Saturday, January 1, 2011


29 December 2010 Top Maropea
After an almost two week wait for the weather to come right, my son Taylor decided he had better things to do with his girlfriend and mates. At 17 can't say I blame him. So I took off myself when the forecast looked promising. And at least today it was as I sit here now at Top Maropea. I must write that I do miss the company of my matamua tama (eldest child). Taylor was with me a little over a year ago when this was as far as I could get on a trip planning to go far deeper but stopped as my hip hurt too much. So it would have been cool to share the smile on my face today with him.
And I was starting to feel a bit nervous and anxious about why I just did not go anyway with Taylor, and bugger the forecast. I have done it before. I realized today on my own that is my choice but to put my tamariki (children) in harms way would simply be irresponsible. The mountains always clear my foggy head and bring clarity.
It is always a pleasure to cross Armstrong saddle on a relatively wind free day, particularly now when the high alpine tussock and plants are in flower, and the mountain world is lit up with the shimmering brilliance of the small and short lived mountain flowers as the more muted golden browns and greens burst into life. Wind free days are rare here. It is the weather itself which keeps this place wild and relatively unintruded upon. So days like today are to be enjoyed, and I met a man at Sunrise who had never been to the Ruahine so I walked with him out to the saddle and showed him the lie of land, and then carried on here.
This is my 28th night spent here. I have arrived here with some wonderful people. Tony, Nigel, John Nash, Taylor, Rick, Steve, Gustav, Adam, Tara, Jeff, John Streat, Scott, and Ethan.Some only once, some many times. All I toast now.
I love it here. Truly my most special place in the Ruahine - of many such special and unique places for me, each holding it's own charms, beauty, and nuance in my soul.
Yet this was my first. The first time looking out at the Maropea valley and the ranges beyond over 13 years ago, I was moved by the wildness and beauty. I now know those places well, have traveled to and from here in every direction. I am still moved by this view as if it were my first visit and I am laying my eyes upon all this for the first time.
I am now completely shrouded in by cloud and mist. The newly painted bright orange hut less than 10 metres away from me is enveloped in mist and glowing. I am truly Cloud Hidden. I am Home.

Looking over Camel Back spur and the Maropea valley beyond.

Armstrong saddle and headwaters of the creek leading to the Maropea river far below.

Dropping into the forest above Top Maropea. These colours just jumped out at me.

Top Maropea hut overlooking the Maropea valley.

After a tea of garlic infused sirloin steak, with mushrooms and broccoli steamed in tarragon what a great way to end the day.

30 December, 2010 5:30 am
I am wide awake enjoying a cup of strong coffee. The day looks to be brilliant, very little wind and blue sky as far as I can see within my westerly confined view. I am putting a few items in my pack and heading back up the spur to climb Te Atuaoparapara (which is the far left peak above pictured from just where one emerges from the forest above Top Maropea). I have always wanted to do it, but have always been either coming or going, and so while I have looked upon from afar many many times I have never been introduced properly.

Looking down Maropea valley just approaching Te Atuaoparapara. A view I love from a new perspective.

Getting closer. The route takes a very steep desent down before starting to climb onto the flanks. Just as I got here, the cloud started swirling in from the north east.

Like another world amongst the shattered and battered greywacke.

Not a good place to fall.

The connecting spur between Camel Back ridge and the mountain.

Just getting onto the flanks, the top in view. About 20 minutes past here the cloud completely rolled over the mountain and just sat there. Being rather narrow and steep and thick with tupare I decided the top of Te Atuaoparapara could be left for another day. At least we met one another properly.

The cloud rolls in and the choice is made to retreat. Much easier to decide on my own.

Getting back to the hut at lunchtime I decided I had plenty of time to also drop down to the Maropea river, as on such a beautiful day conditions for a river walk were perfect. All I needed were my camera and poles. Above is just below the hut entering the cool forest, which after being in the high mountain blazing sun all morning was fantastic.

Heading down to the creek.

