Some ground rules for winter tramping:
- Tell family/friends where you’re going and what route you’re taking
- Check the weather forecast beforehand
- Bring sufficient warm clothing and water proof over-gear
- Study the map beforehand
- Bring a proper map/compass
- Don’t veer off the track
We convinced Dave to join us for a day walk from Whatipu, and then promptly managed to follow none of these rules.
Our plan was to start at Whatipu, head up towards the coast to the Parahaha Stream, and from there, head off the ‘track’ and venture inland joining up with the Parahara Valley/Gibbons track leading back down to Whatipu.
The day started promisingly. We were greeted with refreshing sunny winter weather, as we followed the rugged west coast up towards the Parahaha Valley. And then the rain started. I convinced my fellow trampers, that it was only temporary, that I checked the weather forecast and it would be mostly fine with ‘some rain’, and we were just going through the ‘some rain’ part. (I didn’t mention I had actually checked the forecast two days ago.)
After walking along the beach for about an hour, and being not quite sure where we were, we decided to head in-land, lest we miss the stream mouth. Of course heading inland from the coast of Whatipu, meant negotiating nearly 2km of swamp. In torrential rain. Together with the 1m high swamp flora this was a surprisingly exhausting journey. And it came to an abrupt end at a very deep riverlet. Undeterred, we circled about in the swamp for another hour or so, before admitting defeat, and heading back to the coast.
Another hour later we finally found a lunching spot at a nice warm dry cave in the form of Dave’s car.
Despite rain, mud, and general wetness, it’s still an inspiring walk. The coast is rugged, the waves wild, inviting only the most daring of surfers, and the bush an untouched wilderness. The area has caves, exciting knee+ deep swamps to trudge through, rivers, bush, lighthouses, beaches, sand-dunes, forest, and more. The only requirement is to be prepared to get personal with mud, and a lot of muddy water.
Looking back at our trek, it seems we went wrong by turning inland just 100m or so too soon, coming in on the wrong side of the stream.
Now much more knowledgeable we will return on a sunny day, with dry clothes, a good map and complete, what should be, a fantastic walk.
Hopefully, Dave will still join us.