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On top of the Tararuas

Image of the June 2019 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
June 2019 Issue

Girdlestone, Tararua Forest Park

I never expect a clear day in the Tararuas, a place renowned for its exposure and unsettled weather, so when we started our day from Jumbo Hut in thick mist, I figured it was par for the course and expected it to remain that way all day. I was wrong.

As we made our way up to Angle Knob towards the Broken Axe Pinnacles, we were blessed with blue skies and sunshine. Just as well – the pinnacles are where we encountered a knife-edge ridge which would have been much trickier to negotiate in poor visibility.

As we passed the Three Kings, we were feeling pretty beat after nine-hours of ridgeline walking. But we had one more climb – to the top of Girdlestone – before we could finally drop our packs at Tarn Ridge Hut.

At the summit, higher than the clouds, we took in this stunning view, awed by its grandeur into quiet solitude. So clear was the view, we could see Mt Ruapehu and Mt Taranaki poking their tops out from the clouds.

It was a moment to remember.

– Jack Austin

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Total Ascent
2150m to Tarn Ridge hut
Road end to Jumbo Hut, 4-6hr; To Tarn Ridge Hut, 9-11hr
Jumbo Hut ($15, 20 bunks); Tarn Ridge Hut ($5, 16 bunks)
From Mt Holdsworth Road end
BN34, BP34

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Tarn Ridge Hut via Girdlestone (gpx, 11 KB)

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