There's one in every family — a cousin with a plan.

The one in my family comes up with plans every now and then. Most of the time I manage to be "far too busy".

However, on New Year's Eve afternoon family gathered to celebrate a 90th birthday. The day was hot, so we all settled in shady spots, with cool drinks and talked and laughed.

Suddenly said cousin whom I shall call Cousin One came out with "a plan".

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"What do ya reckon we all get a bit of fresh air and exercise and hike on up to Sunrise Hut. It's easy as. 90 minutes up then a cruise down — probably about 30 minutes. We can all pack some breakfast and when we get to the top enjoy the views have a bite to eat then head back to the car. From there we can go for a swim and some lunch. It will be an adventure."

I had walked to Sunrise Hut before — about 20 years ago. I had a vague memory of pain.

Several of us looked wearily at each other and said "sounds good when?" All hoping that the date wouldn't suit.

"Oh you guys name a date."

Oh oh. Now I was in trouble. I said well I could only go on this day or that. Cousin Two said I can make it on that date, as did Cousin Three and Four. It looked like we had a plan. The sensible cousins said "no way".

So Cousin One made all the arrangements. "I will be at your house at this time, yours at that..."

I was up with the sparrows on the second day of the year getting ready for the "adventure" when my phone rang. It was Cousin One. She had a flat tyre. "But don't worry a nice man is fixing it for me. Problem is we will have to go and get Cousin Four's car because I can't drive all that way with a space saver. The other problem is that we can't all fit into Cousin Four's car," — not a good start.

So we made another plan. I would pick up the other cousins and meet them at the Tikokino Pub. We arrived within minutes of each other and then it was another 45 minute drive on a partly gravel "track" — I was thankful we didn't meet anyone coming in the opposite direction.

So we five arrived at the foothills of the Ruahine Ranges laughing and chattering ready for our adventure. We slung on our very light bags and off we went at a steady pace raving about the beautiful day.

After about 30 minutes we spotted a sign "Sunrise Hut two hours and 45 minutes".

Four of us gasped and looked at Cousin One. "But you said 90 minutes and we have already been walking half an hour."

"Oh it's fine, We will be there before you know it. Come on," she said. And off we went.

The climb started in earnest. It was relentless. No down, or flat just up and up and up. Cousin Three started to go red in the face. She was puffing. Then she pulled out an inhaler. Didn't know she had asthma. She insisted she was okay.

So we climbed and climbed. We all needed to stop now and then and catch our breath.

An hour and a half in and Cousin Two was struggling, but insisted she was okay. So we climbed again.

Then the wind started howling, the temperature dropped and Cousin Two was exhausted. We stopped for a chat. Cousin One informed us that we had about 45 minutes of really steep climbing to go before we reached the hut.

Cousin Two simply said "I can't make it. I'll wait here for you."

Of course that was not going to happen. No way we would leave her alone on an isolated track. So we made the decision to turn back.

Secretly everyone, except maybe Cousin One who hadn't even broken a sweat, was silently cheering and wanted to hug Cousin Two for having the guts to say stop.

More than four hours later we were back at the car and headed for lunch at the Puketapu Pub, then we sat in the Tutaekuri River under the bridge — bliss.

Although we didn't achieve our goal it was a great day and I leaned new things about my family.

Cousin One reckons i put soap on her toothbrush when we were young — I don't recall that — but I wish I had access to her toothbrush now.

Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.