Tramping Partner and I went on an overnight tramp recently (Auckland Anniversary Weekend 2018). We left Wellington at about 6am and reached our destination – the carpark at North Block Road in the Hawke’s Bay Area – at about 11:00. After a quick meal and a thorough double check of our packs, we headed off to the Hut.
According to the Department of Conservation Website, the walk up to Sunrise Hut takes about 1- 3 hours. We did it in … FOUR! Hahahaha! Yeah, we were slow. Well, in fairness, we both had full packs on, and we haven’t been out for about 2 years (I think the last one we did was the Tongariro, and that was in 2016!) so if you take those into consideration, our time wasn’t at all that bad.
The path leading up to Sunrise Hut was really well maintained. It had an actual track that we could follow thus, there was no need to look for the orange directional arrows (my favourite tramping game). It was a fairly steady uphill walk, with the occasional dips and plateaus. It wasn’t easy – but it wasn’t overwhelmingly hard either. I kept myself entertained by observing the plant life and reading the informative “signposts” along the way.
We knew we were almost at the summit when we noticed the plants growing shorter and shorter. From being surrounded by tall trees at the start of the walk, at about 1000 metres above sea level the plants changed to shrubs, tussock, and low lying flowers -these marked our way. After a few more steps, a bit of a walk around yet another corner …. voila! We were finally at Sunrise Hut.
Sunrise Hut was originally constructed by the NZFS in 1983. Located in an area called “Buttercup Hollow”, the hut sleeps up to 20 people. It has benchtop sinks, a wood burner, two dining tables, has tank water and 2 x fairly decent long-drop style toilets. The hut was upgraded in 2005 and has proven to be one of the more popular recreational destinations for day trips or weekend visits. I suppose it’s called Sunrise Hut because it has the most amazing views during sunrise. We thought we wouldn’t be able to witness this, since it was unbelievably cloudy on our way up (and the forecast for the next day was cloudy with a chance of rain).
Thankfully, it started to clear at about sunset. The hut warden knew we wanted to see some amazing views so he called us out to the back so we could see the mountains as the clouds gradually lifted. Managed to take a few snaps before the clouds rolled in again.
The following day, eager beaver me woke up at the crack of dawn hoping against hope for clear skies and … I was not disappointed. The clouds have finally lifted and allowed us early risers the most amazing views of the Hawke’s Bay area.
At about 6:00 am, after admiring the sunrise and a really really quick breakfast, we packed up and commenced on our trek back to the carpark. We stopped once on our way back down, mainly just to admire the stillness of the bush, have a bite to eat, plan another trip (maybe go on to Top Maropea, a 1 1/2 hour walk from Sunrise Hut) – and to take a photo of our sore feet!
Oh! Click here if you want a more detailed description of the walk. It was written by an avid tramper / hiker, so terminologies and descriptions are pretty much spot on.