This is a good five hour hike! The sign says 4-5 hours, so judging our capabilities on previous experience we expected to clock it out in 4 hours, but it took us 5 minutes shy of 5 hours. And we don’t dawdle like the old ladies we may look! So we were happy to read another tramping party mentioned the need to ‘revise trip times’ in the hut book – at least we weren’t the only slow pokes in the bush.
The track is simply stunning, open beech forest – giant beech trees, mossy and quite Jurassic in appearance … awe inspiring!
The first two hours meanders along the flat following the Hinemaia River upstream passing numerous hunters camps, then the track heads into the hills with some butt burning steep climbs in places. We hit snow at 1200m, but the track peaks at 1240m so that was sort lived. The track then descends down to Cascade River, again steep and knee ruining towards the end. Once in the valley it is a picturesque meander along the river to Cascades Hut
The hut sleeps six and is well equipped if not rustic, with a wood box fire place and coal to burn – if you can get it started that is – as it took us a combined effort of an hour to get the thing burning – not ideal as we arrived well after dark with the temperature sinking below zero.
Access to trip: Travel 28km from Taupo on SH5 towards Napier, then turn right onto Tauhara Road. Follow Tauhara Road a few kilometres then turn right onto Clements Mill Road. After passing Sikas Lodge the road turns to gravel, follow the gravel for about half an hour until road ends. Cascade Hut walk starts from here. No cell phone coverage.