Solitude | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt: solitude.

Source: Solitude | The Daily Post

This morning, I had big plans to clean up, do vacuuming and other such boring stuff…the sun streaming in, though, was too much of a temptation and I went off on another wander…this time, a little closer to home, Tupapakurua Falls just up the road in National Park Village…

There is a good, albeit slightly out of date, description of the route on the Taupo Tramping Club site, and also a good summary in the latest version of the DOC Walks in and Around Tongariro National Park (page 24). The track is pretty well-marked and does not pose any great navigational challenges so longs as normal common sense is applied, especially on the leg down to the base of the Falls.

The track starts in National Park Village. Park where you like but you need to be looking at this in Carroll Street to get underway:


Cross the railway tracks – the BUSY railway tracks so take appropriate care – and follow the road round to the left…DSCF0012 …taking the first right down Fishers Road where…DSCF9968…after a couple of kilometres, you come to the start of the trail proper. Yes, you could just drive here but it’s a nice walk along the road and you wouldn’t want to drive only to find that the freedom campers have taken up all the parking:


A short way along the track there’s a sign:


This is a great way for walkers to contribute to the maintenance and ongoing development of tracks like this one: all you have to do is pick up a couple of buckets and carry them to the next bucket depot. Don’t stress: the depots are only a few hundred metres apart and the buckets aren’t too heavy.


Grab two and start walking…

Along the sides of the trail, you’ll occasionally see traps for rats and stoats. Unless you are part of the community trapping programme, leave them alone…


The track is well-marked and very easy to follow; the gradients are all quite gentle and after twenty minutes, I got to the Taranaki Lookout:DSCF9978

…with Mt Taranaki clearly visible on the coast about 120km away…DSCF9976-001

From the Taranaki Lookout to the Tupapakurua Falls lookout is about an hour of easy walking. The track is not quite so well-defined, marked or developed and there are a few roots and other potential hazards for the carelessly-placed foot. The climbs are a little less gentle but still doable for walkers with average health and fitness: just take care where you are placing your feet. This is original New Zealand rain forest that does not get a lot of sun through the canopy – the sort of environment over which Von Tempsky pursued Tītokowaru – smooth surfaces, wood and rock, can be slick and slippery: there is no cell coverage here and even satellite access can be dodgy at the bottoms of the canyons: if you are on your own you may have a long wait for assistance if you have a whoopsy.

DSCF9984 The lookout is a nice spot for the break…DSCF9980 …with good views of the Falls in the distance.DSCF9985

The Taupo Tramping Club notes recommend pushing a few minutes south-west of the lookout to the end of the ridge for a better view of the Falls and the valley. I really recommend doing this as the views are much better. Not mentioned in the notes is the more-recently developed track down to the base of the Falls. I almost gave this a miss as my destination for the day had been the Falls lookout but it was still morning, still sunny and I had come all this way…I’m glad I did as it was the highlight of my walk!!

The track down to the base of the Falls is marked with the standard blue poles and orange arrows. It is not nearly as well-marked as the track to the lookout and walkers really need to be able to see the next marker before stepping off: there are many animal and hunting trails here as well and it is so very easy to follow what you think is the trail and find yourself geographically-embarrassed with no clue as to how to get back onto the actual trail…

Having said that, I found myself at the base of the Falls after a descent of around 15-20 minutes. Wow!! I need a better camera with a decent wide-angle lens to capture scenery like this…

The sun only gets into the valley later in the afternoon and it was not at all warm down in the base of canyon, plus the Falls throw up a fine mist that further drops the temperature: definitely NOT the spot for lunch..(or a swim!!)! But very much worth the extra walk and really made my impulsive activity worth the undone housework…

The climb back up to the lookout was not as arduous as I thought it might be on the way down BUT you do have to take care that you are actually on the trail as I found a couple of times

I still wasn’t that hungry when I got back up to the Falls lookout so pushed on back to the Taranaki lookout. I still wasn’t that hungry but felt I should eat something since I had carried it all this way: lunch was my standard walking lunch of a bannofee smoothie – tastes a lot more bananary with fresh bananas – and a couple of Jen Rice’s chewy spicy apple cookies – I always carry more but, as advertised, two is enough for a quick meal on the go.

From the lookout back to Fisher’s Road was only about ten minutes. Walking back down the road, I was welcomed back by a spectacular view of Mt Ruapehu through the trees…


My total time for this walk was just under four hours: obviously I could trim this down quite a bit if I wanted but what would be the point. This is the first walk that I have done in this series where it was just me and the outdoors – solitude – and it was there to enjoy. The last two adventures that I have done, on Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, have been in open terrain and I was surprised just how comfortable I felt today returning to the close country of my roots…oddly, although was was the least strenuous of my three adventures to date, it is the only one that has left me with quite sore shoulders…really wish that I had that spa pump repaired now…

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