An obituary for backcountry huts: Te Urewera

When it was announced that the backcountry huts of Te Urewera were to be removed, we couldn’t resist having one final valedictory tour…

Friday: Te Pakau to Otanetea Hut

It was a miracle we even made it to Te Urewera, with Regan demonstrating navigational skills equal to a headless homing pigeon. After a full loop of Rotorua and some rather tasty custard squares from Pantry D’or we finally managed to locate one of the largest tracts of native forest in the North Island. Winding alongside the Tauranga awa we passed horses, marae and headless deer hitching a ride on a ute, jealously guarded by kurī bouncing around on the bonnet. We took Regan’s station wagon as far as we could before parking up and setting off down the road through Tauwharemanuka. I shouted a happy “kia ora” to a kaumatua trotting past on his horse. In response he let flow in Te Reo, to which I managed a shaky “up the river” before he shrugged and continued on his way. The wind whipped furiously down the valley as we headed deeper into Te Urewera. From Tauwharemanuka our route took us along an old dray road and into the forest.

Saturday: Otanetea Hut to Mangatoatoa Hut

At 5am one of the pair went out for a hunt, leaving the snoring ringleader behind. We tried to be as quiet as possible in the morning, as not to disturb the sleeping bear. Strangely when the beast did awake it appeared he had rather warmed up to us and I think he was sad to see us depart. We were not sad. Our route for the morning took us back along the sidle track on the true-left - in the daylight it was a lot easier to follow! Rather than dropping to the confluence we stayed high above the awa, following its right branch for a further kilometre or so before emerging out onto its banks.

Sunday: Mangatoatoa Hut to Te Pakau

Another beautiful bluebird day greeted us when we woke. We weren’t entirely sure where our destination was for the day, just that it would be in the direction of Te Pua Hut. With this in mind we set off up the hill behind the hut. About 500 metres into the endeavour Regan exclaim “oh no, I’ve left the InReach at the Hut!”. Mat was duly sent back to retrieve said InReach, whilst Hugh hailed Mat’s pack further up the hill. On reaching the top of the next rise Regan sheepishly admitted that he had the InReach in his pocket. Mat did return, complete with a piece of coal to remind Regan of his sins.

Send him back to get the In-Reach

Squeak his chair cause he thinks its fun-ny*

Tell him we call blue duck ‘whi — o’

Take all his sachets of racist mi-lo

Spill his milk on his bis-cuits**

*Yes he really did this when we were trying to get to sleep



Tramper with something to say about tramps (of the walking variety).

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Sam Harrison

Tramper with something to say about tramps (of the walking variety).