When we reached Rangiwahia Carpark at 10am and started our walk, we got hailed on and it stayed pretty wet and windy for a while. Thanks to our rain jackets we all stayed dry and admired the beautiful beech forest with scattered pahautea (NZ mountain cedar) emerging from the canopy.
About half way, we stopped for photos at the first highlight of the trip, an arching bridge across a deep gorge. From here, the track sidled along a rock wall and eventually reached the bush line, with leatherwood and tussock fields. The hills around us, first covered in mist, became more and more visible. Down coming trampers told us that all the snow on the track had melted, yet we found a few small patches - just enough for a few snow balls!
When we reached Rangiwahia Hut at lunch time, the sun started breaking through as if it had waited for us. The hut was cozy and we gathered around the table and the warm fireplace for a longer break. We were talking to the other trampers while watching the clouds lifting off the landscape. Soon we could see the stunning view with Mt Ruapehu, although its peak remained hidden in cloud...
After learning about the history of Rangiwahia Hut and also about the lovely paintings on the buildings and about the other tracks in the area, we packed up and made our way back down the hill. A piece of cake after the long climb, leaving more room to enjoy the views, listen and look for birds and photograph plants.
(Text by Jorinna)