The most difficult part so far, two beautiful passes and the steps over the 1000 km!
At 5:30 we are packed and ready to leave our nice motel (Mount Hutt Motel). Stop, something is wrong in this sentence. 5:30? How the hell could that happen?? Actually we wanted to leave in the evening, hitch to lake coleridge, stay at the lodge and leave early to tramp 30 km. However the lodge is closed. We had the idea to ask our nice motel owners to help us out and drive us to lake coleridge in the morning. Without hesitation, they accepted ( thank you, Keith and Sharryn!). However, than they even found a better solution: Kevin, also from Methven, works near the campground (30km after Lake Coleridge) and does not mind to take us. He leaves at 5:30, so we happily accept the ride. He even invites us to have our breakfast at his working place, out of the cold wind. Thank you, Kevin, it was great meeting you!
We start with very heavy backpacks with tons of food. Was it really a good idea to let Heiko do the grocery shopping- alone and hungry?? The going is slow. The path is along the Harper River, with a lot of crossings and therefore wet feet. At 1 pm we already reach the really nice „Hamilton Hut“ – Hikers call it „The Hilton“ due to its nice set up. We try to reduce as much weight of the pack as we can before we set out to the next hut. The first time since a long time the path leads through a nice wood, we (and the soles of our feet) enjoy the soft ground. The path is very easy and we quickly reach „West Harper Hut“. In the trail notes this hut is described as „historical“, now I understand what that means… We decide to pitch a tent near the hut😉
During the night and in the morning it is raining a little bit. However the path is really fantastic. Good maintained, through forrest, Tussock, a small ascend to a sattle with nice views and than a long, not steep down. Totally relaxed we reach „Bealey Hut“, where we enjoy our lunch. After the Hut we somehow miss the path so that we end up walking on the street. We reach „Greyne Shelter and Campsite“, our goal of the day. However, there is a sign, that camping is not allowed any more. Grrrr! Ok, change of plans. We hitch to Arthurs Pass (with a nice taiwanese couple) collect our Food Box and look for an accommodation. Unfortunately everything is full so we end up staying at the basic campground. We meet some nice people with whom we drink our Whiskey (so that we can refill it with the new one of the food box).
During the night the rain gets stronger. We start to tramp nevertheless, however we are sceptical as the „deception valley“ is known as a section where you have to cross a lot of rivers. On the way we meet several people who turned around as they could not cross the rivers. We decide to go further anyway. We have enough food (thanks to Heiko shopping hungry and alone😊), so we have the possibility to wait in the huts. As the rain gets heavier we decide to stop at the gorgeous „Mingha Biv“ a new shelter. We stay there to wait for better weather!
In the morning we use a short period of no rain to start tramping to the next hut, the „Goat Pass Hut“. The usually low „ Mingha River“ reaches up to the hip. However the current is not too strong so that we can pass safely. Socken wet, but safe. Besides the uncomfortable wetness it is a great walk. The forrest seemed to have awaken and all the small waterfalls are beautiful to look at! At the Hut we enjoy a second breakfast while trying to warm up. A group of four hikers who came from „Deception Hut“ arrive. After we got ensured by their informations that the hike is possible we start again. It is only 2km to the next hut, but these were the most challenging kilometres we had so far. Due to the water level, the going is very slow. However we manage and are more than happy as we arrive at the Hut. Enough for today! We light the fire ( also a challenging task due to wet wood) and try to get warm and dry again.
The next day the weather looks slightly better. It does not rain anymore and we even get a glimpse of sun! Still we have a lot of waist deep crossings to accomplish, but the going gets easier. We celebrate as the sun reaches us, what a great feeling! In the afternoon we even have full sun, so we decide to camp after the footbridge and before the next hut. We enjoy the warmth!
However at night, the rain starts again. We are angry at ourselves that we have not used the sunny afternoon to push further until Kiwi Hut. Too late… We start early in the morning, hoping the weather does not get worse. We have some crossings to accomplish, however, we manage without difficulties. At Kiwi Hut, we enjoy a second breakfast, trying (without success) to dry our tent, before we start to „Locke Stream Hut“. Even as we arrive there fairly early, there are already 4people at the hut. As we wait out a storm we enjoy the nice company!
The storm brought the cold. It snowed already at 1100 meters. Brrr! As we have enough food, we only want to hike 17 km to „ Hurunui #3 Hut“, an easy day after all this challenging crossings. We enjoy the walk through stunning forrest, climb 460 height meters up to the Harper Pass and descend to the „Cameron Hut“. Shortly before our goal, a three-wire-bridge brings us dry over the river. I asked myself before what this might be, but it is easy, as the name tells, what it is: three wires which can be used as a bridge!😊 As we reach the Hut, the weather is changing again, this time to the better! We enjoy the cloudless sky and even manage to dry our shoes for the first time in 5 days!!
