My Favourite Walk: Perspiring on Pirongia
Mt Pirongia summit can be reached through many routes. Parking at the end of Grey Road, we started off with the enjoyable Mangakara Nature Walk.
Rich in a variety of native trees, it was a good introduction to New Zealand bush for our Slovenian friend. We joined onto the Link Track ascended through the fog layer that enveloped us. Joining onto the Ruapane Track, we slogged even more steeply up to the Ruapane Lookout.
The trig point here made a very lovely stop point for morning tea. Above the cloud line we felt on top of the world. During the steep ascent we had worked up quite a sweat, and it is recommended that you take more water than you think you will need.
From the lookout the route joins the Tirohanga Track, a jaunty up and down trail that requires the use of a fair many rope chains (would be very tricky without them). After joining from the Ruapane Lookout there is a lovely cliff that is perfect for bouldering and provides another nice break spot.
The Tirohanga Track takes you right up to the summit (the junction just before the summit joins with the Tahuanui Track, which is also part of the Te Araroa Trail), where there is a view tower that provides an excellent outlook over the Waikato landscape.
According to the “literature” Mt Taranaki and Ruapheu can be viewed from here, but the clouds prevented our attempts to sight them. Just a little on from the tower is the Pahautea Hut, which we decided not to visit due to time constraints.
Trampers we meet heading the other direction told us of how overfull it had been that night (and according to the log book this is a frequent event), so if you are planning to break up the trek and stay the night maybe consider bring a tent. The view tower made an excellent
lunch spot, but being drenched in sweat and covered with clouds, the wind chill forced us to scoff down our food and start our descent.
A short backtrack and you join up with the Mahaukura Track which takes you straight back down to Grey Road carpark. I would hate to think of the people that brave coming up this way as the number of rope chains needed to tumble down this track was hard going. Interspersed between the rope chains were gullies that required some bush bashing at points as the track was completely bogged out. A number of peaks on the route down provide a brief view over the area, which for us showed glimpses of potential rain clouds drawing in closer and closer, each time we made a peak.
Relief flooded over our party as we reached the end point and we gladly changed out of our sweat soaked gear into fresh clothes and clean shoes. Bagging Pirongia summit is a great way to challenge yourself and test your joints out with the constant undulating landscape. It took us 10 hours total including breaks.
Above left: A view from the Mahaukura Peak. Bottom left: View from Summit Tower looking back over the track.