An Awakino Weekend

Four vehicles with 11 keen trampers left early on Saturday morning, with a rendezvous in Kurow at 7.45am before heading up the road to the Awakino Skifield and lodge. We found the road in to be less maintained than in past memory, but all managed to drive to the locked gate at the top car park. Rodney and Helen left their car here, and joined Julian and Lynette for the 4WD climb up to the lodge. We arrived there around 9am, unloaded the cars, put on our tramping boots and headed up to the ski field. 
Morning tea was enjoyed in the sun at the field day lodge, in what was a lovely sunny day. The group then headed up the 4WD track to the ridge leading towards Koharau, and soon spread out along the track. It was a warm climb, not too difficult, and the views expanded as altitude was gained. The first trampers arrived at the top of Koharau around 12 noon, took photos by the cairn, admired the views from the coast, following the path of the Waitaki River, around to Mt Domett, the Buster Diggings, Remarkables, over the Rock and Pillar Range to Mt Aspiring, and around the Southern Alps to Mt Cook shining in the sun. Absolutely fabulous views, but the cold wind soon encouraged us to find a sheltered place to enjoy lunch. All but one tramper made their way to the top, a great effort.
After lunch, Julian suggested that rather than return the way we had come a traverse around the tops would take us to Foster Peak, and from there down to the ski field and back to the lodge. 6 agreed to this route, while the other 5 decided to save their legs and head back down to the base. Julian led off, with 5 others following. 
The route taken took the trampers down to the saddle, before climbing back up around the back of the tops to the south of the ski field. This involved much careful climbing over slabs of broken rock, before coming onto the ridge above Glacier Basin. Then back up onto the tops leading around to Foster Peak, now sadly minus the large wooden cross previously erected there. A loose steep rock/scree scramble took us down to a saddle from where it was possible to get down to the ski field, and then back down to the lodge. All arrived safely, with the last two arriving just on dark, to the relief of those waiting.
Scrumptious food was soon being prepared on the excellent gas range, with the log burner heating the hut as well as heating the hot water cylinder. A convivial evening was enjoyed by all. A discussion was had re plans for Sunday, as that had been planned to go to Foster Peak but those who wished to go had already achieved that objective. Agreement was reached to have a relaxed morning, then return to Kurow, walk Kurow Hill followed by coffee and scones before heading off back to Oamaru. This was a good decision, as it appeared that the wind had strengthened around the tops, and we arrived home early Sunday afternoon.
A great weekend was had by all, and thanks to Maurice and Phyllis, Neville, Jenny, Julian and Lynette, Karyl and Rodney and Helen for coming along. Also my grandson Thomas, who came for his first real tramp and enjoyed the experience.