By Lola Heubeck, 04 July 2019
It was certainly a perfect start to winter. Seven am on the first of June we departed from the hunter carpark heading off to the Ruahines. The weather on the way over wasn’t great but by the time we got to the start of the track the rain had stopped and a thick blanket of fog had laid its way across the mountains. Wrapped up warmly in jackets and beanies we embarked on our adventure. It was a very pleasant somewhat uneventful walk for the first hour so. We made our way through the bush, passing the Alice Nash memorial hut and heading onward towards the iron gate hut, or so we thought. As we got closer and closer to the river Florian began to suspect that we may not be on the correct path and after closely inspecting the map this seemed to be the case. And so, we made our way off the track and into the wilderness of the untouched New Zealand bush and began to bush bash our way in the direction of what we thought was our actual path. After about half an hour of this, the GPS decided to work and it turned out that the path we had abandoned was actually the path we were meant to be on and so we made our way back and continued on. After another few hours of continues up and down and up and down we found our selves outside the iron gate hut. Out first day of tramping was complete. It was a very pleasant evening dinner and mulled wine warmed us up from the inside. The next morning, we disembarked once again aiming to get to the Longview hut. We left the iron gate hut and began to make our way along the path that followed the river- a critical mistake. The orange markers pointed us along a path on the river bank which was now completely flooded and so we decided to stay parallel to the path, remaining in the safety of the bush. It took us a while before we realised that we were not following the path we were supposed to, which meant more bush bashing. we fought our way through the bush climbing up the steep slopes of the Ruahines until finally, Mairead made an exciting discovery, an orange triangle! We had found the track. We were rather worn out at this point, but we decided to continue on a little further and see how we felt before making a decision. The forest turned from green to white as we passed the snow line. The snow-covered ground and leaves freshly dusted with white made for a pristine winter scene. But the weather wasn’t looking great and just after we reached 1000m altitude we decided to make our way back to the iron gate hut. We made our way back following the path we had managed to miss when we had set off that morning. The late afternoon was spent in the relative warmth of the iron gate hut, playing card games and drinking tea and more mulled wine. The next day we set off following the path we had taken on the first day. The weather was stunning and when we reached the carpark we had the most stunning view of the Ruahines, the peaks dusted with snow set against a clear blue sky. It was an amazing weekend, filled with fun and adventure. The perfect start to winter.