Waihohonu Hut, Desert Road, Tongariro National Park
Team: Mark, Spike, Me
Date: 06-07 Feb 2016
Unfortunately, this meant long-weekend Friday night traffic to get out of town, and we made the mistake of trying going via Masterton instead of straight up the coast. Given Spike slept all the way to Masterton, sitting in traffic for a similar time to get to Levin would have been fine. We ran into the club van, headed for Tukino, at Taihape – they had left an hour after us.
Spike then stayed awake all the way to our nearly-midnight arrival at the lodge, and took a chunk of persuading to go to sleep, even once the lights were off and Mark and I were nearly asleep ourselves.
Bookending our night at the hut with nights at the lodge meant we could leave fresh food and non-tramping belongings behind while we tramped, rather than having to leave things in the car.
Having the lodge to ourselves also meant that we didn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone.
Saturday morning arrived with indecent haste. We only had an hours drive and about 2.5 hours walk ahead of us for the day, so there was no rush, but we also wanted to be at the hut at a reasonable time, in order to attempt to snag a set of bottom bunk mattresses together. Lunch was made, water bladders were filled, packs were packed (and seemed indecently full for a single night trip). It was cool and drizzly at the lodge, with an average forecast so we dressed accordingly, locked up and wandered down to the car.
The forecast was wrong. While it never actually rained, it stayed overcast. So instead of being cool and wet, and it was stuffy and muggy. Not the best weather for getting the best movement out of a not-quite 3 year old who doesn’t like to walk long distances anyway!
Liberal applications of food, water, and lollies, along with several sessions where Mark and I carried Spike on our shoulders on top of our packs as well, still didn’t get us to the hut before Mark and I started hitting spent, and Spike started melting down. So I raced ahead to dump my pack and then come back to carry Spike the last chunk in the Tula we had bought for this purpose. Incredibly, Spike perked up and started moving at a reasonable clip once he was down to only being with Mark, and so my carry wasn’t that far.
Spike perked up once we were at the hut, charming everyone, eating anything he could get his hands on, and running around everywhere constantly. Dinner was roundly ignored, as was dessert, but while we could tell he was tired, he refused to go to sleep until it was dark – the same time the last of the adults went to bed.
Sunday morning dawned deathly early. We really should have bought the blackout blind to the hut. Thankfully, Spike was tired enough to go back to sleep for another half hour / 45 minutes to a time when more of our hut mates were also waking up.
The weather had cleared overnight and we were greeted by clear skies and cooler temperatures. Spikes enthusiasm for walking died after a very short time, and we had used the bulk of our lolly stash getting to the hut. Two nights of poor sleep were also telling on our tempers. Tantrums were had (both toddler and adult ones), carries were given, threats were made to leave Spike behind (I couldn’t do it. If he wandered off track we would never find him).
When we got to the last segment before the car, we reversed the day before and sent Mark off to dump his pack and come back to collect. Again Spike picked up the pace markedly when there was only one adult around, and Mark barely managed to turn around before we were there.
More food was divvied out and we headed to Turangi for an early lunch and a swim in their indoor pools (which were both cheap and wonderfully refreshing), before heading back to the lodge for an early dinner and early night.
Thankfully, Mondays drive home was drama-free. We stopped in Ohakune and Levin for food, playgrounds and icecreams.
I wont lie – this trip was HARD work. We definitely over-estimated how interesting the track and surrounds were for a pre-schooler. And I think the distance was a little far. But we’ll try again, for sure.