Part 1 – Waingongoro Hut, Taranaki

A fevered child, in a hut, on a mountain ….

It was school holiday time and we were at my sisters place in South Taranaki.  We had the time, we had the crew and on the doorstep we had the stunning Maunga (Mt Taranaki)! My son, who had been so looking forward to staying in a hut, was sick and had to stay back with Dad. My daughter seemed well enough and was super keen, especially since her cousin and a new friend were also doing it. It was only an hour and a half walk to the hut, 45 minutes uphill and 45 minutes downhill, what could possibly go wrong?

Approximately 20-30 minutes in there is a small river crossing (you can bypass this by going up to Wilkie’s Pools, crossing the river using the bridge) but if there hasn’t been any rain and the river flow is not high (which was the case on this particular day), then crossing using the big boulders was a fun challenge for the kids.

The girls lead the way, taking turns at being the leader and pointing out any obstacles coming up on the track, a log, a large step or a muddy puddle.

Before we knew it we were at the Waingongoro river swing bridge. My niece was the first one to cross the bridge (only one person allowed on the bridge at a time) and yelled out midway “wow this is so high”! Everyone else went across, leaving me to be the lucky last ….. and oh man it was “so high”, I actually felt physically sick looking down, and my hands were like vice grips on the ropes of the not-so-wide swing bridge. P.s. the swing bridge is the highest in Egmont National Park at 24m high! Some advice to those who don’t like heights: walk slowly, try to stand in the middle of the bridge for a while to get used to it, breathe, relax and take in the beautiful view of the mountain, it is worth doing.

The hut was great, it had a fire place, two large bunk rooms, a large kitchen/dining space and on a clear day the deck outside has great views of Taranaki’s Peak and Ruapehu in the distance in the other direction.

Note: The section of the track from the swing bridge to the hut (about 5 minutes) has a very steep drop off to the valley below. Also at the hut, just past the tree line, is another very steep drop into the river valley below.  Please do be aware of this so you can talk to your kids about out-of-bound areas and safety.

Stay tuned for Part two when things take a turn for the worst!  Coming tomorrow …..

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