A good look at the steepness and ruggedness of this Ruahine country. This is dropping down to the creek and then river, on a final decent of near vertical proportions.

A favourite side creek about to meet the main river. The river was very low, I walked up the river proper for over an hour and hardly got my boots wet! Never experienced in my 20 plus trips here.

Still, the amazing clarity and brilliance of the beech leaves and pebbles flashing beneath the glass like surface makes my heart sing.

Normally this is a fairly sizeable pool. Today I just hopped along the very warm and true hard gripping river stones and only got wet feet when I wanted a drink from such a lovely pool and have a splash.

How cool to watch such a river in such a mellow moment, her song still loud, clear, and resonant. I have also seen this river very angry, dirty and roaring. So these moments are to be savoured.

As I continued down river I saw approaching two hunters. Strapped on the pack of one was a rather large stag head. The largest I have seen in the ranges. I thought my solitude and tranquility at the hut might be ended. But it is summer, and I am not the only one in these mountains. As I approached them, one of the hunters was looking at me and said "You're Robb Kloss - I read your blog, and I met you years back at Parks Peak." Indeed it was 2005 and I was with an American mate and we spent two nights with a then very young David (above) and his mate Mike, who were fly fishing for trout. A very enjoyable experience. David has since found my blog and has continued roaming the Ruahine as well. An excellent chap, as was his mate Tyson. They had spent 5 days crossing the Ruahine, fishing and hunting, and had shot this huge 10 point Red Stag, and were carrying out the huge head and rack and a large amount of meat.

Tyson and David, about to head up a now windy saddle and out to the car park - a major hike with these loads at night. Two young men finding out what carrying out a load of meat from such country is all about. They were pretty knackered already and had another major walk to where David's wife was picking them up at midnight. I talked to him today and they made it, very glad to get to the car. And the head has impressed many in the know - Ruahine racks generally do not get that sort of spread. Well done David and Tyson, on your first crossing of the Ruahine, enjoying its offerings, and appreciating what a special place it is. Well done!

30 December 2010 Evening
I have enjoyed one of my finest days ever in the Ruahine, and I enjoy them all. I climbed a mountain, I slaked my thirst and was embraced by the mountain river. I walked quietly in the coolness of the high forest. I met an old Ruahine friend and made a new one. I am no child, but today I found one still lurking inside me. It was good to hug him.
* I am off in a days time for another 4 days in the Ruahine with my old tramping mate John Nash and fellow Ruahine traveler Pohangina Pete. Looking forward to it. A Nature Filled and Peaceful New Year to all!


LG said...

Reading your blog is like being there with you. Sorry your son couldn't hang it out with you,. All the best for 2011


Bob McKerrow said...

I enjoyed travelling with you Robb. The Ruahines and Tararua's never change; the have a compelling beauty and ruggedness.

The photos were well composed and a joy to see.

Happy New Year.


Marty Mars said...

Thank you Robb for sharing your experiences and insights via your blog - I feel very inspired after reading them. Arohanui to you and your whanau and kia kaha for the year ahead my friend.

Dave said...

Sounds like an awesome trek, Robb. And cool to run into some blog readers out in the mountains like that! All the best to you in the New Year.

Mary said...

Robb, so beautiful and inspiring. True enough, we parents make lots of decisions based on our children's safety. I love how the sweet home of the mountains made that clear to you. They do the same for me. All is much clearer and brighter up in those heavenly spots.

Much love to you, and here's to a Happy and Joyful New Year,


sarah said...

greetings Robb!

i had hoped to bump into you during my solo travels over the ruahines on christmas day and beyond, i could hear your words and see your lovingly captured photos as i walked in your footsteps out to maropea forks and back. i took your printed advice from last year along and chose the maropea forks option as the weather was going to hold for a few days and the rivers were down. was hoping to make it to colenso on day 2 but would have been stuck crossing back over the tops in gale force winds (there was also a severe weather warning posted for that day - tues 28th) so instead turned around and followed the river back up, dove bombed into the waterfall pool at the head of the river and tested my new ultralight tramping tent camping outside top maropea hut as its beds were full on sunday 26th then spent a night at sunrise hut before heading out. i too had hoped to traverse te atuaoparapara but the winds were too high on the day i returned. in all, it was a wonderful way to get acquainted with the ruahines and thanks to you for all of your advice.

regards and happy new year!


