Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Wanaka to Te Anau

From Wanaka we commenced the Motatapu Alpine Track starting the first day at 530 pm and walked up to Fern Burn Hut. It took us 2 and half hours but that was going hard because we didn't want to arrive at the hut too late and it was a stinking hot day so sucked back lots of water. It was a nice walk up through bush and then out into tussock again. We hadn't been in bush for a while.
All the huts on this track are new and warm.
The next day was a hard day. Long and arduous.  We went from Fern Burn Hut to Rose Hut in one day which involved 3 climbs and descents to 950mtres. The track was not technical just exhausting. We got some great views but also a lot of fog in places. It felt like the Tararuas again! And we were lucky that it wasn't cold.
The next day we walked into Arrowtown from Rose Hut which again involved a climb up and over Rose Saddle and then down and along the river bed to Macetown. We had no views as the fog was really close. Macetown is an old abandoned mining town with some old buildings still standing so we had a good look around there. After that I had had enough climbing so we decided to walk the 4 wheel drive track back to Arrowtown with lots of river crossings.
We arrived at Arrowtown and turned on our phone to the news that Sam was unwell in hospital having appendix removed. So after getting reassurance that at that stage he was OK we had a beer at the New Orleans Bar in Arrowtown and then walked on towards Queenstown. We got a ride about 6 km short of Queenstown and dropped off  at Frankton. Wayne 's sister Catherine and brother in law Pete have a holiday place there so we spent 2 nights with them. It was lovely to catch up with them. They are farming in Winton so we dont see them that often.
Monday we got a shuttle bus out to Glenorchy and round to the start of the Greenstone Track. The weather forecast was for rain which we were hoping would hold off.
The Greenstone Track is an easy beautiful track and that day we did 24km to the Taipo Hut via the Greenstone Hut. After the Greenstone Hut we go on the Mavora Lakes Walkway which isn't as good as the Greenstone Track and yes we got rain some heavy so that part of the trail was very wet and boggy under foot. Because of the rain we had one particularly hard river crossing. It was short but up to my waist and flowing quite fast. Normally it would have been just a stream crossing.
From Taipo Hut, the following day,  we walked to Carey Hut via Boundary Hut which still was quite wet under foot again with one challenging stream crossing which was up from the rain.
Along the way Fabian from Germany caught up with us again. We had met at Hamilton Hut and we had moved in front of him when we went round the two rivers at once and he is walking every step of the trail. So we all stayed at Careys Hut.
It rained heavy in the night and was still raining the next morning. We waited to see if rain was going to stop. We finally decided we would make a move. The reluctance was that there were no more huts for a day or two so would have to set up tent in the rain which sucks. We walked 10 km along a 4 wheel drive track to Mavora Lakes campground. The track was so wet that we spent a lot of time walking through pools of water and it was still raining and cold. We decided to keep on walking to keep warm and try and get a ride out to Mossburn or Te Anau. We had stopped and put on extra clothes and gloves but it was scary how quickly you can get cold and worryingly cold. Our temperature had dropped by the continuous walking in water.  We were extremely lucky to get a ride from some American tourists who took us towards Te Anau and with another ride from some German tourists we made Te Anau cold wet and exhausted. It was still raining.  We had been in hail and cold wind. The temperature in Te Anau was 7 degree and there was fresh snow on the mountains.
Today we are having another rest day here in Te Anau. Last night it continued to rain heavily there is snow down to 700 metres and a cold wind temperature today is 6 degree so us hardened trampers are snuggled up inside next to a heater! Tomorrow on the Trail again. We have to climb up to 800 metres in the next few days so that could be interesting!

