In October last year I attempted to climb Maukuratawhai with my workmate Kat, unfortunately we had to turn around due to some pretty terrible visibility so it was great to get back there this year and reach the top. Maukuratawhai (try saying that 10 times fast), is a prominent mountain sitting across the Clarence River just on the other side of Jack's Pass from Hanmer Springs. J and I had the four legged terror in tow as we drove up over the pass between Isobel and Dumblane before parking at the turn off to Tophouse Road. There isn't really a track so finding a calm enough spot to cross the river involves a quick bash through the head high foliage to the bank and wandering along in the direction of the ski field for a couple of hundred metres.
I've never seen Izzy swim in a proper current before so I was pretty impressed with how easily she motored across to the other side - webbed feet seem to be the secret here. We regrouped on the opposing bank before frolicking (the dog) and trudging (us) our way to the base of the obvious spur. You can head straight at point 1086m from as far down as your legs can handle - the gradient is more gentle on the ridge than walking straight up the sides here. There is no great navigational challenge for the rest of the climb but you will need to skirt around some of the rockier sections of the ridge. For the most part going right or left at these sections is of equal gain although if you follow a puppy up they'll probably find the easiest route before you even get to it.
Things were going really well for us until we encountered snow from about 1300m. Areas of the mountain that hadn't seen much sunlight were icy and hard to walk on which left us wishing we had brought crampons with us. Thankfully there was plenty of exposed rock to keep moving safely but we would have been noticeably faster if we could have just stormed straight up the snow with spikes on our boots. Izzy feared a little better having inbuilt show shoes and had to keep waiting for us to catch up. From point 1362m to the summit is steep in places and provided more of a challenge with the snow and ice than I had anticipated having been up there in warmer months. We ended up taking around 2 hours from the river to the top at 1615m and 1 hour 15 minutes on the return journey. We were back in Hanmer with plenty of time to still enjoy the day but pretty happy with our efforts on a pretty cold and windy day.
In New Zealand we don't go hiking, walking or frolicking in the wilderness - we tramp.