The count down was on for our second try at the famed dragons teeth route in Kahurangi-national-park, the covid out break was starting to sweep the country.
The forecast was looking good for 3 days but it was going to rain 40mm on Saturday afternoon. We should be past the high route by the time.
After toiling with it for a couple of days we decided to go for a plan B.
Marta suggested a Kaimanawa Kaweka traverse pack rafting down the Mohaka. Within 24 hours we had transport and our permit sorted. Thanks to the generosity of AJ I was able to borrow a raft for the trip.
The plan was to start at Kiko Road and tramp to Cascade Hut, then across to Oamaru Hut via the Kaipro saddle and stream. From Oamaru we could access the top of the Mohaka and raft down to McVicar Rd.
We set off on a beautiful hot afternoon fully loaded with our pack rafting gear, I hadn’t carried a load like this since a 5 day family tramp in Nelson Lakes. The raft is fine but the paddle, helmet and life jacket all adds up.
We plodded along the ridge and down to Cascade Hut, it was lovely to be out in the hills. There was a good group of people at the hut, mainly hunters who were very friendly. It was a perfect night, I slept out under the stars protected by the canopy of the beach forest.
The next day we explored Kaipo saddle and stream, this route is apparently being discontinued and sections were pretty rough. Further down the river it starts to open out and we saw a few camping spots used by hunters and fisherman.
After getting to Oamaru early we decided to push on and get started on the river. Unfortunately we had a leaking value on Marta and Paul’s raft that required some of Paul’s engineering skills. We stashed the rafts and headed back to the hut.
Second time lucky, we set off in our rafts down the beautiful Mohaka. The river was so much fun. The rapids were lively enough to pump the adrenaline but not scary 😬. There are so many sets of rapids, it was like being at the water park with a fast pass to the best ride. In between the rapids we saw heaps of Blue ducks and enjoyed the hot pools.
We arrived at Te Puia lodge nice and early and got to enjoy an afternoon nap before a short trip upto Makino Hut and one of the most beautiful bits of forest I have seen.
The last day we cruised down the river enjoying more rapids and the relaxing pace of river travel. We dried ourselves and gear in the sun before Kevin arrived with the car.
What a great journey, cheers to Marta, Paul and to Kevin for helping with transport.
Here is some information on the packrafting section https://www.packraftingtrips.nz/upper-mohaka-river-ii-from-poronui-stn-to-sh5/