Lake Tekapo to Wanaka

From Tekapo we hitched out to Twizel and walked out to Lake Ohau to the start of the next leg to Wanaka. Lake Ohau is a beautiful lake that is popular for water sports so saw a few boats and skiers.
We tramped about 12km in on the track and camped beside the stream. Again lots of tussock and river crossings. The weather was really hot and sunny. After that we had a huge day in the hot dry exposed plains of Canterbury with a big river crossing of the Ahuriri River. We walked across farmland that had a few bits of tussock a million rabbit holes and dry barren dirt. We didn't even see rabbits. We then started the Breast Hill Track which climbs up to the Mt Martha Saddle on an old 4 wheel drive track.  This was the first time we have had difficulty getting water. We have always had a rule of not collecting water anywhere there are cattle or sheep and we had to walk 10 km in the hot hot sun before we could safely take water from the streams. Wayno ' s heel was playing up again so we made camp about 2km from the top of the saddle at the best spot we could find as there weren't many flat spots up there. The next day we walked only 10 km to Top Timaru Hut to give Wayne's heel a rest and from all accounts the following day was pretty tough. The trail from here to Stodys Hut was good for most parts except the last 2km was straight up and hard work. I kept thinking I wonder at what point your heart goes that's enough! Then Wayno who was leading lost the track and took me up some vertical scree and I got stuck and couldn't move. He had to drop his pack and come back for me. I survived lol! We made it to Stodys Hut for lunch and carried on to Pakituhi Hut for the night. Wayno's heel still was hurting him and he needing to take regular pain relief to get through the days.
Lo and behold who else arrives at Pakituhi Hut from the other direction but David Hobbs who we had met twice before. NZ is definitely a small place. That night at Pakituhi Hut we had a small earthquake which woke me up. The next day was a 4 km descent to Lake Hawea and it was 950mtres virtually straight down. It was very steep and narley in other words steep and scary. Downhill is my weakness and am pretty slow but we made it ok and had a lovely swim in Lake Hawea at the bottom. We walked into Lake Hawea and stopped at the coffee shop there for lunch. Great place great food nice staff and anyone on the Trail can easily refuel there. They have just about everything you need. We got a ride into Wanaka from a lovely lady Judy whose husband is doing the Trail in sections and she was biding time while he was on the Motatapu Alpine track.
We booked into a backpackers at Wanaka across the road from an Irish Bar which was dumb as they partied all night.  We hired mountain bikes the next day and biked back out to Lake Hawea and then cycled the TA Trail to Wanaka along the river banks and lakeshore which was lovely.
We then met up with Judy again and met her husband Geoff who had enjoyed the Motatapu Alpine track which was where we were going next. These lovely people dropped us at the entrance to the track at 530 that evening.

Arthurs Pass to Lake Tekapo

From Arthurs Pass we crossed the Cass Lagoon Saddle. It was like a different country. We went from raining to beautiful clear sky and hot weather. The first day we walked to Hamilton Hut. The track was through lovely bush with a few river crossings. We met with lots of trampers doing weekend tramps and all very friendly and chatted with them all. Hamilton Hut was great with 14 of us that night. Lots of tramping stories with the local Cantabrians who were all very knowledgeable about their area. Had to take a photo of Hamilton Hut with Hamilton being my maiden name lol.
The next day was out to Lake Coleridge which was a pretty big day with lots of hot road walking.  We managed to get a ride halfway down Harper Road to Lake Coleridge to pick up a food parcel we had sent there then out to Methven to get extra supplies and then all the way back to Rakaia Gorge with the same people which was great as on the back metal roads there is minimal traffic.
We stayed at Rakaia Gorge Campground which was a great campground overlooking the Rakaia River with beautiful views and cost only  $8.50 each with kitchen and hot showers.
After that we made the decision to go straight to the other side of the Rangitata River and miss the two nights in the middle. We are not able to cross the Rakaia and have to go round which involves trying to either hitch on back roads or $120 for the shuttle then 2 days later we would reach the Rangitata River which if low we could cross but if high it would involve the whole hitch or shuttle around on more remote metal roads about 140 km. We had been advised to check environment Canterbury website for river flows and found the Rangitata to be double the flow for safe crossing so with my short legs made the decision to just go round both Rakaia and Rangitata in one.
We got a ride from a nice lady from Oxford who took us to the turn off to Peel Forest and then got a ride up a further 15km then walked on metal road for about 15 km and got a ride with some lovely gentlemen going up the valley to work on a hut up there. They didn't have room in there car but offered us to sit on their trailer which we gratefully accepted knowing how it would be our one and only chance of a ride as it still was a further 30km and only one farm at the end of the road.  They knew exactly where we wanted to go and dropped us at the entrance of the Two Thumb Track. It had just started to rain and they even checked out our raincoats to make sure we were well prepared lol.
We managed to get up to Crooked Spur Hut up the valley with lots of boulder hopping and river crossings. Crooked Spur hut has a spectacular view out down the valley to the Rangitata especially from the loo lol. We met up with an English couple Angie and Phil who were doing the Trail as well and they have just completed the Pacific Crest Trail in America. They say this long hiking is addictive!
The following day we hiked from Crooked Spur hut to Royal Hut via a lot of tussock, valleys and stream crossings with a lot of swampy parts and the trail wasn't that clear.
We were in bed and asleep at 930pm when in clatters another tramper and made hell of a racket sorting himself out and cooking dinner. Arriving at huts after dark should be banned!
The next day for us was one of the highlights of the whole Trail. We climbed up to Stag Saddle the highest point of the Te Araroa Trail and then scrambled scarily across some scree to a ridge where we had spectacular views of Lake Tekapo and the Alps. We walked all the way down a long ridge to stay at Camp Stream Hut a cute 4 bunk hut  built in 1897.
The next day we walked out to Lake Tekapo township a long hot day on a very exposed dry barren boring track followed by a long metal road walk.
We reached Lake Tekapo town and had trouble finding accommodation and ended up in a backpackers in a shared room with no windows! Just about did my head in without fresh air. Most of the backcountry huts have lots of gaps in the walls so lots of natural ventilation!  Lake Tekapo was not very nice.  A lot of rude selfish unfriendly tourists we found there. We stayed 2 nights and even saw a physical punch up between mother and daughter on the idillic lakeshore -get us out of here!
The next section of the trail involved 56km of metal road walking and Wayno has been getting severe pain in his heel so we hired some mountain bikes and did 80k rest day on that section on bikes. We  cycled out on Braemar Road past the Army Camp to Lake Pukaki down the edge of Pukaki then back to Lake Tekapo on the canels. It was a long hot day again with no shade and after 80k cycling I was exhausted.  As we were cycling along a car pulled up coming the other way and the driver said "I know you you are Wayno and Di ". It was David Hobbs who we had met on our walk into Hamilton Hut after Arthurs Pass. Small world. It was great to chat to him again. He is doing the trail in sections and follows everyone's progress.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Boyle Village to Arthurs Pass

