New Years Day – The day the SOTA world rejoices and many get out and active with the UTC roll over between SOTA years and double points are up for grabs. This year we made it to Hawkes Bay in time to activate a summit here, unlike last year with a few hiccups that saw our holiday delayed a few days. This year we were up early to get up top early – Destination, Taroponui Bound!!!
Leaving home base at 8am we thought the trip may take longer than it did and we made it to the summit with plenty of time to spare. This is a drive to summit, though permission is a must as is a key to access the site.
Once you leave the road its a gravel track right to the summit with a total of 13 gates, we were lucky today and only a handful of these were shut. The weather was looking good when we left bright and early, however as we neared the top we soon realised we were not going to be so blessed up top, the cloud was covering the top of the mountain and grey clouds were looming, with winds rushing through the valley. Once at the top Warren set about quickly getting set up while the kids went off exploring the slopes to see what views were out there – there were a few though most of it was only viewable when the clouds blew over and showed off the surrounding views, these views didnt last long.
Taraponui is perfectly placed as a microwave and VHF comms site for Napier and north. The local amateur radio club host a VHF UHF and APRS repeater here due to its outlook. We battled the noise generated from the equipment here and due to this did not manage to make many contacts on HF. We worked Wynne ZL2ATH at Maroanui on 7 MHz fairly early, followed by locals on 146 MHz (after some rounding up on the local repeater). With effort we managed to make contact with John ZL1BYZ at Karioi on 21 MHz however the contact was very difficult.
After 1300 with the rain setting in,icy winds and nothing more to hang about for Warren grabbed his 4 needed contacts plus 1 more for good measure, we packed up quick smart and headed down for home. Another summit activated, twice over, nicely in the log, as well as another complete and 3 S2S contacts. A fruitful day despite the poor weather and RF conditions.
Summit – ZL1/HB-020 Taraponui
Height – 1308 mASL
Access – From Tutira store turn off, head down Matahorua Rd, left onto Pohukura Rd then left into Opouahi Station. Follow the track up to the summit.
Nominal time to summit – About 2 hour drive from Napier.
Mobile and internet coverage from the summit – 3g coverage on Spark network, Vodafone is very patchy.
Summit Marker – Radio Masts, trig.
Land Access Permission – Required. The farmer is open to hams accessing the site however snow cover will restrict access during winter. A key is required to get past a locked gate part way up.