I have been craving mountain views, so was greatly excited about the Jumbo-Holdsworth work, which had been postponed from a few weeks ago.
The Tararuas are a mountain range 90 minutes’ drive from Wellington. They are notorious for annoying tree routes and rapid weather changes. So I was braced for a lot of looking down and equipped for sun and snow.
The Jumbo-Holdsworth circuit is normally done as a leisurely walk over three days but is doable as a long day trip if you are so included. It takes in two peaks (Mt Jumbo and Mt Holdsworth) hence the name.
On arrival at the walk, with a group from Meetup, I was a little disheartened by an immediate decision to ditch the long walk and just walk up to the hut near the top of Holdsworth.
But I got over this pretty quickly as we ascended to Powell Hut, which is about 1200m (of which we had walked 900). The last section involved quite a few steps, always a mixed blessing (the bane of boring steps, hard on the legs, but the relief of not having to care too much about your footwork or slipping back down the slope). We got up to the hut in about 2hr 30 and had lunch looking out over the Tararua range in one direction, and the farmland of the Wairarapa (Martinborough country) in the other. At the hut we decided we were in fact fast enough to make it a bit further and decided to go on up to Mt Holdsworth, another 300 metres. At the top the clouds were coming in so we didn’t hang around. We had decided to descend via the East Holdsworth track rather than the way we had come. As we were crossing the open ridge to get to the start of the track we met an experienced couple of Tararua-ites who warned us that the track was steep and slow, with plenty of tree routes.
Steep and slow it was, and by the end I felt like my body had had a full workout from twisting and turning and squatting and leaning. The final four kilometers were flat and fast. A long drive back to Wellington ended a great day. Afterwards I realised that Mt Holdsworth is higher than any mountain in the UK – though we had only ascended 1200ish metres so I have a little way to go before I can claim to have outdone Ben Nevis.
Mt Holdsworth return = 16km
Kilometer-o-meter = 302km