Tararua Forest Park

posted in: Mini Adventures | 0

Written by Lucie

Over Easter 2017, Mark and Lucie went to Wellington to hang out with Lorelei, Jake and Shirley.

We had planned to do a group 2/3 day hike, but Shirley had a cold and wasn’t up to being out in the Kiwi weather for an extended amount of time. So, the Schmittskies stayed in Wellington while Lucie, Jacob and Mark drove out of town for a two-day hike in the Tararua Forest Park.

Day one

The three of us set off along a flatish track through lots of trees and greenery and along a stream, all of which was very pleasant. The track gradually climbed (was this Gentle Annie track?) and we passed a few other people now and again. It felt so good to be out of a city (even though Wellington is pretty small) and in nature, surrounded by lush plant life.

After a little while we realised that it was lightly raining, but the trees were doing a decent job of keeping us dry. Our first ‘landmark’ that we were aiming for was Mountain House Shelter. We took bets at what time we would arrive there, which became a game for all other checkpoints along the hike. I can’t remember who won, but over the two days we had a reasonably even split of winners. At the shelter, we stopped for a short break, and more importantly, a snack, before moving off again.

It continued to rain as we climbed but it was light misty rain, which was pretty through the trees, and it was relatively warm, especially given that we were climbing. At a few points up the hill we got some lovely lookouts across the valleys and over to the peaks, especially once we were above the shelter and had broken out of the dense bush. We also saw lots of gorgeous birds and plants.

In the late afternoon we spied Powell Hut through the bush and shortly thereafter we reached the Hut where we met a few other people – one group who had stopped in the hut and were heading out the way we’d come in, and a group of three who were also staying the night. Six people in a 28-bunk hut felt pretty cruisy.

We changed into dry, warm things and set about searching for firewood. There was a little inside the hut and big logs in containers outside. Unfortunately, there wasn’t really anything to chop the logs down to size. There was one *very* blunt hatchet, and another axe head that was without a handle. Not that useful. Mark and Jake had fun improvising.


When we had a little fire going in the stove we set about with the important tasks of eating and playing cards. We may have been a bit excessive with the food (and particularly the cheese) we were carrying – we’d packed food when we were still planning to be with the Schmitt ladies. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, the volume of food did not pose a problem!

We played 500 with ‘Trev’* and eventually decided to go to bed.

Important 500 playing with Trev

Day two

The following morning we were rather leisurely. After breakfast, packing and sweeping out the hut we set off towards Mount Holdsworth.

The weather on this day was much less favourable than the day before. When standing on the veranda of Powell Hut we could only just make out the toilets through the dense, damp cloud that was cloaking the mountain. It wasn’t cold (although it was definitely cooler than on the climb), but Lucie opted for full rain gear, Mark and Jake went for jackets only.

We walked across the open mountain top, sadly cheated out of any good views by the cloud. Every now and again it would lift slightly and we’d get a teasing sneaky glimpse of a peak in front of us, of a small valley to the side.

This was good visibility for the morning

We met another small group of people at the signpost for Mount Holdsworth, Angle Knob and Jumbo Hut. We took the short trip over to the peak of Mount Holdsworth and by this point the sun was starting to burn through the cloud a little bit so we could at least see back to the ridge we’d come across.

Then, we started down to Jumbo Hut. Despite the sun, the cloud cover was still quite thick and we didn’t see the hut until we were just a couple of hundred metres away. When we reached it, we left our wet things outside and sat around the small kitchen table for our lunch. It got pretty chilly sitting around, but lunch was delicious (and still a bit excessive).

When we got moving again we had our first real view of the day – looking down from Jumbo Hut towards the lower ground. The much lower ground, that dropped off very steeply from here we were. After a short walk through an enchanted-looking mini forest the descent began. It was steep, with tall steps created by the tree roots, holding the dirt from slipping away. It was tough on the thighs. After a really long way down, in both time and altitude (I’m exaggerating a bit, but it was really hard!) we reached the stream and a young family planning to go up to Jumbo Hut and back in the afternoon. I’m not sure if they attempted it, but we didn’t encourage them. Along the stream a short way we reached Atiwhakatu Hut.

The forest

Past that, the terrain was quite easy, more like the start of day one. We walked through trees and bush, along a stream, up and down some wooden stairs when we needed to get over some steep ground. It was lovely! The only hairy bit was when we reached a fresh landslip. A few people had crossed it ahead of us and had started to flatten out a small path, but we were very glad to have hiking poles to help us out.

We walked through a small campsite on the side of the water and eventually found our way back to the car where Mark and Lucie regrouped with steamroller Jacob.

When we got back to Wellington we were treated by Lorelei to clam chowder, clam pasta and a huge salad. And we saw Nicole who popped over to hang out for a bit.

Another walk

A few days later we went out for a group day walk. Jake actually started with an early morning surf and then met us at a far away stamp-pub** where we all had brunch. The five of us then went for a day walk along the Skyline Track, testing out Shirley in the back pack carrier for the first time.

The views along this track are gorgeous, lots of rolling hills, further off you can see the mountains of both north and south island, lots of wind turbines. It was a beautiful day too. There were a large group of cows across the track at one point, which really freaked out some people who were travelling in the opposite direction. We munched on cheese scones made by Mark. It was great.

Sweet views from the Skyline Track
More sweet views


* If you don’t know Trev then he’s a very quiet, practically invisible mate who often comes to play 500. Sometimes he’s pretty good, although he’s pretty rubbish at helping you carry gear or do any chores.

** An important mission over the week was to complete the HopStock challenge – 20 different pubs with special fresh hop brews and you got a stamp for each place you went to. It was vitally important that all stamps were collected.