Before coming to New Zealand my stamping grounds, in tramping/hiking terms, were the mountains behind Cape Town – that’s where I cut my hiking teeth, and spent many happy hours trudging the myriad of tracks which criss-cross most of them in the company of family and friends.
The first hike I ever did was as a teenager with the YMCA Adventure Club, up Echo Valley to the Amphitheatre, where we camped a night, and spent the next morning exploring some of the many caves which dot the Silvermine Mountains between Muizenberg and Fish Hoek. To be honest, I hated it, and didn’t do any more hikes until I reached my 20’s, but once the bug bit, it bit hard! I’ve done this hike many times since, and it’s almost a must-do every time I return to Cape Town for a family visit. Continue reading
The hike to Ellis hut is an easy but reasonably long one at about 5 hours return, but does offer a few variations and possibilities to make it more interesting. It is also the oldest hut in the Ruahine ranges, with a notorious history, and that alone makes a visit worthwhile!
To get to the start, turn west off SH50 into Wakarara Road, towards the mountains. It is a good, sealed road, which eventually becomes a good, but narrow, gravel road where it enters Parks Peak Station. Keep going (about 20km from SH50) until you get to a farm gate. Go through, and leave the gate as you found it. From here it might be rutted and pot-holed, so take care. About 500m further you’ll get to another gate – do as for the first gate, and follow the road-now-turned-into-farm-track through a third gate until you get to the car park at an information panel on the bank of the Makaroro River. This area used to be the site of Yeoman’s Mill, and there are some remnants and relics remaining, including an old, rusty boiler and a few chimney remains dotted over the paddocks. Continue reading