Put some proverbial “feelers” out today, and had a bit of a nosey around the Waiohine Gorge-end of the Tararua Forest Park.
I hit the road, home-girl in-tow, and together we headed straight for Carterton in the Wairarapa. Simple enough from here in Wellington City, as you just travel along SH2 until you get there.
The turn-off to the Gorge immediately south of Carterton is extremely visible – you can’t miss it. Take it, and follow the yellow signs directing you to Waiohine Gorge, and then on to Waiohine Gorge Road. At the very end of this road is your treasure. Do not deviate from your course.
Now, Waiohine Gorge has itself a suspension bridge (also known as a ‘swing’ bridge), and it is something else. It’s big, and it’s long, and it’s the very first thing you encounter upon parking the car and heading-off into the bush to begin your intrepid journey.
I can honestly say: it’s a monster. And, I would not want to be stuck on it in a howling gale.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kinda view from the thing, though.
Once you’re over, then the real work begins – literally.
If you choose to take the ‘Cone Hut’ hiking route (*we did), you cross a fairly tame little creek first-up before you crawl, drag, pull, and climb your way up one aspect of the Tararua Range (your other option takes you to Totara Flats Hut). But – no, seriously, but – the forest and the flora you encounter on this journey are quite simply a-mazing.
It’s all incredibly intrepid, and you really need to allocate an entire day (or-so – or more) to doing just one aspect. My advice is to take your pick, and then go back another time and do the other. That’s what we plan to do. It was very clear today that we simply hadn’t managed our time well enough to do either – no matter, because we left with a solid sense of what’s to come, and the ‘how’ part of that equation.
I think when all the traffic you encounter on a hike is going against your flow, and it’s glaringly obvious from meet-and-greets that they’re locals, that’s a spectacularly ominous sign and you should definitely re-think your plan.
People get into bad situations on New Zealand’s tracks and trails all too easily, and it’s so simple to see how, sometimes.
So, always-always-always be safe, eh.