From summit to sea
Climbing to the summit of Mt Ruapehu only to follow the water stream back down seems like a crazy idea - but it’s one idea a group of men are bringing to reality.
The idea of following the Waikato River from ‘summit to sea’ is the brainchild of Trent Hicks, 27, of Pukekohe.
Having a good understanding of Port Waikato, Hicks wanted to track the water back to the source and see what the quality of the water was like.
Hicks recruited four others, friends Mat Piaggi, Dan Kelly, Benn Hanns and Nick Blazey to join the ’Downstream’ project - a collective mission ‘‘to know the land, to meet and learn from its people, to experience, document and share all we find along the way’’.
Water quality has consistently been identified as the top issue for the people of the Waikato region for the past two decades.
Last year, the Healthy Rivers/ Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 was introduced and it is the bold response to addressing the complex issue of water quality facing the Waipa and Waikato rivers.
The from Summit to Sea adventure is a way for the five men to help raise awareness over water quality.
‘‘Water quality is a big issue in New Zealand at the moment,’’ Piaggi said.
‘‘This region has a huge historic context and in a way fresh water quality sparked it.’’
Their adventure started two weeks ago when they walked up Mt Ruapehu to the Mangatoetoe Glacier.
While they will be travelling by foot for some of their journey, most of it will be in a kayak.
From there, they followed its water down, heading east to where it met the Tongariro River.
Continuing on foot, they followed the river north to its entry point near Turangi, at Lake Taupo.
‘‘It’s been great so far. We’ve been cutting our own path as it’s not something that’s clear cut,’’ Kelly said.
Throughout their journey, they’ve been stopping and chatting with the locals, getting their thoughts on the water quality.
‘‘We aren’t really trying to do anything in particular with this trip but we have been meeting and interviewing some of the characters along the way,’’ Kelly said.
‘‘We are wanting to share that and experience that.’’
They don’t expect to finish their trip for another week and half and now they are making their way to the end goal of reaching Port Waikato.
Follow their progress on downstreamproject.com
Pukekohe’s Trent Hicks leads the group over the Tongariro Crossing.
The Downstream team Benn Hannes, Mat Piaggi, Dan Kelly, Nick Blazey and Trent Hicks.