, and, he was very excited to get to carry and use his brand new backpack with a water bladder in it.

The views from the top were spectacular. The top was in a sheltered bit, so there was hardly a breath of wind. We took another break and let Girl out of my pack for a feed and crawl around. Both kids were happy to rest, as were we to take in the beauty. The next portion of the track was down down down, but not at such a steep grade. It was largely through native bush, but then a good section at the end was on farmland. We were glad to be out on some more even ground, but the down down down was starting to get old. We kept reminding Boy to look for the next white post marking our way back to the car. In the end, we finally made it in record time of 6 hours. It was suggested that it would take 2 hours, and I assume that we could have done so if Darren and I were on our own.

Our philosophy is that we don’t let kids hold us back from things we want to do. Include them! Sure, make sure you have enough time at your disposal in case it takes three times as long, but be patient and prepared, and take the opportunity to teach them along the way. We believe they will be glad we got out there with them, instead of without them, or instead of not at all.

All in all it was a great test run for us. We would like to do some more tracks with huts that we hike out to for the night and then back to the car the next day. The coppermine track helped us to get a good feel for what we could expect from the kids. Next week we are hoping to do an overnight hike. We’ll see how we go. Hopefully the weather is kind, as we don’t want to try it unless the forcast is perfect. Kids don’t handle bad weather very well, even though we would probably be fine on our own. Onward to the next adventure! Stay tuned! 🙂

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