Waitōtara Conservation Area, Whanganui – 8-15 March 2022
The second-largest extent of native forest in the North Island empasses a huge area in the backcountry between Whanganui and Taranaki. The Whanganui National Park protects a significant part of these forests, through which the well-known Matemateāonga Track crosses.
Less well-known and visited are the forests of the Waitōtara Conservation Area, which has a network of tracks that connect with the Matemateāonga Track. These tracks have received little attention in recent years, and become overgrown and difficult to follow. That changed in March, when a group of volunteers, mainly from Auckland, got stuck in to open up a significant section of the tracks north of Tahupo and Puteore Huts. Most of the group had previous experience working on tracks in the Kaimai Range.
The six-strong group split in two. At Tahupo Hut were Tony Walton, Geoff Mead and Luitgard Schwendemann, while staying at Puteore Hut were John Parsons, Catherine Doyle and Jane Marjoribanks.
Lake Sumner Forest Park, Canterbury – March 2022
Lake Sumner Forest Park straddles the Lewis Pass highway, which provides access to the area’s many pleasant valleys. One of these is the Doubtful Valley, which boasts a track and two huts: one predictably called Doubtful Hut, and the other more whimsically known as Doubtless Hut. The latter hut lies near the headwaters, and recently had a welcome makeover from a volunteer team.