I looked at yr.no and balked. ‘It’s exactly the same weather as last time! Grrrr. ‘ I grizzle these words to Jack as I pack my “good rain jacket.” We have a habit of being around otherwise balmy beach towns in horrific weather and the next couple days would be no different. 27mm of rain followed by 33mm of rain didn’t make for the nicest return to the outdoors. It had been almost a month since our self isolation ended but we found that the big C lingered in our bodies and our big return to the world outside our whare was slow, steady and somewhat reluctant.
We planned a small getaway after Easter weekend to the coromandel which included a quick overnight tramp to Waitawheta Hut in Kaimai – Mamaku Forest, a place well known for its native milling industry and decimation of kauri trees. Our trail follows the Waitawheta tramway, an engineering feat designed for shifting freshly milled kauri logs from the Waitawheta Mill out of the bush via the spectacular Waitawheta Gorge. But for the all the damage that was done we were surprised to see much of the bush has recovered and while the giants of the forest, our kauri trees, have been lost the punga and younger native hardwoods (miro, totara, kaiwaka etc) seemed to be in abundance.
Through regenerating bush we meander alongside the Waitawheta River that remained gentle and steady as soft rain showered over us consistently. Tramway sleepers and studs are still dotted along the trail and about halfway to the hut we reach a bogie-the perfected transport for kauri logs through the gorge. For the most part all of the river crossings are bridged except for one crossing. After quick 2 hours we reach it rand rock hop over easily. Just before reaching the hut we explore the restored mill site before we gladly strip off our soggy layers on the Waitawheta Hut porch. The hut is surprisingly large and modern and as it is an easy tramp its obviously popular with families. We meet two families who have been at the hut for a couple days, extending their stay due to the weather. Out of what appears to be complete boredom the kids are still up for a river swim despite the deluge and we watch them trudge off in the rain as we get the jetboil on. Our afternoon is easily passed in front of the fire reading books and we fall asleep to the sound of rain hammering the hut roof.
The next day we awake to the fury of a southerly wind. The surrounding bush around the hut shakes with gusto as mist billows around the distant bluffs. We unfortunately don’t get a chance to explore the nearby loop trail as the rain picks too, the weather deteriorating even further. We opt for a leisurely morning of book reading before we head back to the trail, donning our gear that has dried out overnight but we a soaked to the bone within 10 minutes. Once we return to the river crossing oh how it has morphed! Raging brown with tannins we consider backtracking to the alternative high river route before finding a crotch deep spot above the rapids. We cross quickly, careful not to loose our balance. Less than 2 hours later we get back to the car absolutely soaked but happy – we were out there again.