Duke of Edinburgh Silver and Gold Group Adventures

By Robyn Bruce

On Thursday 27th February thirteen DoE Gold level students travelled to the Whakapapa Visitor Centre to check out the Tongariro Northern Circuit track conditions and the weather.

We tramped to the Taranaki Falls , where some people abseiling provided entertainment while lunches were eaten.The track to the Mangatepopo Campsite was hot and dusty. Three hours passed quickly and the group was soon meeting the DOC Ranger, putting up their tents for the night and cooking the first of their three communal dinners. (There was even time for hut window cleaning entertainment from Cody and Zane.) A beautiful sunset and a clear view of Mt Taranaki capped off a long day of travel and tramping.

Friday saw everyone up at 6.30am, breakfast eaten, tents dismantled and by 8am the group was heading to the Devil's staircase, South Crater and a steep climb up Red Crater to 1868m, the highest point of the tramp. The 360 degree views were stunning. Everyone enjoyed the scree slope down past a sulphur fumerol to the Emerald Lake for lunch. We then dropped down into the Oturere Valley and made our way to the hut. We claimed our bunks and headed for a much needed cool down in the pools at the top of a waterfall. At 8.30pm we had the hut occupants all outside looking at star constellations and hunting for satellites. Cody had all the times for sightings on his bit of paper and we weren't disappointed.

Saturday saw us leave at 8am for the Waihohonu Hut, known as 'the Palace', due to its size. We had lunch and then completed a scavenger hunt the shadow party set for us, leaving them a good hour to play a game of five crowns.  The Ohinepango Stream challenge was then taken with some hardy group members lasting an amazing five minutes in the icy cold water.

Sunday saw us up at 5am for our hike out. We left at 6am in the dark with our headlamps on. This provided us with a new skill set of night tramping. Once the track was completed we headed for Spa Thermal Park in Taupo for a welcome soak in the hot stream pools and a cool down in the Waikato River.

After such a great four days,we head to complete our DOE gold qualifier on the 82km ,Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park in the April holidays.

A HUGE thank you to our shadow party of Ken Hames, Dirk Smyth and Robyn Bruce who without their involvement we could not complete our outdoor requirements.

On Friday 21st February, seven silver level DOE students completed their pre-expedition to the Pinnacles/Crosbies Huts in the Coromandel Forest Park.

As water was short, we had to carry extra with us which added weight to our packs.  We checked out the tracks,weather etc at the Kauaeranga Visitor Centre and then headed to the Billy Goat track. We had to cross the almost dry Kauaeranga River bed and simulated a river crossing under Alana's instructions.

The track was dry, dusty and very hot. We arrived at the Pinnacles Hut and were met by ranger Rob. He allocated us a bunk room and we headed off to climb the Pinnacles just before  sunset.The views were amazing and the rock climbing was fun and challenging!

Ranger Rob showed us a slide show of the kauri logging and history of the area which was very interesting. Communal dinners were cooked and much needed sleep was had.

On Saturday we cleaned the bunk room and kitchen and tramped down the Webb Creek Track to the van. Here we did a van relocation to Te Puru and headed up to Crosbies' Hut. The climb up to the hut was the steepest we had done to date. We also encountered heavy rain, but we were rewarded later with clear views to Coromandel township and table mountain.

On Sunday we were up at 5.30am and tramped with our headlamps on...a whole new skill set! We had a welcome swim in a deep waterhole on a river and then headed for home.We stopped for a feed of fish and chips on the way. Thanks heaps, Ken.

A HUGE thanks to Ken Hames, Sharlene Tornquist and Robyn Bruce for being our shadow party. We had an amazing tramp and are now looking forward to our qualifier on Mt Taranaki at the end of March.