Sometimes the hardest part of tramping is deciding where to go. Like everywhere else in New Zealand, we're blessed with oodles of tramping options In the Bay of Plenty. And like everywhere else in New Zealand all the roads are windy. (As in there are lots of turns and hills, not lots of air moving quickly). This means that it takes longer to drive than you might estimate based on distance alone. It also means that anyone susceptible to motion sickness is likely to succumb. So with our wild mama tramping weekends, we try to keep the driving distances as short as possible to minimise the driving time/maximise the tramping time and keep the puking at bay, hopefully.
Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park is an often overlooked spot, just a couple of hours' drive away on mostly straight-ish roads. Not only does it meet the transport requirements, it's also a stunning drippy moss bush home to the endangered Whio Blue Ducks. The Whirinaki Recreation camp is a great destination for families or larger groups of friends.
One tramping weekend away, we decided on the beginner-friendly tramp to Central Whirinaki Hut from the River Road carpark. All the promises of this walk were fulfilled: supersaturated forests oozing in green, mushrooms aplenty, whio in the river, waterfalls, and lots of tasty treats.
Vern's camp is a perfect spot to stop for lunch. There is a shelter, toilet, and it's at almost exactly the 8km halfway mark.
Central Whirinaki is a large, cozy hut... if there is dry wood for the fire. Be a kind tramper and be sure to leave wood drying out for the next group to arrive. You can't book the hut in advance, but with 25 beds there should be room to squeeze in any extras that turn up.
Top tips for this walk:
- Arrange for a shuttle from Minginui so your car is kept secure while you're walking
- If you're arriving late, arrange to stay at a BnB the night before your walk
- Bring your axe and saw skills so you can leave drying wood for the next group
Time: 5 hours