Alright, here’s the trail log. But let me once again start out with a map so those looking to do the hike can plan their routes effectively:
Check the DOC website for more up-to-date track closure information, assuming that it’s on the website and not just scrawled on a whiteboard leaning against a tree.
I went from the carpark (near the Ranger Station mark on the map) to the falls (not marked on this map, but near where Karamatura Stream crosses the track) then back to the Tom Thumb track, up and around to Huia Ridge then back over Karamatura Track to the carpark again. This is my story.
Annoyingly, the signs don’t have distances written on them so I’ll just be reporting times.
First sign, 11:13am. The time given on the sign is pointless since I’m not returning to the carpark via the Karamatura Loop, so this is only here to give a timestamp.
The next landmark is where the Tom Thumb track branches off. This is also where the loop part of Karamatura Loop hits the main track.
11:37am. It took 24 minutes to get here. This suggests that the estimate of 1 hour for the Karamatura Loop is probably pretty accurate. We can ignore the 40 minute estimate right now because I’m continuing on to the falls (I note that some helpful person wrote in directions to the falls on the sign).
This is where the short spur off to the falls branches from the Karamatura trail. Karamatura Forks is the name given to the intersection of the Karamatura and Huia Ridge tracks, so we will visit there later. Also, it’s a bit out of focus so difficult to tell, but is that a large feather on the ground in front of the sign? Just now noticing that. Anyway…
11:55am. It took 18 minutes to get here from the Tom Thumb branch. This means it’s about a 45-minute walk from the carpark to the falls, which is good information that is not included anywhere on the trail signage. Useless.
Also note that I ate lunch at the falls and generally lounged around for a little while.
12:25pm. Took me 30 minutes to eat lunch, mess about at the falls, and then walk the distance back to the split. It’s downhill on the way back, which explains how I did all that so fast.
At this point I’m beginning the main hike up the Tom Thumb track. It is all very much uphill from this point on until almost the end of the Twin Peaks track.
1:15pm. Took me 50 minutes, which is 10 minutes over the estimated time. This is the first section where the trail just is not very good, so most of that overage was spent picking my way around swampy areas. I was still at this point hoping to get out with a minimum of mud on my person.
Still 1:15. Time to do the Goat Hill track, which is just a there-and-back spur.
1:39pm. Even though Goat Hill is quite steep, the trail is in decent condition and I did it in 24 minutes, 6 minutes under the estimated time. I was pretty winded afterward though!
Still 1:39pm (Actually, I’m lying. This one is 1:15 because I took it before I decided to do Goat Hill and I didn’t take a second one after I finished Goat Hill. But you can see the back of the Goat Hill sign at the top of this photo, so it didn’t take a lot of walking to get between the two signs).
2 hours to the Huia Ridge track. Let’s do this.
Note that Twin Peaks track is <i>the worst</i>. It is muddy and swampy and dangerous. You will get covered in mud and if you’re pushing yourself at all you could easily slip and fall. A walking stick or trail pole is highly recommended.
3:59pm. This point isn’t on the map, but it’s significant because it’s the point where the trail levels out and begins to go down. Note that it’s been 2 hours and 20 minutes of muddy, uphill climbing — so at this point I’ve already gone well over the estimated time on the trail sign. But we’re almost to Huia Ridge.
4:14. 2 hours 35 minutes. That’s 35 minutes over the estimated time, which is annoying (especially when you’re running low on daylight).
1.75 hours to go ’til we get to Karamatura Forks, but the trail is getting better with every km.
5:53pm. 1 hour 39 minutes. But not quite at Karamatura Forks yet.
5:58pm. 1 hour 47 minutes, 2 minutes over the estimate. And that was with me pushing myself.
We have to go along the Karamatura Track and then finish out the Karamatura Loop, but at least the trail is in good condition.
6:55pm. Back to the split off for the falls. Beat the 1 hour estimate by 3 minutes.
7:12pm. Back to the Tom Thumb split. Note that this sign estimates 1 hour to Karamatura Forks, because this sign is a liar.
I don’t have any more photos of trail signs because by the time I got to the carpark I wanted to head out right away to avoid driving through the mountains when it’s totally dark.
So that’s Huia. If the Department of Conservation would add distances to the trail signs and maintain their trails better, they would be doing hikers a service and making the park less dangerous for everyone. If you choose to go there, make sure to leave yourself plenty of daylight and don’t assume you can beat (or even achieve) the posted tramping times.