After Hamner Springs we hitched back to Boyle Village and started our next leg to Arthurs Pass. We got a ride from a lovely local who took us all the way to Windy Point where our next leg started. He was a retired gentleman who just enjoyed our company and went out of his way to help us. Like I have said previously NZers are a great bunch of generous friendly people.
We hiked from Windy Point to Hope Kiwi Hut the first day. We are managing to now regularly do 20 to 30km a day depending on terrain. We are coping with the climbs better - just getting fitter I guess.
The next day was 31 km to No 3 hut up the Huronui Valley then the next was over  Harper's Pass to the Kiwi Hut.  Sandflies still a major pain.! How to send Wayno insane lol.
After that we did an awful long hard day from Kiwi Hut down the valley and then up Goat Pass to Goat Pass Hut. The tramp up to Goat Pass is the same as the Coast to Coast run leg and involves multiple river crossings. Luckily there had been no rain and the crossings were not too bad but after 12 hours on the trail and a climb for the last four hours we were pretty shattered at the end. That wa yesterday.
Last night while up at Goat Pass Hut the rain came in so this morning we were up and on the trail early as we still had more river crossings to do and didn't want to get stuck by high rivers. We got through OK and made it to Arthurs Pass where we are having luxury with meal showers doing washing and real sheets on our bed.
I have to say that this last section has been hard for both of us. I think we are just both mentally and physically tired.
Not many pictures taken this section sorry.  Will get out camera more next leg.
Tomorrow we are off to start Arthurs Pass to Tekapo section which will take about a week.