As the following day is the 50th on the trail, we celebrate with a short 10 km day to „Hurunui Hut“. The really easy path leads us directly to a „hot pool“. We enjoy a hot bath, feels like vacation! At lunch time we are already enjoying the sun at the hut. What a day!
We plan a normal hiking day the next day with 19 km. However the path is so easy, that we already reach the „Hope Kiwi Lodge“ at lunch time. We pass some swinging bridges, forrest and nice grassland. As the Hut is really nice, we decide to stay there nevertheless and enjoy meeting fellow hikers!
We start early to manage the 27 km to Boyle village. As the days before, the way is really flat and easy and the going is quick. As we look foward to a hot shower and some frozen pizza which we heard are available at Boyle, we manage the kilometers quickly. The last part of the way we choose the road as there is a bridge over the Boyle river ( and we have enough of river crossings and wet feet). Strangely we are not able to hitch a ride, despite the helpful sign (see pic), however the sun is shining, the roadwalking easy, so we do not mind. At Boyle village Outdoor Center we are greated very nicely. The warden knows of our project „Hiking4Haiti“. The Center even donates and we happily add their logo to our website. Thank you very much for your support and friendliness!! We collect our Food-box which we have sent from Invercargill and enjoy the accommodation! Unfortunately we are not able to stay two nights as planned to have a rest day as they are fully booked. Too bad!
We decide to start midday the next day instead of staying another day at the campsite. It is an easy, nice 3.5 hours walk to the „Boyle Flat Hut“. We are again fully packed with food and snacks. Very important is the chocolate! We still eat half a pack a day, only the size of the packs changed…(see pic). Later on, Tomas, another TA hiker joins us. We are happy to meet him again and enjoy the company. Thanks for the beer again, Tomas, what a nice surprise!!
As the Hut is at 900 meters we are not surprised that the morning is cold. There is ice on the ground. Nevertheless we start tramping in our shorts, after some walking we get hot anyway. The walking is fantastic, easy and with stunning views to river and mountain. After an easy climb up and down of „Anne Sattle“, we reach the nice and big Anne Hut, where we decide to stay.
After a fantastic clear night with beautiful stars a warm morning greets us. The summer is back! The whole day we hike through forrest and grassland always looking on th „ Mount Mahanga“ which we will climb tomorrow by the Waiau Pass. The sun shines brightly and we enormously enjoy the hike. We reach the „Waiau Hut“ and with it exactly 1000 km since Bluff fairly early. Time enough to enjoy a swimm and celebrate the achievement of 1000 km with our traditional Whiskey! The Hut fills up. At the evening there are 8 people sleeping in the 6 bunks hut. Very hot night!!
The next day, we pass the Waiau Pass. What wonderful views! Absolutely stunning. To get there we have a long but easy ascent until the last part is a serious climb. We enjoy the climbing part very much even if there is a lot of loose rock, which makes the going slow. The descent is very steep. A lot of small gravel so that I unwillingly often „sit“ on my behind. It might have been quicker to just stay on the ground and slide. Besides beeing very dirty we arrive the bottom safely. After the pass we still have to manage some serious ascent and descent to eventually reach the Hut.
The next morning we enjoy a short walk to the „Western Sabine Hut“ where we stay fir a rest day. Relaxed we than tackel the next pass, the „Travers Pass“. A long ascent (1100 height meters) up to the Pass on 1780 meters through mostly forrest awaits us. However it is not really steep, so we manage quite easily. On top we enjoy the view while eating lunch before we descent a short way to „Upper Travis Hut“
Almost at the end of this section of the Te Araroa, we truly enjoy the 18 km walk to Lakehead Hut. It goes mostly downhill on an easy path. After a short while we reach „Travers Falls“, a wonderful waterfall. We reach the Hut and enjoy the last day on the trail, looking forward to two rest days in St. Arnaud. It is now really time for burger and beer. We had a great evening with nice people (it was fantastic meeting you, Shona and Ant!).
The next morning we „stroll“ the last kilometers to the small village of St. Arnaud.
Some words to our project (Hiking4Haiti -1600 miles for Rotary): we are happy to have reached now 22.000€ on funds for Haiti. To start building the second well we just need another 4000€ which we want to raise until mid april. If we are able to do this, the second community already gets the well and when we are visiting Haiti in July we can already experience the changes the community experienced. We do not have time on the trail to do serious fundraising, however if one of you wonderful people reading this blog is going to donate, that would be highly appreciated!