Unlikely group discover a beautiful North Island hike

Posted by Hilary Sheaff on 30 May 2011 | Comments

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Our senior guide Hilary hosted her last book club meeting at somewhere just a little different to where the monthly meetings are normally held. The group of 8 trekked in to the Central Whirinaki Hut in the North Island of New Zealand for an overnight meeting with a difference!

Our group, all female, and living in Whakatane had a range of experience in the outdoors, so it was with some nervousness and trepidation that we set off from Whakatane on a Saturday morning late April. Nerves had also been heightened due to the fact that it had been raining heavily for about 2 weeks in Whakatane leading up to the trek. However the day dawned a crisp clear Autumn morning, and in fact the whole weekend was simply beautiful. After a windy drive the hike began, on a stunning little track that started at about 1000 metres above sea level. The native forest was really impressive. Whirinaki is known to be one of the best podocarp forests in the world, and soon the girls got into the rhythm of strolling, chatting and stopping to enjoy the views and variety of treats that emerged from backpacks. An easy 3 hour walk, mostly downhill, to the Central Whirinaki Hut, where the girls were pleasantly surprised by the facilities (I later learned that some were expecting the hut to resemble a dog kennel, so I could understand some of the wary looks that my trekking proposal initially received!). The Central Whirinaki Hut is a lovely 20 bunker hut with a large dining area and log burner, tucked into a little clearing of beech trees alongside the Whirinaki River. And our book club had the hut to ourselves!

The evening progressed like a standard book club meeting: lots of great food, wine and discussions – sometimes even about literature. Actually that also sounds a lot like a standard evening on any of the Walking Legends’ guided walk trips!

Sunday’s walk was slightly longer, about 5 hours, and followed alongside the Whirinaki River for much of this time. Several pairs of whio (native endangered blue duck) were spotted from the track, and again the forest was diverse and lush. From the towering podocarps right down to the tiny ferns and mosses, every available space was covered in green life.

I don’t make it out of the office much these days, so really appreciated this weekend away in one of the most beautiful corners of the world. It was great to be reminded of the awe-inspiring beauty of the Whirinaki Forest, and how lucky we are to be sharing these special North Island hiking places with the visitors we host on our New Zealand guided walks. Time to start planning next year’s book club trek! Cheers, Hilary.

For more info on the guided walks we do in Whirinaki Forest click here: Waikaremoana Discovery Tour