It's good to have friends that push you beyond your limits. Especially if they make it happen without you even realising it.
Last week, four of us tramping mamas headed out along the Mount Eliza Mine track at dark o'clock in the morning. Our fearless leader promised a 2-3 hour walk so we could get back to family stuff. This track is a hot spot for hunters so we had our headlamps on full blast, we were decked out in our high fluoro gear, and we nattered away in our most enthusiastic non-dear and un-pig voices. The track was deeply rutted with giant mud pits, making it hard to believe that even a 4WD vehicle could access it. We teetered along the edge of some of the murky pools hoping to keep our feet and bottoms dry upon reaching the other side. As the morning sun began to light the way, we came to a nearly hidden track junction marked by a large, but not obvious, orange triangle (motowalknz has a good photo of this). From here we zigzagged along the track down to cross the Waitekohe Stream, which we rock hopped without difficulty. There was a slip on the other side of the stream, making it a little hard to spot the track. Our fearless leader had sussed it out the week before so knew the track started directly across from where it ended.
Up we went, continuing past the Mount Eliza Mine headed towards the North South Track. After 2 hours, we realised the walk would be longer than planned. Happily, the mobile phone angels gave us reception and we were able to call home about the change in plans: we'd be later than expected and we'd need a rescue in order to make our adventure a loop instead of an out n' back. With children accounted for and one husband on the way, it was onto the North South track for us. Rain jackets on and hoods donned, we continued into the cloud, up and down ladders, over boulders, along slippery gravel, pretending we could see the stunning views from either side of the ridge. Along one of the cliffs, there was a guy-wire that seemed to be randomly placed so we wondered if the clouds might be hiding the reason.
After a tiny detour and a quick stop to chat to the trampers just waking up in the Motutapere Hut we soon joined the Tuahu Track, wide and easy compared to the rest of the day's terrain. As we emerged from the cloud, we discovered waterfalls that don't normally exist and traversed carefully over the exposed areas. Nearly at the carpark, we found our rescuer, admired the massive Kauri trees, and hopped into the car naked with the heat blasting.
And that is how a 2 hour walk imperceptibly becomes a 6 hour adventure.
Mount Eliza Mine - North South - Tuahu Track
Time: 6-7 hours
Difficulty: Moderate. Lots of fun obstacles, a stream crossing, and hills.
Bring your head torch. Wear your high-vis gear. Do not make deer noises.
Buggies: No. For a child-friendly track in the same area, try the Tuahu Kauri Track.
Toilets: Only at the huts.
Dogs: With permit only.
Barefoot: Not tested.