Lynda Lehmann said...

I'm sorry you were disappointed, Robb, but I understand, as you do, where Taylor was coming from.

Your photos of the wild, rugged terrain are very telling, and they give me that thrill that I find in settings of undisturbed nature more than in settings and things man-made.

I know what you mean about the changes in a river's personality. One day rushing with a vengeance, dirty and seething and sweeping up all in its path; and another day meandering like a tamed beast barely quivering in the sun, yet still exciting and inviting us to partake of all things sensuous and wonderful.

Happy New Year to you and your family, Robb, and thanks for sharing your trek!

KB said...

A lyrical description of your time in the Ruahine. Isn't it amazing how we can return to the same places but find very different things each time?

I loved the photos as you climbed Te Atuaoparapara. As the clouds rolled in, the world looked ominous. I'd have made the same choice and saved the peak for another day. I must say, however, the fact that climbing that peak was possible for you spoke volumes about how strong you've become since your surgery!

The peaceful river was the perfect alternative. I believe that I have read your accounts of this river raging and dangerous in the past. In the photos today, it looked like a bubbling brook. The mountains are ever changing.

Enjoy your next trip with your friends in a few days. As you are in the height of summer, we are in the deep freeze of winter. Both are to be treasured.

Kia Kaha, KB.

Donald said...

Dear Robb

Thanks for the wonderful journey. Like the other commentators I felt like I was on the trip too, and they sure show off the rugged and diverse nature of the terrain.

The trees and scrubs leaning one way in stunted poses are testament to your decision to honour the weather!

And I can only imagine at the contrast in your mind to your trip there pre your new hip!

Some great photos in the batch too. The crekk one featuring a large boulder bottom left has drama, good light and is bold. I also like the several down from the one titled: 'looking down Maropea valley just approaching Te Atuaoparapara. A view I love from a new perspective'.

All the best for 2011 to you and yours too



games said...

Amazing photos, and an awesome blog. But yet again im bias as the young man you meet david is m husband. Oh the look in his eyes when he was recalling his adventures with tyson, and then for him to have meet you up there truly coincidence. AS the week before they had left for their tramp we had been reading your blogs. We hope to stop in for a coffee with you one of these days.
happy new year!!!!

lph said...


A fun adventure you took us usual. My favorite part is that after returning to civilization to restock the supplies, you simply turn around and go back for another adventure!

Way to live right young man!

I hope you are enjoying the New Year. Best wishes to you and your family.

Take care,

Pam said...

