A ‘child-sized’ family tramping adventure 🙂
Access: Adult time: 1.5-2 hours, with children, it took us 5.5 hours with plenty of stops and play time.
This is a nice gentle track, where it seems almost everything is child size! In general the track is even grade, well formed, and in fine weather the river crossings are barely noticeable as an adult, and very shallow. As a first overnight tramp its a fantastic option, and if needed, a fit adult could do an extra run back to the car if need be
The track initially crosses the Mararoa river via a swing bridge. Compared to the rest of the track, this is probably the most off putting part of it, as the river below is rather rapid, and the cliffs surrounding the swing bridge rather sheer for a nervous mother, but its a fully fenced swing bridge, so the nerves are just nervous mother mindtalk!!!
The track is well formed, and follows along through beech forest on the plateau above the river at an even level until turning into the Kiwiburn valley. Along the way there was some tree fall, but it was negotiable, and with a cunning word or two to the younger members of the party, it became an adventure in itself. There were a couple of small streams that needed to be crossed, but they were ankle deep at most, and very easy to ford.
Once in the Kiwiburn valley the track continues through beech forest, but breaks out into a large tussock area in the final kilometre before the hut. There is a poled route through the tussocks, and the track is well worn. Watch for the occasional Spaniards (Aciphylla horrida), which are obviously rather unpleasant for the little people to encounter.
At the start of the open, you will need to ford the Kiwi burn river. This is the most major ‘river crossing’ for this trip and might even go over the top of your boots if you don’t move fast enough!!!
The hut is at the upper end of the open area, and hidden away on the true right of the valley behind some beech trees, which makes for a good “wow, we are here!” moment if traveling with children.
Hut features: 12 bunk standard hut. Older style, with a central communal area, woodburner, table/chairs, cooking area. There are two bunkrooms – one off each side of the communal area, and 6 beds/bunks in each. These are not platform style. There is also no fire guard around the pot belly style wood burner.
At the back of the hut, and in the surrounding area there are plenty of places to pitch a tent, and probably the highlight for our children was the stream behind the hut. Again, this is child size, only a few metres across, and very shallow. Perfect for dam building and exploring, while the parents sit back with a cuppa.
On the way back out, our party split, and one group (2 x adults, 2 x children 6 + 4.5 years old) traveled back via the alternative route. This route continues up the Kiwiburn valley, and then up and over a saddle to rejoin the track at the swing bridge. This took approximately 1.5 hours longer than our party which returned via the river route.
We took our time on this trip, and spent plenty of time at the various “rivers” and treefalls where the children had a great time exploring, climbing, dam building, and finding various aquatic life including koura and fish. In the evening at the hut, they loved roaming through the tussocks at sunset.
Negatives: Not many. Lack of fire guard, spaniards.