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Makarora Hut                                                                                                                                                   Labour Weekend 2015


By gee that was a bit of a grunt. The trip started on the Friday night, leaving Timaru at 5:30. Two car loads, Catherine, Christine ,Dorothy, Judy, Colin, Dave , Rob, John (scribe) . Great having the ute capability to take the packs. 4 in each vehicle we headed off to Makarora camping grounds. Catherine had arranged 8 bed accommodation unit, so all were corralled in the one spot. We arrived just after 9:30 pm a 300 something km drive. A cracker of a night, just about a full moon. A cup of tea then off to bed. Didn’t even have to get the sleeping bags out.

7am rise, breaky, then up the road to Davis Track area by the one lane bridge. Find an off the road place to park the vehicles, hoping they are still there when we return, (they were). Sign says 7hrs, 8.30am start, hut by 4pm, sweet. Oh, Oh not quite, add a few more hours and we were there. Getting there was a wee mission at times. The track led us up hill and down dale. Twists and turns fallen trees. Out comes Collin’s Silky saw purchased from Owen’s Stihl Chainsaw shop (free add Owen). Soon made mincemeat of the branches in our way. Took a few minutes to do, but by the time 8 people negotiate the trees it soon adds up in time and especially when we were returning the same way. There were a few tricky spots where the track had slipped away, a few narrow ledges to negotiate, slips here and there. All part of our NZ adventure tourism culture. It was great.

Eventually it was out of the beech forest, onto the river flats. A few up and downs to go, up ahead was our destination for the night tucked away on the edge of the beech forest in the distance. The 4 bunk hut and the tent sites. The sun was starting to fall behind us and shone brightly on the cream coloured hut. As we approached nearer to the hut the moon was rising over the mountains in front of us. We were still warm, yet it was coming night. A perfect evening in the great outdoors. Blue skies, white capped mountains, green alpine beech forests, good company = perfect.

Tents going up, water on the boil for a long awaited brew. Catherine, Judy busy in the kitchen. Plates up, grub ready, we were soon stuffed in our bellies and our bodies were to. Off to the sleeping bags for a few zzzzz. The stars were out; the dew was forming on the tents. The soft tussock ground made a good mattress (the thermorest also helps). Not long and someone in a tent was serenading us all off to sleep. Thank goodness for the great open spaces.

Next day (Sunday) it was up, breaky, break camp, tents away in the packs in case a friendly Mountain Parrots decided to call in while we were out up the Valley. We followed the river up around the bend. There we had to head for higher ground. Up onto the ridge, but our views were blocked by the beech forests. Time to turn around and head back to the hut for lunch. Pack the packs for the trek back down the river, this time to avoid the ups and downs, twists and turns. A bit of boulder hoping was involved and for Dave an explore up a rocky bank with a few grasses to hold onto to get back onto the track. This was to avoid a river crossing. Dave found the track but we did not follow. Instead it was backtracking to the track we knew and an uphill grunt to the tricky bit we were trying to avoid. A bush bash around the tricky bit we were soon sitting with Dave who had been entertained by the local Kea for the last 20minutes.

Oh I hate to say it, but not long after leaving the hut, we meet a person walking across the river barefoot. Climbing boots in hand, a snow board and boots attached to his pack, ice axe, crampons.  How long has it taken you to get here? Did you start at the road? Yeh, four hours. Where are you going snowboarding? The snow above the bush line behind the hut after I have a bit of lunch. A few more question asked and general chitchat we parted company saying our farewells and wishing him safe travel. Our conclusion after the meeting, he’s a lot younger than us. Some people are seeking real adventure out there and it is all at our backdoor in God’s own. “Just do it” to coin a phase.

Back to our adventure. It was possibly three hours after we set off from the hut we found the river flat we had passed on the way in. This is home for the night. We set up tents and strategically placed stones to set up the kitchen. Billy on, brew underway. Plenty of time to enjoy the sun, the views and put the world to right. Tea served up, another brew, sun going down it was off to the tents for the night. No need for a torch in the night. Full moon.

We arose to light frost on the tents, the odd ache in the joints, the sun was rising that will take care of that. Breaky and a brew. Tents rolled up wet, doesn’t matter last day, they can dry out at home. Packed up and on the trail by 8am. There were still tricky bits to negotiate such as the ledge that was as wide as your foot, the uphill rock scramble. You could see the evidence where Colin had been with the saw purchased from Owen’s Stihl Chainsaw shop as we tramped through the trees that saved a bit of time. Lunch was on the ridge looking down at the Makarora River flat and the Highway on the other side. A downhill climb as it wasn’t that straight forward as it had to be negotiated.

To coin a phrase again, “Oh I hate to say it”, but we were having a breather at one point before lunch and this person just appeared. Yeh he was young. Oh, where did you come from? Oh started from Haast 4 days ago, heading out now. Looked as fresh as a daisy. His pack seemed no bigger than an oversize day pack. How do they do it? We never caught up with him again. Youth is on their side.

Onto the river flat we waded through the river (knee deep) back to the Davis Track car park. Trip over, packs off. Catherine and Colin then had the task of walking back to get the cars. An enjoyable, but tiring trip on the body. Another one of Catherine’s trips well planned, even arranged the weather to be on our side for the 3 days. Many thanks from all of us. Look forward to your next adventure.

John