Great adventure and photos Robb - you look so happy and content. Looking forward to hearing about the next trek.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora LG,
Still a chance next week I might get out with the boys - if the ankle I sprained in the mountains a few days ago comes right. All the best for your year ahead as well.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
You were in my thoughts often over the past days in the Ruahine spent there with Pohangina Pete and my mate John. The mountains put such a proper perspective on things, at least for me. We toasted you with a fine wee dram - Glen Morangie.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marty,
Kia ora e hoa. I just returned from another 4 days in the mountains with a few fine friends. best to you for a peaceful New Year as well. Your place has become one of my favourites. A place that makes me assess and think. One of the real good things about this virtual world. Kia kaha Marty!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Dave,
Indeed, that really made me smile, as did the past few days in the company of Pete, another fellow blogger. It is interesting when the virtual world meets the real one. And in my experience makes the whole thing hold very true, very real. Peaceful New Year to you as well.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Mary,
I walked down a beautiful but rugged mountain river just a few days ago. At one point I took a bad fall and sprained my ankle which eventually proved to be a big problem as I was still a long way from civilization. All I could think about was almost 10 years ago taking Taylor down that same river when he was Charlie's age, and how rough and hard it was. When I got home yesterday and saw him finally I just hugged him and told him I loved him, that he knew the Makaroro. I think he understood, he hugged me back.
Mary, my Wild Sister, my talented friend, all the best to you and your beautiful family as well for a peaceful and healthy New Year. Rave on. Kia kaha e hoa!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Sarah,
Wow! I saw your name in the Top Maropea hut book while sitting out in the "backyard", and I just knew it was you! Very cool. I am so happy you took the time to explore that wonderful area. On a fine day that walk down the Maropea to the forks is just so awesome. And when the river is that low a stroll really.
Colenso is a fair tramp from the forks in any direction. I have done it twice via the ridge directly across from the hut (Puketaramea) and Unknown campsite, which is very sheltered route for the most part, but a long one, and ends in a razor back spur dropping into Colenso basin. You will get there one day Sarah!
I was truly chuffed to see your name, and just knew it was the Sarah I knew from here. A great moment. Bringing like minded people to places I love.
I am, if my ankle comes right, going to take both my boys next week to Top Maropea for what would be my 30th night spent there. I cannot think of better company, as well as the spirits of those I know whom swirl about there. Now you are one. Ti hei mauri ora e hoa. Till we meet!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lynda,
Well hopefully I will rectify that disappointment next week with both my boys, which would be a VERY interesting mountain experience. But the mountains always have the final word on what will be or not be, and if we do not Listen we get in trouble.
I just spent a few days on a wild and oh so beautiful Ruahine mountain river, the Makaroro, and in the company of a few exceptional people. Even in low flow and on sunny fine days this river still exudes wildness and caution. Would we have it any other way?
Thank you Lynda for this past year of your tuning in here, and your wonderful place which so often settles me and makes me smile. I wish you peace, calm, Nature, and Health in this coming time. You are wonderful, and full of wonder. Kia kaha.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora KB,
I was actually quite pleased to climb back up from the hut to see the far off familar peak, and get to it, and as far up it as I did. Walking without intense pain is still very new. So to cover ground easily (slowly would probably be better) but steadily really produces amazing results. I love to walk again KB. I forgot what that was like. Your own path is one I have drawn such immense inspiration from. I will look forward to catching up on your world. Kia kaha to you and all your loved ones e hoa.
I do not recall the author of the quote but one I always remember is "One never steps in the same river twice"

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
Cheers e hoa. I hope the new year has also brought some interaction with nature for you as well. It has been pretty special to spend 7 days in the Ruahine over the last week plus, and with some pretty good company to boot. I truly hope one day to add you to the list of people met via this medium to an in person encounter. Better so if it involves the mountains. I just spent some time in the hills with a real photographer, such as yourself, in Pete. But I guess if we see the picture in our hearts and souls it means the same no matter what or how the moment was engraved. I am a poor imitation of a photographer but that will not stop me from carrying on.
The Maropea, and Ruahine are indeed beautiful and rugged Donald, the invitation to you to visit stands, and would be an honour. I could think of no one I would rather have show me the wonderous open skies and rolling hills of Central Otago than yourself. One day!
Peaceful and Healthy, and as an American mate put it, a Meaningful New Years wish to you and yours. Kia kaha e hoa.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Amber,
Haere mai! It was so cool to run into David, particularly after being told a few hunters were on the way up from the forks. We had a pretty cool time back in 2004 or 05 when I met him with his mate Mike and my mate Gyro. We spent a few days around each other. So to see him still in the hills and thriving really warmed my heart.
I am very pleased to have you guys read and view here, and please do stop in anytime for a coffee :). Wishing you and David a very Peaceful and Meaningful New Year. Enjoy that venison! See you soon.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Larry,
You have been in my thoughts as I have been following your upcoming encounter with the Birkie, and it is looming. I feel you are ready.
It was pretty cool to come out and really just celebrate the New Year very quietly with my beautiful wife, and then head back in to the mountains. It is that time of year and she lets me have that without turmoil. What can I write?
I am actually hoping my ankle will improve, as it is slowly, and allow me to take both my boys back to Top Maropea for my 30th night there. I still have another week off so it is entirely feasible. I can think of no finer company. And give Tara a few nights of peace without males hassling her.
Larry e hoa (my friend) if you ever get here we shall head quickly into the mountains. We will see the trout clearly in the mountain pools. Kia kaha e hoa! Rave on and rock the Birkie.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pam,
I hope you have managed to build a bit of Nature into this busy and frantic time of year.
It has been pretty amazing to wander around the mountains, in some pretty rugged terrain, and not worry about my hip. I am nursing a sprained ankle, which is really bliss compared to how I felt last year at this time and unable to even comtemplate a trip in the mountains.
I will be putting up a post about my last trip. It is still fermenting inside my soul. Kia kaha e hoa.

