Sunrise Hut: our first climb in the Ruahine Ranges

What do you do when you find yourself with a sudden free weekend before the new school term starts? Climb a mountain of course! Sunrise Hut is a DoC (Department of Conservation) hut within the Ruahine mountain range in East New Zealand. We can see them from our house, with the tops all sparkling in snow over the winter. So when we found ourselves free for a weekend, this was top of the list! I was probably over cautious because I didn’t know the route at all, had no idea of the terrain and was very conscious of the short day light hours and snow on the mountains.

So we packed big thick sleeping bags (-1 as 'normal'), lots of thermals and of course Spotty Otter down jackets. No room for possible hypothermia with us!Of course, it was glorious weather and within a few minutes we were down to t-shirts and sweating profusely under the weight of the packs.

Onwards and upwards we stomped, with the route being completely fool proof and well marked. It was about 3 hours of continuous switch back walking up, up and a little more up and the views were amazing!

As we climbed, the trees started to get shorter and stumpier and just as Eomer was beginning to gasp and trudge, what did we sight? Snow!Which of course changed everything! Suddenly energy levels exploded again and each new snow patch was another chance to make a snow ball and attack! The hut itself was incredible, views right out to the east coast and behind dropping off into the rest of the forested ranges. And snow everywhere!

The wood burner in the hut was so well stocked and we were roasting all night, throwing off thermals and sleeping bags as we slept. So much for best be prepared! Ice breaker merino thermals were amazing though and kept us snug as bug in a rug, not too hot, not too cold.

Next morning saw our creaky bones lug on the packs once more and head off down the track waving cheerily to the odd intrepid explorer off up the trails for their own adventures. I wonder which trail we'll take next. Which hut shall we explore next time.

Written by Ruth Lively-Masters on Friday, 09 September 2016.

Posted in Mountain High


(2) Kerry Teague 12 September 2016 at 19 51 | # I am SO jealous! Love the photos. Well done, Ramona and Eomer for lugging those big packs. I wish we had more huts in Northern Ireland. Overnight hikes here tend to require tents and we're just not quite ready to carry all that gear. Mind you, maybe we should just bivvy? you've got me thinking! Can't wait to see your next Kiwi adventure.

Ruth Lively-Masters 22 September 2016 at 08 11 | # Thanks Kerry - The kids did really well with the big bags! And it was the first time that I'd carried a pack for probably 10 years so I certainly felt it too! There are quite a few huts in the mountains although I am guessing they will get well used in the summer as even in the winter this one was really popular. Still, it's lovely to be able to walk and stay overnight without the extra weight of a tent too - especially if it rains! 

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