Saturday, 6 June 2009

Tararua Forest Park: Kime by Moonlight

From Kime by Moonlight

With the full moon visible in the clear blue afternoon sky, snow on the top of the Tararuas I left work early. Could I finally get over the Southern Crossing under the moon? For so long I had waited for the full moon, clear skies and snow all at once. I had to make the most of the opportunity.

I packed my things together and headed for Otaki Forks. As I departed over the new Waiotauru footbridge I was on my way. I almost felt disorientated as I walked along the track "improvements" and past the digger used in their construction. I had been over this track tens of times before but, it now seems as wide than the Otaki Gorge Road that leads here.

There were no concerns about freezing on this windless evening, and wearing a layer too many of polypro I was soon sweating my way up to Field Hut. The carnage and tree falls from the previous time I was here has been cleared from the track, but the remaining patches of thin tree canopy from that storm were notable.

After a short break at Field Hut the ascent continued. I was soon on Table Top under the full moon and mostly clear sky. I was still hopeful of finding some snow as up to this point it has been noticeably absent. Approaching Dennan, I was finally into the snowline at about 1200m. I was having a great time in the snow under the moon. It was awesome. In the excitement and heavy snow I managed to via away from the established track, with, like my politics a slight left-hand bias. After a brief right-hand correction I was back on the established track and found the ice covered waratah posts marking the route.

While approaching Bridge Peak, the clag was thickening and by the time I reached Kime Hut, the moon was barely penetrating through the clag. I stopped at Kime Hut for a brew, optimistically hoping the clag would clear, before ascending Mt Hector.

With the tap frozen I was boiling snow, which was relatively rapid as I was only cooking for one. In larger groups I have found this much more time consuming in the past. After drinking my tea, the clag was even thicker so it was to be here that I would hunker down for the night.

Wellington trampers often refer to Kime Hut affectionately as "The Fridge". Many claim it is warmer outside the hut than inside it.

Arriving here in the middle of the night, surrounded by snow and with myself as sole occupant it seemed a good time to test this theory. Keeping my Casio Protrek watch away from my own body heat so as to accurately use its thermometer function. It is not warm inside Kime Hut, however, it is about one degree warmer than outside.

Outside 2:30am: -0.8 C
Inside 2:40am: 0.4 C
Outside: 9:30am: 0.8 C
Inside: 9:40am: 1.6 C

When departing on Saturday morning, there was virtually no visibility so I was sure to take a compass bearing before heading back down to Otaki Forks. In fact, it was darker than much of the time I had traveled under the moon the night before.

While I did not get across the whole Southern Crossing as I intended, I sure had a great time in the snowy winter wonderland. Try again, during the full moon next month?
Date:5-6 June 2009
Intended Route:Southern Crossing via Field Track; Southern Crossing; Marchant Ridge
Actual Route:Otaki Forks to Kime Hut via Field Track & part of Southern Crossing
Time taken:22km/8:59
Otaki Forks to Field Hut5.9km/2:18
Field Hut to Kime Hut I was sloooow5.2km/2:52
Kime Hut to Field Hut5km/1:57
Field Hut to Otaki Forks5.9km/1:51
Total ascent:2,470m
Total descent:2,384m
Maximum altitude:1,444m

You can find more detail at Garmin Connect.


  1. I don't think I've ever heard Kime referred to as "The Fridge". I've frequently heard it referred to as "The Freezer".

  2. Thanks Mike. AFAIK, traditionally it has been known as "The Fridge". More recently, post-modern trampers have begun calling it "The Freezer". This seems to be an exaggeration - since it never actually got below freezing while I was inside the hut last weekend :).

  3. Does this mean I can start telling everyone I'm a post-modern Tararua Tramper? That'd be as cool as wearing fluorescent non-matching striped and dotted poly-pro long johns!

    From what I hear, if it never got below freezing then you probably left the window open overnight.

    It'll be a sad day when it's replaced in 2011.

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