52 Peaks Challenge

Peak 11: Kapakapanui

The beautiful North Island is this week’s location for a 52 Peaks Challenge… this time in the Tararua Range of mountains, which is split into two halves creating both a northern and southern crossing. The peak I’d chosen to go for is called Kapakapanui, on the west side of the range overlooking Kapiti Island and Paraparaumu and Waikanae on the coastline and at 1102m (climbing from 140m at the start/finish) it was a formidable challenge.

Again, the sun was shining; the temperature around 27C and the start was stunning. Crossing through the Ngatiawa River 4 or 5 times before the ascent was a blessing (with the cool water) but not so good having wet feet at the beginning of the run.

The ascent started steeply through tropical forest with plenty of birdlife around. Scrambling over roots and through muddy patches, this was reminiscent of Avalanche Peak and I’d have sworn I’d picked the less steep side to climb up… but thankfully the going eased off once I reached the 600m mark. After that, there was a stretch of ridge running, still in the trees, up to Kapakapanui Hut at 840m.

The DOC sign insisted that it was only a 30minute tramp from there to the peak summit, but as it transpires it took 20 minutes to run to the treeline, let alone get to the top in 30mins!! Usually the DOC signs are underambitious… but not in this case.

Out into the open at 1030m and the view was stunning. You could see all the way from Wanganui in the North to the tip of the Marlborough Sounds on the South Island. What a vista.

Along the ridgeline for another five got me to the trig point and another successful peak summit. Number 11 out of 52 Peaks.

Plenty of food on board and a few mouthfuls of water while chatting to a local (out of three people out that day) about his day-walk and how his wife was angry at him for leaving the house for such a long time – especially as they were having guests around for tea. Nice guy, sporting an Osprey Pack.

So the descent… one word; “CONCENTRATION”. It was a lot steeper than the way up and had lots of sections of roots, loose dirt and weaved it’s way through bamboo like trees and dense bush, winding the way down to the Ngatiawa River at the bottom. It took about an hour to descend, nearly the same time as it took to get up the mountain (!).

Back in the valley meant more river crossings and the way back to the car. Another epic day over 1000m, so if you’re in the Tararuas, give Kapakapanui a go, on a good day, the views are second to none.

Back to Canterbury for a while I think…


P.S. a big thanks to Lee and Krystina for giving us a home for the weekend! 🙂

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