Waitawheta Tramway is a super easy and relaxed tramp, providing plenty of history and views. I would highly recommend it for families with young children or older hikers wanting an easy overnight trip. Which was what most of the demographic hiking over this weekend was made up of. We were a group of 10 Aucklanders just wanting a super relaxed and easy hike in a short driving distance and a bit of swimming on the side. The track was everything I wanted and expected. It was completely flat, an easy 2 hours drive from Auckland, and only 2-3 hours walk.
Heading in to the fields of wildflowers
The top waterfall
Despite the track being easy, it still provided plenty of great sights. The track follows the Waitawheta river starting in a rural farm setting then quickly opening onto luscious fields of wildflowers and long grasses. The forest starts about 20-30 minutes from the carpark and follows the course of river for the rest of the hike. There are plenty of swing bridges which provide interesting views of casading cliffs full of vegetation and interesting rock formations. There is a side track to see some large Kauri trees, but in our excitement to swim we missed this alternative track on both days. The track is really well maintained and majority of the bridges can accommodate more than one person. Remnants of the tramway and even a log bogie can be found along the track. There was only one shallow river crossing, which most of us crossed while keeping our boots dry. Just before the hut is a wooden bridge about 10 metres above the river, which has eroded a deep channel and has two tiers of waterfalls. There is a steep side track which leads you down to the bottom waterfall where you can swim. The swim was freezing but totally worth it after hiking in the sun.
We camped next to the hut as it was fully booked out. Camping required one standard hut ticket ($5 or an annual hut pass) and no booking. There is a large clearing and plenty of space to camp amongst the grass, however the BF and another group member had bad hayfever from the long grass. There were also a few sandflies so I would recommend insect repellent or long sleeves and socks. I am glad I decided to make this a camping trip as the hut proved to be quite noisy with young children waking up very early in the morning (we are a group of 20 somethings after all). We walked back along the same track the next day, stopping for a swim along the way.
Dinner prep- many hands make light work!
As I was the trip organizer I chose and shopped for our group dinner, everyone had their own snacks and lunches. We did a group dinner for 6 which was vegetarian and 99% waste free (the other 4 chose to do their own meals to cater for their dietary requirements). We had vegetarian burgers and cous cous. I decided I couldn't deprive the group of cheese so bought some camembert cheese which comes wrapped in foil paper, with a sticker on it. This was our only rubbish for the group dinner (and my only rubbish for the whole trip). I bought the buns loose from the supermarket (in an upcycled pillow case), lettuce and all the veges were bought loose in mesh bags. The burger patties were Quorn and came in a cardboard box, which I recycled. I made hummus from chickpeas bought in bulk, and I made a no-egg mayonaise using the aquafaba produced from cooking the chickpeas! Aquafaba is a miracle ingredient that can replace eggs, I have been experimenting with it a lot lately and even made meringues after discovering it thanks to Treading My Own Path. The burgers were served with a side of cous cous which I was also bought in bulk, and flavoured with tumeric and raisins. Most of the food was carried in reused Ziploc bags and plastic containers, as we have to carry everything glass is not ideal.
Dinner! I had to refrain from devouring my burger for this photo
Breakfast was porridge which I made up using bulk bin quick oats, brown sugar and milk powder. Our snacks were apples, carrots, hard boiled eggs, chocolate, bulk bin scroggin and peanut butter. All of our food scraps were carried out in a container and composted when I got home.
Our toiletries, the containers are reused dip containers
Our rubbish for the trip was the BF's hut ticket (I use an annual hut pass) and the cheese wrappers.
Our tramping rubbish
You may have noticed I was absent last week, I was taking a small social media break to get over my cold and plan this trip. I will be camping over the Christmas and New Year period as well so will be out of reach for a wee while. I am getting nervous as to how I am going to eat waste free while completely off the grid for over a week, I will do a blog post on how I fared when I return.