Ruahine Forest Park is a fickle mistress — teasing and tantalising, rewarding and punishing but, despite everything it's a great place to tramp.
And a party of four from the Wanganui Tramping Club, Cherry Channon, Val Wackrow, Mark Sutherland and Dave Scoullar, endorse that view.
Day one began with a leisurely stroll — three-and-a-half hous walking — up the Oroua River past Alice Nash Heritage Memorial Lodge to Iron Gate hut sitting prettily by the river.
The weather was overcast and the track, meandering up and down, was mostly in good shape. We were impressed by the number of bait stations and we were to see a lot more over the four-day trek.
The morning of the second day saw us climbing steadily upwards on to the Ngamoko Range in pleasant conditions. We sat on the tops for lunch, enjoying the views over Hawke's Bay and pondering our options — drop down to Top Gorge hut on the Pohangina River or on to Longview hut?
Getting out from Top Gorge the next day could have been problematic so we opted for Longview which we reached after five hours. A number of hunters came by but decided to fly camp elsewhere.
It was very windy overnight and the wind was still with us, but the track to Leon Kinvig hut was mostly protected by leatherwood.
We figured where our climb-out point from Top Gorge hut would be and were glad we didn't have to take the informal route through the leatherwood.
The day ended with the steep drop to the hut by the Pohangina River — a five-hour stint. Later there was a big thunderstorm and downpour, while a pair of whio were sighted just below the hut which we had to ourselves.
The fourth day started early with the climb to Toka trig at 1526 metres on Ngamoko Range. After a rough night, it was misty but not unpleasant for the upward plod until, within a few hundred metres of the trig, we were hit by furious westerly winds which blew us around like rag dolls.
We helped each other and quickly decided not to try to go north to Tunupo trig, instead following the poled route down Knights track to calmer conditions.
Limestone Road was reached in five-and-a-half hours walking, and there we met some trampers who took us to Petersons Road where our van was waiting — a kind gesture which saved us walking some six kiolometres of road. A happy ending to an enjoyable four days in the Ruahine.