Me wandering through the snow along Waihaha track. Photo: Robert Vennell
Last month I organised a weekend hiking trip with my friends. The weekend that suited us all happened to end up being the coldest weekends of the year, there was a weather bomb and a snow dump that closed many main roads. Fortunately for us we were still able to get away and ended up having a wonderful winter walk in Pureora Forest Park.
We walked the Waihaha track to the Waihaha hut. This was a very easy flat walk, about 3 hours from the road end to the hut. There were river views along the way, with waterfalls and wetlands and the track was lightly dusted with ice.We could tell the track hadn't been walked in weeks, due to spiderwebs and a few downed trees, which is a shame as it was a magical walk.
Upon reaching the hut, imagine our surprise to find another group there, in severe weather warnings who obviously had come from another track. The other group were an extreme bunch who were training for Godzone (an adventure race). They had walked 10 hours through snow storms and deep river crossings! It was quite a contrast in hiking styles, our relaxed and comfortable trip compared to their extreme training trip!
Waiahaha hut in the early morning.
I had organised the group dinner (feeding 5) of pasta, as the Bin Inn in Onehunga has recently opened and stocks pasta. For long time readers you will know this was something I really struggled to find plastic free, so this is quite a win for me. Normally I don't buy canned food as tins are often plastic lined, however I do make excepts for hiking trips.
Low waste pasta ingredients:
A bag of loose pasta, purchased in a mesh bag.
2 tins of pasta sauce
1 tin of vegetarian nutmeat
Kale, from my Ooooby box and transported in a mesh bag
Almond 'parmesan' made using almonds and nutritional yeast, purchased from Bin Inn in my own jars.
Coconut oil (carried in a reused plastic container & zip bag)
Salt & pepper (also in a reused plastic container)
I cooked everything in my tramping pots on my tramping stove (using a gas canister). We washed the tin cans to carry out, and collected the food scraps to take home and compost.
For dessert I bought a packet of jelly (cardboard and paper), which we left to set outside in the snow. We had hot chocolates (drinking chocolate bought from Bin Inn directly in my container) and spiced them with horopito leaves we collected from a downed tree along the walk, or some of the BF's homemade whisky. We roasted marshmallows, which I also purchased from Bin Inn, over the fire. It was great having the fire as a lot of the other group's gear was wet and it was very chilly. I had bought some newspaper and dryer lint to use as a fire starter which helped.
Horopito (left) hot chocolates
The following day we all had our own breakfasts, everyone packed porridge. I purchase quick oats from Bin Inn and mix them with brown sugar and scroggin mix. We carried snacks bought from the bulk bin, fruit, veggies, peanut butter (also bought from Bin Inn) and Whittaker's chocolate.
We walked out the same way as the day previous, which was enjoyable as we got to experience the track in different lighting, and take more photos.
View of the river from the track. Photo: Robert Vennell
Once back out on the road, with a a nervous run across the main road as the carpark is on the other side, we set off for Waihora lagoon. The wetland was a 10-15 minute drive, mostly along a very pot hole ridden road. The wetland walk was a pleasant 10 minute stroll (one way), although the end of the track was quite entertaining. The wetland is an ephemeral wetland, meaning it's likely to be dry in summer and wet in winter. The boardwalk at the end of the track is constructed to allow for accessibility all seasons. However on the day we visited, following a week of rain and snow, the boardwalk was fully submerged. One of my friend's was brave enough to go right out to the viewing platform and informed us it was worth the icy water. So we all braved the knee deep piercing water for the view, and it was absolutely worth it.
Spot the boardwalk!
After our wetland adventure we headed to Taupo for some food and a trip to Huka Falls. The drive in to Taupo was very scenic as the hills were coated with lashings of snow. We had also intended on thawing out at a hot spring but we were all knackered at this point and had the long boring drive back to the big smoke.
I would highly recommend Waiahaha Track for anyone who likes easy overnight hikes, it is pretty family friendly also, although a bit isolated.
Our total landfill trash for the trip; my annual hut pass that expired that week & 1 hut ticket for the BF.