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The Western Okataina Walkway adventure 13 March 2022

We set out on a Grade 3 walk with 17km ahead of us, with the option of a one-hour side trip to the trig and many up and down grades to cover.  Tony Dickens was the leader and Ron Clarke was the tail end Charlie.

The Grade 1 team walked down the same track for two hours and then returned to the vans. They then relocated the vans to the Education camp to pick up the grade 3 walkers.

The weather was perfect with sunshine and warm winds with high streaky white clouds.

The path was perfect. Smooth, wide and dry with lots of dead leaves covering the ground.

Our intention was to meet the Grade 1 team at the Education camp at 4pm which meant we needed to walk at a average pace of 3.4km per hour and we achieved this with a few minutes to spare.

The bush surrounded us with lush fern trees and healthy young regrowth forest.

There were eight of us fit enough to walk at Grade 3 pace and everyone seemed to enjoy the effort required to maintain this pace both up hill and downhill. Our first welcome break was taken after one hour and 3.5km covered when we stopped for smoko in the bush. After smoko we came across two marked river crossings only to find that DoC had put culverts in so we didn’t even need to get our feet wet- Iuxury

After three and a half hours we made it to the junction where the side trip to the Whakapoungakau Trig was an option.  13.1 km completed. Only Aaron was keen to go so he ran to the trig whilst the rest of us enjoyed a leisurely lunch listening to the Bellbirds serenade us.

Having saved an hour by not walking to the trig it left us with a one hour downhill thigh burner to reach our final destination and wait a few minutes for the vans to arrive.

The track is best described as an undulating endurance walkway rather than a hard tramp. We were sharing with mountain bikers so had to stay alert.

One of the highlights at the end of the day was the ice-cream at Tirau on the way home.

 The walk definitely rated as a grade 3 in the opinion of the eight Wanderers that completed the 16.4km journey in 5 hours as planned.

Rose Dickens

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