The train to Tauwharenīkau
On Thursday I sat in my office chair looking out the 11th floor window at the bustling world of the city and thought “I ought to plan a trip tomorrow”. The only problem was that my car had failed it’s warrant of fitness and I was left without wheels. Not to be deterred, I remembered reading about a train station that sat just three kilometres from the edge of the Tararua Range, Woodside. As an extra incentive, the Government’s half-price public transport fare scheme was ending at the end of the month. The embryo of an idea was beginning to form. I would take the train to Woodside on Friday, before climbing over Mt Reeves to Tutuwai Hut in the Tauwharenīkau Valley.* From there I would walk out down the valley, over the Puffer track and finish by strolling to the Upper Hutt train station some ten kilometres distant. Hugh, a third of a bottle of good-rum deep, replied to a message from me on Thursday night saying he was keen to join, but the earliest Friday train he could make was the 4.25pm. It would be a night walk.
*Note that the name Tauherenikau is not the correct Māori name for the valley, and following the Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki Nui a Rua Treaty Settlement the name will be changed to Tauwharenīkau, meaning house made of nīkau (a type of palm).
1. The Black Forest
Woodside Station to Tutuwai Hut via Mt Reeves
The trip did not start well. I made the easy 1.5km trek down the hill from my house to Tawa station only to discover that the 3.47pm train wasn’t up on the board. However, as I was shitting myself on the platform I saw the train roll up and soon I was on my way to Wellington. I met Hugh on the platform at Wellington station, and feeling like tourists we joined the throng of commuters boarding the 4.25 train to the Wairarapa. Bollywood tunes echoed from headphones unknown as the train made its way up the Hutt. The sun was setting by the time the train entered the tunnel under the Remutaka Range. The world on the far side was inky black, making it hard to discern where the tunnel stopped and the Wairarapa began. The train soon rolled up to Woodside station and we disembarked into the darkness just before 6pm.