Tramping in the North Island late September
Hey All, Im coming across from Australia for a friends wedding in New Plymouth in late September this year. It would be great to see the NZ country side whilst im there and want to get some bush walking (tramping), mountain biking in etc. im an experienced bush walker but not that experienced in the snow. Ill be getting some avalanche training in Aus before i head across. Ill probably stay on the North Island. A few questions: 1. Tongariro Circuit seems to be THE draw card for tourists to the north island. Of course being weather dependent, there is the potential of avalanches on this walk. Does anybody have experience with this walk this time of year. Say, if the snow is melting and there hasnt been a fresh dump, does the high risk avalanche area get degraded? If there is a fresh dump when im there and i decide its too dangerous, ill pull out. in which case, 2. Ill need a plan B. Ive been trying to find a decent challenging and interesting 3-5 day walk that is not subject to snowing in on the north island and cant find anything. Do you have suggestions? There is Taranaki - but images on google show people climbing it on unicycles. Doesnt sound too tough. Or Lake Waikaremoana, my mate said it was ok, but not spectacular. Any other suggestions? Aleks
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re read whats been written, you must be able to competently self arrest with an ice axe on a steep slope with hard snow or ice, you must be experienced with crampons on a steep slope. or you will end up in hospital or the morgue. its an alpine climb in winter, its not an aussie bush walk. dont apply the same standards here. people say oh NZ is so scenic, its also extremely dangerous for those that exceed their abilities... we've all had out backsides kicked by the NZ outdoors here and been lucky to come back in one piece, or pieces.... you slip on taranaki on snow you'll accelerate to a high speed if you cant competently self arrest very quickly, the end result will be extremely messy, hte first thing that will happen is your clothes will probably shred, if you still can't stop you'll leave your skin and a trail of blood behind on the mountain, theres no limit to any other damage, its like being in a car wreck when you come to a sudden stop... watch the descent from disaster video on mt taranaki. RIP to those who have lost their lives the following happened at the end of October http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/9339728/Misery-on-a-Taranaki-mountainside http://www.nzherald.co.nz/life-style/news/video.cfm?c_id=1503081&gal_cid=1503081&gallery_id=150905
Yea even the standard route is a sustained 30? degree slope, its awesome to learn french and modified french technique if conditions are firm but when you get to the top, you are fairly exposed so you need to be confident on this type of terrain. By not for beginners I meant, not beginner mountaineers, if you have barely used crampons before then forget it. What about Syme Hut? Thats not quite as committing as the summit and an awesome place to spend the night.
avoid the southern side of snowed in mountains like the plague if you're not experienced in steep slopes, thats where most of the ice is. thats where its hardest to stop if you start sliding.
Wayowski, Thanks for the links. Its unfortunate for those two people who lost their lives. You're right its not something I would want to get myself into. But are you sure about the link from the NZ herald? All i got for that link was sumo wrestlers pretending to wrestle with babies in their arms? As for your point about what others have said, perhaps i wasnt direct enough. It seems dangerous going to the top of Taranaki - In snow, im not heading up. But what about around the mountain track, is still interesting and challenging or is it just going to be a manicured path? The DOC website says the track can be riden in parts with a mountain bike, given its New Zealand and the photos ive seen on the web, i presume unicycles too? :P What about Tongariro circuit if there hasnt been any big dumps, like you said is it more achievable. Failing all of the above, do you know of any good 3-5 day trips? The Whanganui trip sounds ok, but it doesnt capture me yet.
Oh, another thing I forgot to mention about the whanganui trip. It requires some basic competence in whitewater, and to canoe it you would need someone else with you. To kayak it you would need to fit your gear in a kayak, and be able to self rescue if needed (eg roll, or be able to swim to the side and empty your kayak. Note- some areas are in gorges and this would be difficult). Luckily it doesnt require too much whitewater ability other than aiming for the middle of the V, kicking it in the guts and paddling like hell. Oh, and staying out of the eddies, a few of them gave me a nice impromptu swim when I went down! Also requires awareness of river hazards etc, and jetboats can be an issue. Its a funny trip, I went on it thinking it would just be a spot if fun before getting back into the year. It actually really captured me. If you offered me a week off, a canoe and a partner to do it with, I would be on that river again in a heartbeat, even though it is nearly winter!
taranaki round the mountain isnt that easy, its relatively safe except in heavy rain you will get held up on some stream crossings tongariro circuit comes down to how big the last snow dump was and how long ago it was, and how strong the wind is blowing, it will vary a lot
sorry this was the other link about taranaki i meant to send doco on multiple deaths on one trip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXLwg6K8Gw4
@Aleks: "Does the loop track provide good scenic landscapes and enough difficulty to not get bored?" It's hit and miss. Honestly you could spend a week either walking around the mountain, or alternatively stationed somewhere like Holly Hut or Waiaua Gorge Hut or Lake Dive Hut, all on the plateau looming under the peak, and still never see a mountain, because the clouds don't clear. I'm not completely sure how to describe the around-the-mountain route, but I'm surprised to hear about the mountain bike thing. I'm trying to think which part of it they'd be referring to. I don't find the lower parts especially interesting. It sidles around in a circle, much of it under trees, and repeatedly going through and across streams coming off the mountain. DOC in that region must have found a great bulk-buy deal on ladders because they're splattered everywhere for all the ups and downs. This all takes time, too. eg. If you locate Kahui Hut on a map ( http://www.topomap.co.nz/NZTopoMap?v=2&ll=-39.29456,174.01536&z=14 ), the advised time for climbing up to that hut, walking across and down again, is the identical to the signposted time for the sidling track which goes straight across, but in effect spends so much time dropping into creeks and climbing out of them. It's correct on the comparative times, too. Also, nowhere on Mount Taranaki is really out of range of day-walkers, and the around-the-mountain route crosses several roads. Above the bush-line, DOC's also put wooden boardwalks and steps all over the place, I guess to help protect some of the surrounds from trampling, but at times it can be hard to get a feeling that you've actually left civilisation behind. As I mentioned ealier, I personally think the most interesting non-alpine (or barely alpine) parts of Egmont National Park are on the northern side around the Ahukawakawa wetland, and maybe also the southern side around Lake Dive Hut and the Upper Lake Dive track below Fanthams Peak. It's definitely worth seeing but if that were the only time I had then I'm not sure I'd want to spend all my time walking around it. Heading across to Tongariro National Park for some variety could also be worth it, or if you want to go somewhere less manicured then check out nearby parks like Kaimanawa Forest Park and Kaweka Forest Park, or Ruahine Forest Park further south. They're all big tramping areas and you can get up high into snow easily enough if it's there, but they're less popular with tourists.
Seconding the Kawekas - as easy or as challenging as you like, plenty of alpine tops tramping (with associated snow at that time of year), and stunning views back across the central plateau to Ruapehu / Ngauruhoe. There are many options for 3-5 day loop tramps, with plenty of remote, well maintained huts and campsites to utilise. You'll see next to nobody in September. Include Te Puia lodge in your wanderings and you can have a nice soak in the nearby hot pools on the way out :-) It's a 5 hour drive from the 'naki to Hawkes Bay, but you'll see country that next to no tourists venture in to. Happy to help with planning if you're interested, PM me.
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