We set off early on Friday night leaving Takapuna by 6.30pm and arrived at Karapiro Domain sometime after 9.00 pm, to settled into our well-appointed chalets for the night.
Saturday morning, when daylight broke, we were up early and organizing our breakfast in a slightly undersized kitchen given the size of eighteen attendees for this marvellous expedition. A quick look around the Domain for some of us, we could see what a large set up they have there to cater for all sorts of water sports and accommodation. We were on the bus and on our way to Maungatautari mountain before 8.30 am, the weather was a mix of broken cloud, fog, and sun, arriving at the mountain in no time at all we were greeted by a rather cold wind from the southwest. This did not cool our spirits any as we were excited to rip into it.
Our mission, the short party, was to climb Mount Pukeatua and return to either the café or continue to the Sanctuary Mountain bird enclosure. The distance party were to climb Pukeatua and carry on and climb Mount Maungatautari before returning to Big yellow. Interesting Maungatautari, consists of three volcanos, rock sample taken from Maungatauari matches the same DNA as Mt Ruapehu lying some 140 kilometres directly to the South of Maungatauari. There is also forty-seven kilometres of predator fence surrounding three thousand four hundred hectares, which makes it one of the biggest pest-proofed fences in the world.
It was a few minutes past the hour of 9.00 am with both parties leaving together, however it was not long before the distance party put some distance between our party of twelve. The track initially followed the predator fence along an access metalled track, before we were diverted off and into the bush, it was well-marked, muddy, and hilly in some places required scrambling, in general this was a rough track in places that would give us much fun and a good work out. The mountain was bush clad with areas of Kareao (supplejack), Kawakawa, Kapuka, Pungas, Totara, Kamahi and interesting, Pukatea a large tree that can grow to about thirty-five metres in height, identifiably by the base of its trunk which has plank-like buttresses.
We had managed to slip into our raincoats just before the summit, as we had sporadic showers visiting us as we neared the summit at about 11.00 am. On our arrival at the summit, we were protested by the call of a Saddleback warning all that we had arrived, by which time we had a fair bit of cloud cover, and the distance view was a bit clouded from the rocky outlet which was the summit. We could just see to the west of us the small Mount Kakepuku which lay between us and Pirongia. Being a bit early for lunch we retreated from the summit to have a short lunch stop at the base of the summit, and the turn-off we were to take to complete our loop.
The track we would follow was again a metal access track used for maintaining the area. We arrived back shortly after 1.00 pm and about ten and half kilometres later. While some of us retired to the café some of us visited the southern enclosure bird sanctuary the time of the day was probably not the best time to visit as the birds seem to be a little inactive from previous reports earlier in the day.
However, we did manage to spot the odd saddle back, Kaka, north island Robin, white heads and in the creek some Koura (freshwater crayfish).
The track was well maintained, easy and had lots of information, feeding stations and a lookout tower above the forest canopy. We manage to cover nearly five kilometres within the enclosure and by the time we got out the distance party had returned, and we were on our way back to our lodgings after a great day tramping.
Being the night of the All Blacks versus the Wallabies game, some of us went into nearby Cambridge for dinner and watch the game, with a small intermission before half-time because of a fire alarm at the local going off. I think that was the big event for Cambridge that evening?
Sunday morning found some, scrambling to arrange breakfast as we had a malfunction because of our undersized kitchen, which poor Roz had to try and sort with management. We had cleaned the kitchen and chalets and Roz had it all ticked of from management by 9.00 am and we were on our way home via the Te Tapui reserve about twenty kilometres south of Morrinsville for another delightful seven-kilometre loop track, the weather was gloriously fine, and we climb to the summit which had a lookout tower.
This was an easy little tramp, and the bush settings were just superb, truly a hidden little gem. It was one final coffee stop at Morrinsville before we were back in Takapuna in no time at all.
A Special thank you to Roz, for her hard work organizing this fantastic, memorable fun weekend before level 4 lockdown got us. HOW LUCKY WERE WE?
Thanks also to our drivers to Arletta and Colin.