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June 2015 Issue
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Mud, sweat and tears

Photo: Katie Furze
10hr return
Crosbies Hut, 10 bunks
Waiomu Valley Road, off SH25 north of Thames
BB34, BB35
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Crosbies Hut via Waiomu Valley Tramping Track (gpx, yo 21 KB)
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Crosbies Hut via Waiomu Valley Tramping Track, Coromandel Forest Park / moderate

We’d been to the Waiomu Kauri Grove several times so we knew it was a pleasant stroll to one of the best kauri stands in the Coromandel Peninsula. I imagined tramping to Crosbies Hut, just a little further in, would be a gentle climb and an easy ramble out the next day. The reality is a bit different. We were warned – the sign at the start of the Waiomu Valley Track advised it’s a route for experienced trampers only.

We scoffed at this. Had I studied a topo map more closely, I would have seen the track climbs steeply from sea level to 700m and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Our party of two adults and three exuberant youngsters started out at the Waiomu Valley Road end. The trail meanders through the forest following the stream and it had been improved since our last visit; stream crossings had been replaced by bridges, and the track had been levelled and gravelled.
We passed the disused Monowai goldmine battery and, further on, a mine shaft.

The path climbed gradually and at the final bridge we caught a glimpse of the kauri towering above. Staring in awe at the beautiful trees we made our way up the 200-odd steps. At the top we sat for a while on the thoughtfully placed seat appreciating this idyllic spot.

After this point the track changes into a tramping track, it climbs steeply and there are many tree roots to be negotiated. The kauri trees merge into a mixed native forest with hard beech, podocarp, ferns, nikau, vines and epiphytes. We found the track overgrown, and there were lots of fallen trees, so we were grateful for the frequent orange markers.

The track goes up and up and soon we were sweating and stopping often to catch our breath. One of the kids even cried.

“Don’t worry,” I said, trying to sound cheerful. “We’ve got all day to get there.” Secretly, I was wondering if we’d make it. Luckily my daughter found green tanguru chafer beetles we’d never seen before which helped distract the troops.

Past the main range junction at 690m the going gets easier. It was a relief to emerge from the forest and see blue sky as we walked through Crosbies Settlement, the site of a farm from 1880 to the 1970s. We tramped on through low scrubby growth of grasses, ferns, gorse and manuka.

A final test awaited us before the hut – one more blister-inducing incline. Somehow we made it – after five hours of sweat, tears and curses.

Crosbies Hut is a 10 bunker with pleasant views to Table Mountain in the south and Camelback Rock in the north. A memorial out front says: “In memory of Heidi Paakonen and Urban Höglin who died tragically near here, 8/9 April 1989”.

We met our four hut-mates who’d tramped from the Kauaeranga Valley that morning. While we sat chatting and watching swallows swoop around the hut, our kids scrambled up the ladder and claimed the top row of mattresses.

After breakfast the next day we headed back through Crosbies Settlement. At the main range we took the Te Puru Track through dense hardwood and podocarp forest. At first the track undulates and we passed the highest point of 720m without realising it.

But what goes up must come down. The kids charged downhill energetically, while the adults trailed behind. We scrambled over and under vines and rotten logs, struggling to find the way at times.

I was starting to stumble from fatigue and wondering when it would end when I was cheered by a group of friendly fantails. Finally, we heard the gurgle of the creek, and we knew we were nearly there.

We crossed the water three times, and eventually made it to the Te Puru Creek Road end, five hours after we started. I couldn’t decide which was harder: up or down.

It was a tough couple of days, but well worth it.

– Katie Furze