Anonymous said...

So much, the pictures and the account.

'"You're Robb Kloss - I read your blog, and I met you years back at Parks Peak." Indeed it was 2005 and I was with an American mate and we spent two nights with a then very young David (above) and his mate Mike, who were fly fishing for trout. A very enjoyable experience.'

You are Robb Kloss...

Nothing is better than being recognized in the mountains...

During the Bow hunt this year, I was wandering about before light when I heard a voice...

"Are you a Syme?"

It was a guy we've seen in that canyon on and off for years.

It made that hunt.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Ryan,
That did make my day. I guess not in the fact that my writings may help connect people to the wilderness (fine - as long as it is not my wilderness! A point I am internally debating all the time) but rather to find such quality in someone who recognized me.
I have been in the Ruahine for the better part of 20 years now, and over that time I have spent as much, or more, time there than anyone I can find. Not writing that as an ego thing, just fact. So over time you run into a few people you know, or leave a note for you in the hut book, and now of course the blog is another form of connection. It does make me feel part of the mountains in a way, like I have earned my stripes. Yet every time I set foot just over the boundary and enter the Ruahine I give thanks and it is all new once again. It is good to know we have that feeling in common my mountain brother. Kia kaha.

sarah said...

greetings Robb,

I too should have left a greeting for you in the hut book as i had the feeling that, if you weren't already out during the time i visited, you would shortly be following in my footsteps as i had followed in your many. ahh well, next time i will so keep your eyes peeled for a surprise entry as i hope to get back soon :)

once again, thanks and i will catalogue your latest advice and will probably also pass your blog details onto the new friends i made out in the ruahines (party of 4) as they are locals and looking to make many more tramps out there. all the best with your healing ankle and give the mountains a friendly greeting from me with the promise i shall return.

i am in love with the ruahines!

here's to more wilderness wanderings,


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Sarah,
No worries e hoa. As I wrote I knew it was you, and to know you were roaming about made me smile.
As I write this I have just packed up Charlie and myself to leave in the morning and go back to Top Maropea. It will be my 30th evening there, Charlie's first. I wish both boys were along, but it is not to be. These past three weeks have been pretty cool, going into the Ruahine, coming out, then heading back in. You find the groove fairly quickly, that sense of calm and wildness. I would have gone in earlier if not for my ankle and letting it rest. But the Chomper and I can just take our time and spend the day getting to Top Maropea, and the next day I will take him down to the river for a day trip and spend another night there. Not sure if am not more excited than he is.
I love the Ruahine too Sarah! I know there are far more stunning and higher places in Aotearoa, but once the Ruahine grabs your heart in Her quiet way, there is no turning back. I shall toast you from the "backyard", and no doubt the pool down below as well! Rave On Sarah.

Barbara Martin said...

The photos of your hiking journey are awesome, Robb. It's a wonderful feeling to get out and enjoy what one loves best. I'm so happy that your hip has healed well enough for you to be able to return to the mountains to heal and rejuvenate your soul.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Barbara,
So great to read from you and have back in the blogging world. Always get so much pleasure and inspiration from a virtual hike at your place.
These past few weeks I have spent a lot of time in the mountains, and all was well. I am thankful and grateful for such a blessing. Kia kha e hoa.