Day 2 – Starting the Wangapeka Track
Saturday morning, the first day on the Wangapeka Track.
Had breakfast, loaded up the packs, early morning tea (the remains of last night’s fish and chips) and headed out at 9am with Colin the nice owner of Tapawere Settle who drove us to the beginning of the Wangapeak Track, for a very reasonable $10 each considering it’s a 45 minute drive one way.
The first day of the tramp is an easy 11 kilometre walk with just under 200 meters rise in height while walking alongside the Wangapeka River.
Most excitingly within 15 minutes Julianne spotted 5 Whio (Blue Duck). The Whio is a very rare NZ bird, and is unusual for a duck in that it lives in fast flowing rapids such as in the Wangapeka River.
A few years ago is was discovered that stoats pose the largest risk to whio. And stoats cannot easily be poisoned like possums and rats but have to be caught one by one in traps. A huge trapping programme is now in place alongside the rivers in this area to bring down the stoat numbers – and in doing so the whio have begun to recover which is great news, and seeing so many so Whio quickly was great. We continually passed stoat traps over the next 6 days of the tramp.
I didn’t’ see any Robins on the first day which is unusual, but did see a few Riflemen, NZ’s smallest bird.
By the end of the first day I was very tired, which is to be expected as my body gets used to walking along with a heavy pack again plus the track had disappeared under my right foot at one point and I landed on my left knee what had left a decent graze which Julianne cleaned in the cold river at the end of the day. The track on the first day was not too bad as DOC still maintains this section.
The night was spent in the Historic Cecil Kings Hut, a hut built by a gold prospector in the 1930’s, who used to return to the hut and work his gold mining claim until his death in 1982.
I absolutely loved staying in an old historic hut from the 1930’s which was built from a single Red Beech tree. It was quite dark inside due to its small windows but was so atmospheric.
Julianne was not as keen as there were rats and mice around, but not that I noticed – and during the night a possum kept climbing up and falling off the hut making quite a racket.