New Zealand trip away 2018
Twenty three members of the club recently travelled to New Zealand and based themselves in New Plymouth on the West coast of the North Island. Helen and I undertook the necessary reconnaissance for Trekkers and Hikers walks the week prior to the group’s arrival. An unseasonal cyclone passed through the area during that week but the weather cleared in time for the groups to start walking. Mount Taranaki /Egmont is the predominant feature of the area and most walks were in the National park that surrounds the mountain. Parts of the park receive up to six meters of rain per year so the vegetation is very lush thick with ferns and broad leafed trees draped with moss while the terrain is intersected with rapid flowing streams.
A major achievement for the Trekkers group was the ascent of the mountain. After studying the weather all week the group assembled at 6.am and set off to the North Egmont visitors centre car park at an altitude of 990 m leaving a climb of 1500m to the summit. Helen’s brother John Marfell, an ex-member of the volunteer mountain search and rescue service, led the group. We started walking at 7.30am and by morning tea reached the last and highest hut on the mountain, a climb of around 500m. A long line of steep steps was followed by a very slippery and torturous section of loose gravel and stone before arriving at the base of a solidified lava flow called The Lizard located about two thirds of the way up.
From there the ascent became steeper but at least the rock was firmer underfoot. This section of the climb led to a narrow opening through a crag into the side of the crater. The crater floor was still covered in ice and snow which we traversed to the far side. The temperature at this point had dropped considerably as too had our energy levels. Everyone had lunch and put on some extra layers of clothes before tackling the final 80m climb over very loose rock up to the summit on the lip of the crater at.2518m ASL.
Fortunately, the clouds had lifted during the ascent so we were treated to a clear view all the way to the horizon.
The descent proved to be more eventful than the climb as almost everyone fell over at least once on the loose and traitorous scree. Four and half hours later everyone arrived safely back at the car park after a 10 hour marathon walk to be remembered.