Tramper Lost In Te Aroha Domain

Not the most auspicious start to a trip, but I managed it.  I can't think of many things more embarrassing than traipsing about the Te Aroha Domain in gaiters, with a pack, exchanging cordial good mornings with the runners and water bottle exercising set.

I eventually found my way onto the Upper Domain Loop Track and then the Summit Track and slotted in the progression behind a trio of South African Summiteers. I had been up late weighing and typing a long list so was happy to follow someone at a good pace. I didn’t announce my arrival 4 meters behind the party by doing anything like puffing, coughing, tripping, snapping a twig or similar. As such I was treated to a rather wonderful display of the adult male South African complaining about his crook bum and a lady prodding and poking trying to find the cause.   I happily bobbed up onto the summit 2:12h after I had started my variable orbits of the Domain, and enjoyed some high, low, medium and view-killing cloud while snacking on chocolate; given as a reward for showing a walker a topo map of the Tui Mine way down.   I pushed on soon after and was shortly disappointed to find:


There Aren’t Any Dogs Or Kennels At Dog Kennel Flat

But, that’s not really, very, surprising. So I stopped to apply sunscreen, since the clouds were retreating (just as soon as I’d left the summit), and enjoyed the walk in some lovely open and well-groomed tracks.   An attempt at humour where I very jovially called some mountain runners “Crazy Bastards” fell flat, and I decided to greet the following party with a simple “Happy New Year, you’re 45 seconds behind!”    It was nice country and I enjoyed cruising through a busy area my mind somewhere very far away, because in no time I was at the crossroad of Old North South, new North South and something else I didn’t take any note of, because I was being…


Eaten Alive By Flies

I have never known so many flies to be at one point in time and space. But, then, I’ve never been to Coober Pedy. I’d had absolutely enough of the flies in just the same time it takes to drink 500ml and water and put away one’s water bottle. I left the Fly Crossroads at pace. It had been bone dry up there for at least 10 days I had thought, so I was very surprised to find the start of the Waipapa Track so boggy. It cleared up and was soon a very nicely benched and cut track. Once I was on the NE facing hillside and settling into the rhythm of the track I became very aware I hadn’t eaten for a while. So I stopped at a stream, screamed loudly as the borrowed eTrex (not an H) refused to get any location because of sickly Punga, and enjoyed a salami and cheese tortilla.  

“I threw a massive [censored] tantrum and refused to walk any further…”

I’m not proud to say that after lunch I suffered a massive case of the ‘I-should’ve-eaten-earliers’. I also got sick of a scrappy up down, in out, stream, stream, stream portion of the track that felt like it was going nowhere about BC35 455435. The track walks through a 90 degree turn on itselft and isn’t too inspiring. I was tired, a bit faded, grumpy and I threw a massive [censored] tantrum and refused to walk any further. I had to give myself a stern talking to and a fairly strong countdown from 20 to get moving. Gladly, in another 45 minutes or so the track changed its colours and lunch was starting to take hold, I was in a much better mood.   I was almost enchanted (but quite tired) when the track merged with the existing older Waipapa Tramway. I may have been confused but there were a few moments where the DOC orange markers took you on scenic and lumpy routes while a veritable highway of track was only meters away! Still, I stopped and let my mind wander thinking about Colonialism and the swift plunders of tracts of Kauri. I had a chuckle later in the day reading that the gold miners refused to let the Kauri fellers dam the Waipapa in fear of flooding their Waikino mines. What a burden having to make a tramway it must’ve been. The remnants of the tramway are a nice break to the walking and quite subtle at times.   I was in good spirits when I arrived at the Waitawheta Hut. I have to admit, I’m seldom happy to see a hut. I’m not sure why, but, I don’t like most huts… except this absolute darling (links to Pahautea Hut, Pirongia) that I’m madlydeeplyhappily in love with and will have replicated in my backyard when I win a $27m Lotto Powerball.   So, after a chat with the parties on the porch and topping up some water I left the hut, crossed the bridge and turned right looking for a campsite somewhere on the track towards Cashmore’s Clearing.


I Need An Audio Book: A Dictionary Of Nocturnal Noises

I set up a fly camp just immediately past the Kauri Damn turn off at about BC35 486417. Was totally chuffed with myself setting up a fly camp, making a reefing peg from Supplejack, stringing up the (homemade) fly with a variety of knots. I think I probably earned a Scout Badge for that. Got off to a nice sleep at about 8pm after a handsome dinner of couscous, Cup of Soup, dehydrated veggies and salami. I was woken half a dozen times during the night with noises. I need a noise dictionary. What pads about silently but is clumsy enough to break twigs? What tosses dirt around and makes a very slight clicky grunt? That gurgles at you? Sigh. The gurgling within a meter was enough to necessitate a headlamp moment.   I woke to rain and wind at 6:00am. And, give me another Scout Badge, I breakfasted and broke camp under fly cover and was on my way without soaking everything! It was wild and wooly and I was slow out of the gate heading up to Cashmore’s, I put a jacket and beanie on when I made it up top, it was rained in and blowing with not a lot of visibility. But I was starting to warm up and I arrived at Wairoa Shelter completely surprised as it felt like I had been walking for an hour total! I made a call on the bright red phone on the desk and headed for the ridge track out to Lindemann Road.   I hate down hills. I’m ‘big boned’ and my quads give up very quickly, then my ankles get grumpy – so I didn’t love the ridge track down to the road, but it was quick.   I had totally misunderstood how long it would take me to walk out and was out at 10:20am! Mum picked me up from Lindemann Road and once I was stocked with fruit and other goodies (thanks Mum!) dropped me back at my car in Te Aroha.


A Completion Of A Goal

I’d always wanted to cross the Kaimais from Te Aroha to Katikati. I’ve not been tramping long, in fact – here is a photo of me striking a pose, well chuffed with carrying a pack for more than an hour to make Daly’s Hut, April 2008! First hut bag ever.   A soon as I’d bagged that hut I knew that I wanted to do a Te Aroha – Katikati traverse. It’s not a tough walk, but, I walk alone… and when you pack a proper tantrum there’s no one else to sort you out. No one to check decisions with. I choose to walk alone, I learn a lot about myself, it’s my escape. But it makes a decent 2-day walk with some weather all the more satisfying. I might sew a token on the old Scout blanket soon.