On 27th Dec. 8 bods all converged on the two huts at Hopuruahine landing, by the road at the head of Lake Waikaremoana. The better of the two huts was occupied and soon dinner was cooked and eaten. At this stage, Bill, Mike and I all decided that the hut was too full and so Mike departed to his car for the night while Bill and I sauntered up to the other hut to see if there was any room there. We were absolutely amazed on our arrival there when one of its occupants gave us the keys of his 1967 Holden Station Wagon and offered to let us sleep there.
Next morning we proceeded to bush bash around the lake edge to the first hut (Te Puna). We would use tracks for the rest of the trip however. Lake Waikaremoana was formed a few thousand years ago by a huge landslide blocking a gorge - the position of this landslide can be seen clearly from the top of the Panekiri bluffs. Because of this and the steep nature of the countryside, the lake has many deep narrow inlets where once streams flowed. Being so long and narrow, negotiating these streams is quite frustrating. Originally, the bush around the lake went right down to the water's edge. However, several years ago the Electricity Department lowered the level of the lake with the result that the shores are now spoilt by a large number of flats which are covered by either thick manuka or high grass.
After walking across some of these grass flats and sidling a bluff on a sort of track, the first such inlet was reached. An hour and a half later we stood on the other side - 20 yds away. This was because of a bluff on the other side of the inlet the negotiation of which involved much advanced vegetable climbing technique. The three members of the party who had done little or no tramping before got rather a rude introduction to tramping here. At this stage Bill and I resolved to swim all inlets from now on. We kept our resolution but it wasn't till two days later that others joined us. The rest of the day was spent in not too pleasant sidling around the shores page 14of the lake, which sloped steeply and were covered with large boulders and awkwardly placed logs. Eventually we reached the start of the track over a low saddle to Te Puna hut. After following a Milford type track for about half an hour, we reached the already full hut in the usual pouring rain. At some stage on this day the sport of underwater rock chundering was born - we could actually hear the boulders rolling under the water for quite some time after they were released. This sport was practised for the rest of the trip around the lake but never again were we quite so successful as we were on this day.
After an early morning swim, a breakfast of macaroni cheese was endured and soon we were on our way in rather doubtful weather. We were now following a track around the lake. Lunch was had at a pleasant sandy beach and soon we arrived at Marauiti hut in the usual pouring rain. After we arrived here Mike went out with his rifle in search of deer but, as he did for the rest of the trip, he had no luck. So, having no venison, we were forced to eat a foul dehy stew in front of four canoeists who were eating half-inch slabs of bacon. Next morning, we ate macaroni cheese as the canoeists ate fried seasoned trout steaks.
Needless to say, the departure to Waiopaoa hut was accompanied by a large number of "I hate canoeists" oaths. This day was much the same as the previous one - following around the lake accompanied by the usual rain. At the last inlet before the hut (one which takes 15 min. to round) the number of inlet swimmers was increased to four (Deidre and Nev being the new ones.) The arrival at the hut was accompanied by a classical display of power bludging which resulted in some passing fishermen donating us a freshly caught trout which was consumed with great relish the next morning.
We then left the lake and proceeded up a track which was reminiscent of those in the botanical gardens - only the names of the trees were missing and soon we were climbing up the last steep bit to the top of the Panekiri bluffs, from which a magnificent view of the lake was enjoyed. Panekiri hut was soon reached and here we were actually able to sunbathe for a short time. However, Huey was soon back again this time bringing thunder and lightning with him. The hut is situated at the highest point on the range and many of the thunderclaps were sufficient to shake the hut considerably - not a pleasant feeling. To celebrate the day (New Year's Eve) some decent food was eaten. Mike and Nev had brought this up before the trip began. New Year's Day dawned with a howling gale and more rain. This wind was hitting the thousand foot bluff whose top was about 20 ft. from the hut and rising straight upwards and over the ridge. The result was that when we page 15tried to toss our empty tins over the bluff, they just rose up and over our heads to land about a hundred feet behind us. However, we were soon on our way and all had arrived at the Onepoto road end by 10 a.m. to move off to our various destinations.
Note: Although it rained every day on this trip, three of us did not wear parkas once - it was easier to just simply get wet and stay wet.
Party: Bill Radford (leader), Nev Lupton, Mike Clear, Deidre Lewis, Betsy Braebrook, Mary Seelye, Alan Young, Keith Jones.