In October, we had a long weekend for Labour Day here and had planned ages ago to do an off-the-grid multi-night trek with our friends Kate and Gaz. Out on Cape Palliser in the Wairarapa, the Kawakawa Station Walk caters to those wanting to get out into the bush for a couple nights, but with some awesome perks. They transport your bags for you (including chilling your drinks) and all meals are prepared and waiting upon arrival, ready to pop in the oven or on the grill. Kawakawa Station is the glam cousin of the NZ Great Walks, and we couldn’t wait.
Our first night out of three was spent at Farm Cottage, by the entrance to the station – no walking required, yet! The walk can cater to 11 people, so we expected to be with other groups, though unlike DOC huts, there’s no room sharing with strangers. After a bit of time hanging around, our hostess Bex arrived with her adorable pup to tell us we would have the accommodation all to ourselves for our walk (yay!). She gave us a short safety briefing and overview of the track before leaving us with the radio we’d have for communication on our hike. It was time to settle in and enjoy the evening.
Of course, the nearby riverbed beckoned me to explore.
The low sun and greenery of the station made for some epic views.
This would be our last night “on the grid” so we did take advantage by watching a bit of TV, including some captivating Australian Ninja Warrior and part of My Best Friend’s Wedding. Our dinner was an insanely huge chicken roulade with potato gratin and salads, oh and dessert too. So. Much. Food. We settled in for a good night’s sleep before our first day of hiking, which would also be the most challenging.
The next morning, we had a hearty breakfast and packed up to get out before the group finishing their hike was due to arrive. I love all the little touches that made the Farm Cottage so cozy.
We set out along the winding coast road for the first part of our hike. In all, this day would cover 11 km, and we knew we were heading for the 616 meter (2,021 foot) ascent of “The Ant,” the highest point on the trek.
Just outside the small coastal village of Ngawi, it was time to turn inland and start our climb up from sea level.
It didn’t take long for the view to open up below us.
The trail was hard going, since it’s built for farm vehicles and doesn’t have the switchbacks that a normal hiking trail would to make the rise a bit easier. The amount of times we thought we were “almost there” was laughable, but we soldiered on.
Not long after midday, we arrived at the summit of The Ant, at long last.
The views out over the vast 1,379 hectare (3,408 acre) station were incredible. For those of you who may not know, a “station” in NZ refers to a large farm for grazing sheep and cattle. Kawakawa Station is one of the oldest in the Wairarapa and besides pastures cleared for livestock, native bush still covers about half the land.
The views from our little spot on top of the world were unparalleled, as was knowing we were the only ones on this portion of the hike and wouldn’t encounter another soul. Truly a special experience!
Looking down into the valley below, we caught a glimpse of our destination for the night, Jakeb’s Cabins.
Of course, we had to get some photos to prove we were really here.
Gaz was there too, I swear.
With a farewell and a brief glance back at our friend Ant, we headed slightly downhill to find a sheltered spot for lunch – leftover roulade and potato gratin. Just what we needed after one of the steepest hikes ever! Let’s just say this “glam” hike isn’t for the faint of heart.
After lunch, it was down, down, down into the valley. We passed lots of possum traps on trees, which is great. Kawakawa Station has their own part-time pest control guy, and you can see why it would be a huge job. There were a few traps that had possums hanging from them, which I decided not to include here. They are an introduced scourge in NZ and threaten our native birds, so it’s one of the only times it’s good to see something dead.
As we neared the end of our trek, we came to a sign pointing us toward our accommodation at Jakeb’s Cabins. The next day, we’d be heading back up here and going the other direction, toward Purple Hut.
We were definitely ready to relax and crack open some of our chilled beers as the cabins came into view.
Done for the day, we put our feet up and enjoyed the sunshine and incredible views from this little slice of paradise that we had all to ourselves.
Stay tuned for part two of our hike, coming soon!