Friday was the beginning of a long weekend, but circumstances meant I could only negotiate a single day out. I chose to spend it the the Tararuas, visiting the Holdsworth Jumbo Circuit. I walked this in a day back in 2010, but that was with a group. Then it took around 9 hours including about an hour’s stop. This time I thought I’d just go ahead and do it by myself.
Driving up from Wellington and turning left just before Masterton, I arrived at the road-end a little before 9am. The place was already buzzing with holiday-makers, and families emerging from large tents which I guess had been put up the night before. There was still some parking left in the main area, but it was a popular place.
Date: 30th March, 2018 (Good Friday).
Location: Tararua Forest Park, Holdsworth Road End.
Route: Start at Holdsworth road-end, around Donnelly Flat to the base of the River Ridge Track, up to Mountain House, then to Mt Holdsworth (.1470) via Powell Hut. North to Jumbo (.1405), Jumbo Hut, down Raingauge to Atiwhakatu Hut, and back to Holdsworth road-end via the main valley track.
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Despite the stirring buzz around the campgrounds, there were fewer people around soon after I started moving beyond Holdsworth Lodge and across the bridge over the Atiwhakatu River. The previous evening I’d noticed the River Ridge Track marked on the LINZ Topo50, which I’d seen previously but never with a name. Some brief asking around had suggested it was steep and muddy, with lots of slippery tree roots. I decided to check it out as an alternative to climbing via Rocky Lookout, which I’ve already been past a few times. The base of the track is a short set of very steep, narrow steps, but it rapidly levels out slightly.