Winter starts on the first of June in New Zealand. Mount Taranaki was sunny and snow covered 2 weeks ago in time for the season. Unfortunately, just before we arrived last week, the rain started, washing away the snow and exposing the mud. We had planned a hut bagging holiday in Mount Egmont National Park with a plan to check off the most kid-friendly huts on Mount Taranaki. The plan had gone well so far. Since we arrived, we'd tramped for 6 days and slept in a hut for 4 nights: Pouakai Hut (x2), Holly Hut, and Waingongoro Hut. Maketawa Hut came highly recommended so we saved it for last. We weren't expecting to soak.
The sky around us was white, wet, and windy when we started out, but once among the trees we were sheltered. The only source of water was the ground beneath our feet. Sadie (6) marvelled at the flow of water on the track, "Oh mum, there are waterfalls going over every step!" We quickly stopped puddle jumping and embraced our soggy feet, pressing on to the hut before the cold could set in. With such a wet track, we were relieved to find that the most significant stream crossing was low and it was safe to cross and proceed. The Maketawa Track was more like an obstacle course than any other. We climbed up and down five ladders, balanced across boards, rocked hopped across streams, edged along trenches and balanced atop slippery wooden slats.
At the hut we changed into our dry clothes and huddled by the fire before bundling ourselves into our sleeping bags for the night. For a short time, the clouds thinned and we had a peak of Mount Taranaki, the stars above, and a passing airplane. The next morning we tramped up, up, up the ridgeline to the Translator Road. We were surrounded by cloud on all sides with no rain or wind. It was easy to imagine the beautiful views on a clear day from the summit to the plains. Once we reached Translator Road the snowball fights began in earnest. We finished the tramp with a walk through the Nature Loop next to the North Egmont Visitor's Centre, then popped into the car with the heat blasting.
Mission accomplished with four huts bagged. Still more on the list for next time, including Syme Hut and the summit track.
Mount Taranaki, Egmont National Park
Distance: ~3km each way
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Most descriptions of this track will call it easy. In consideration of my short-legged friends, those new to tramping, and weirdos who venture out in winter, I'll go with moderate.
Buggies: No. Child carrier backpack, yes.
Dogs: Prohibited with $100 000 fine. Dogs are rarely permitted, but dogs have been used as part of goat control programs in the park.
Barefoot: Not tested, but achievable for the experienced barefooter in warm, dry conditions.
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