Travers Saddle & Waiaua Pass

From the Richmond Ranges we went round to St Arnaud and met up with Mark again. We refuelled and headed back into the hills for the Travers Saddle and Waiaua Pass.  This part was the most challenging of the trail so I was packing myself wondering how it was going to be and if I was going to be able to do it.  I had even seriously considered going around and leaving Wayne and Mark to go on without me.
The first day 5 Jan we hiked 31 km up the valley from St Arnaud to the Upper Travers Hut. It was a beautiful walk with lovely scenery.
The huts in the Nelson Lakes Park are much more popular than the Richmond Ranges huts so were a lot more occupied. We met and chatted with some great people. There are a lot of different tracks that are popular in that area.
The next morning we were up and off early to get over the Travers Saddle. It took us just an hour to reach the top and then down and over the other side which was not as hard as I thought it would be. The sense of achievement was good.
We stopped for lunch at West Sabine Hut where Mark had to do a consult for a girl who had sprained her ankle the day before and still couldn't put her boot on. It makes you realize how remote we were as for her to walk out would have been 8 hours! They had sent a message out with another tramping party and the chopper arrived to pick her up about 10 minutes after we  left.
We tramped on up the valley and stayed at the Blue Lake Hut. Again the hut was pretty popular and we met with a couple, Dylan and Rebecca who had come over the Waiaua Pass the day before and were going back over the next day the same as us. It was good to hear about the Pass first hand. I was still  very nervous and scared so not a lot of sleep happened that night!
Over the Pass we went the next day and yes was scary in places but not as bad as I thought it would be. Climbing from Little Rintoul to Mt Rintoul in the Richmond Ranges was worse by far.
Over the Pass we had some steep descents then long valley walks joining with the St James Walkway until Boyle Village. Down in the valley there were no huts so we had to camp one night. The sand flies were so bad we had to eat dinner in our tent and the next morning pack up and leave without breakfast. They were so awful we stopped for a break about 10 am for a cup of tea and we couldn't sit still to drink it we had to keep walking and drinking at the same time! And that was with using insect repellent!
We stayed one night at this lovely hut Anne River Hut.  It was quite new and warm with nets on the windows so you could get some fresh air with out insects. All the other huts you have to keep windows and doors closed up to keep them out.
After Boyle Village we hitched to Hamner Springs where we spent a couple of days resting as we were pretty shattered.
Mark spent one night with us then headed home to Waiuku. We stayed at a great campground called Hamner Springs Forest Camp 3 km from Hamner. We spent 2 nights there then used our Christmas present from our lovely children which was a Hamner Pamper Pack. This entailed a night at the Settlers Motel a steam treatment a massage and spa pool and free entry to the hot pools. Just what we needed after the previous hard couple of weeks. Thank you Anna Sam and Sean.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Queen Charlotte

We crossed over on the ferry to South Island on Boxing Day at 830am. The boys as well. Wayne and I started the Queen Charlotte Track the same day. The boys were starting the next day and running 58 km to catch up with us at Mistletoe Bay. We started at 3 pm and had 24km to do so it was a long way with reduced time. We even jogged a little way and arrived at our first campsite at Camp Bay by 730pm.
The next day was a long 33km day. The Queen Charlotte Track is beautiful but hard under foot so arrived Mistletoe Bay with sore feet. No complaints as we were much better off than Sam and Sean who made it in by 8pm tired sore hungry and thirsty.  They must have downed 5 litres of powerade each back when they got in.
The next day we walked 12 km to end of track then we went on to Havelock and the boys back to Picton and home. We had a night in Havelock to do refuel for next leg in the Richmond Forest Park.
We were a little disappointed with the last day on the Queen Charlotte as mountain bikers are allowed and being holidays the track was too congested with walkers and mountain bikers together.
After Havelock we were off to the Richmond Ranges.

Richmond Ranges

Mark arrived safely with the help of Peg and Kevin on New Years Eve to Hackett Hut. It was raining hard and consistently and we had thought we might have gone on to the next hut which was a 4 hours 900metres climb with 8 river crossings to start with. The heavy rain had made the river crossings impassible so we had to wait it out to the next day till the river went down. New Years Eve at Hackett Hut with Chris a German who arrived wet and cold and Jeff a local who was at the hut when we arrived at 10 am and already was half cut then!
New Years Day HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone.
Off we set to hopefully make Old Man Hut via Starveal and Slaty Huts.  We had 8 narley river crossings as the river was still flowing well but with   the help of Chris the German who is 6 ft plus tall we made it ok. The water was up to my waist on one of the crossings -scary!
We made it to Old Man Hut and the views around 180 degrees were the best so far.  The weather was perfect.
The next day we planned to get to Tarn Hut which involved a big climb up over 3 peaks Little Rintoul  Mt Rintoul and Purple Top. I had always been nervous about this part and the two climbs on from St Arnaud Travers Saddle and Waiaua Pass.
And yes it was as I expected hard and scary especially Little Rintoul across to Mt Rintoul. Lots of narrow parts and some steep downhill scree with no hand holds which is my least favorite part. I survived! The views again were outstanding and weather great. We made it to Tarn Hut about 5 pm tired but with a sense of achievement.
About 2 hours out from the hut Mark went up another track to look at the views from there and got misplaced and ended up taking the wrong track in the wrong direction and not realizing till late that he wasn't on the right track for the hut. We had no phone coverage at the hut. Wayne went back looking for him but we didn't find out till the next morning that he was OK so not much sleep and plenty of anxiety occurred that night. Once we had established he was OK we were pretty shattered so made the call to take a different route than planned and get out of the Ranges and meet  up at St Arnaud and get back on track. So we took the Lower Goulter track ended up at Blenheim for the night and hitched to St Arnaud the next day. We have two days of unfinished business in the Richmond Ranges!