Just one more river to cross (but dozens of times)

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Ngaruroro River walk to Cameron Hut, 2 March 2021
Map: B37
Banner picture: yet another wary wade – note the current…

Luckily, it was a dull morning with no wind and we were full of enthusiasm to try our best to get to Cameron Hut. Cherie, Jo, Bruce and Di set off along the Ngaruroro River while Ted, Tony, Anne and Stefanie headed up to Kuripapango.

Bruce had looked up the depth and flow of the river and said he wished it was three inches lower (while showing his age at the same time). He was right; three inches would have made a lot of difference! But Jo has longer legs…

The track to the wire bridge was quite muddy; the blackberries on the way were yummy, and so down to the river we went. The first crossing was easy, quite shallow, shorts still dry. The second wasn’t! Water to our waists, not cold but fast-flowing with large, green, slippery boulders. Two poles became essential kit.

There was a discussion about walking with the flow, not against it and best way to use the poles. Jo was amazing with her longer, strong legs and her love of rivers, so she led the way into the water and became the pathfinder. “It only comes to the top of my legs”, she would say – which meant it came to our waists. I almost floated away at one point and had visions of being picked up at Clive. However, none of us got completely soaked, which was good.

As we zig-zagged our way, some paths on the sides of the river were easy to find – almost like a motorway – and others we struggled to find, bush-bashed a bit and sometimes it was just rock-hopping alongside the river. We wished we had brought some ribbon to re-mark some of the paths. We didn’t stop for morning (or afternoon) tea – just a quick drink. I think we might have got cold had we stopped for even ten minutes.

Many crossings were relatively easy but two or three proved very tricky and we had to pick our way carefully. We crossed somewhere between 15 and 18 times before we reached the hut at 1pm. We were so chuffed to get there and the sun came out for our lunch, which was fabulous. It had taken just three and half hours to get there and it took a bit less time going back.

There had been no wind in the morning but by the time we started back, a cool wind had set in; but no one got particularly cold and the tracks within the bush were sheltered. So, no chance of hypothermia.

It clouded over again in the afternoon and we had some patches of light drizzle – we were only really wet from the waist down. We unintentionally took a slightly different route back, so I’m guessing there are various tracks. Cherie was stung by a wasp, but it didn’t seem to bother her too much.

We were much more confident going back, and crossing with the flow made it easier. We reached the car at 5.15pm. Everyone was really pleased to have done it. It was a great day despite of lack of sunshine – but we are sunny, optimistic trampers and that shone through.

Trampers to Cameron: Bruce Hodgson, Cherie Le Lievre, Johanne Karlsson and reporter Di Reid. Trampers to Kuripapango: Ted Angove, Tony Pluymers, Anne Blackwell and Stefanie Young

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I'm a writer who focuses on the outdoors and travel. I share my time between Alaska and Colorado, where, when I'm not writing, I enjoy camping, kayaking, hiking, fishing, and skiing (often with dogs in tow). My byline may also be seen in publications such as The New York Times, National Geographic, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and others.


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