Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Crossings over 2000 Metres

In order from North to South

Alma Col Two Thumb Range 2139m

Unnamed Pass Sibbald Range 2200m

Ailsa Pass Liebig Range 2190m

Ball Pass Mt Cook Range 2121m

Copeland Pass Southern Alps 2150m

Gladiator Hooker Range 2125m

Crossings of the Main Divide

In order from North to South

Waiau Pass 1870m

Ada Pass 1008m

Lewis Pass 863m

Harper Pass 962m

Whitcombe Pass 1239m

Copeland Pass 2150m

Maori Saddle 1245m

Harris Saddle 1255m

Maps of St Arnaud to Cape Farewell

St Arnaud to Cape Farewell 1_2M



St Arnaud to Owen River 262

Owen River to Trevor Carter Hut 262



Trevor Carter Hut To Flora 262



Flora to Lonely Lake 262




Loney Lake to Kaituna 262



Kaituna to Cape Farewell 262

Maps of St Arnaud to Aickens

St Arnaud to Aickens 1_2M



St Arnaud to Blue Lake 262



Blue Lake to Ada Pass 262


Ada Pass to Boyle 262


Boyle to Harper Pass 262




Harper Pass to Aickens 262+

Maps of Aicken to Erewhon


Aickens to Erewhon 1.1M



Aickens to Harman 262+

Harman to Hokitika Gorge 262+



Hokitika Gorge to Prices Flat 262+



Prices Flat to Rakaia 262+




Rakaia to Lawrence via Bulter Saddle 262+




Lawrence to Erewhon 262+

Monday, January 28, 2008

Maps of Erewhon to Haast


Erewhon to Copeland SH6

SH6 Copeland to Haast Road


Erewhon to Rankin's Hut



Rankin's Hut to Copeland Pass



Copeland Pass to SH6



SH6 to Rubicon Biv


Rubicon Biv to Fraser Hut


Fraser Hut to Pleasant Flat

Flora Car Park to Cape Farewell (Jan 2007)

Summary

Evening Flora Carpark to Flora Hut 2 kms

Day 1 Flora Hut to Saddle Waingaro Peak 9 hrs 30.5 kms

Day 2 Saddle Waingaro Peak to Lonely Lake Hut 5 hrs 8.5 kms

Day 3 Lonely Lake Hut to Adelaide Tarn 6.75 hrs 6.5 kms

Day 4 Adelaide Tarn to Boulder Lake 4.25 hrs 7.5 kms

Day 5 Boulder Lake to Kaituna Forks 8 hrs 34 kms

Day 6 Kaituna Forks to Ngaroa Farm Gate 8.5 hrs 27.5 kms

Day 7 Ngaroa Farm Gate to Puponga 7.5 hrs 18.5 kms

Day 8 Puponga to Collingwood 23.5 kms

Day 9 Day Walk at Collingwood

Diary

Wednesday 3rd (Evening)

Pam dropped me off at Flora car park at 2045 following. the Wednesday night 5km run, and I walk down the Flora hut for the night.

Thursday 4th (Day 1)

Away at 0745, arrived at Trilobite earlier than expected at 1215 via bullock track. Cooked lunch there, then carried on for a further 3 ½ hrs to Fenela hut. Had tea at Fennela and rested awhile. As the hut is rather full, I decided to camp at the tarn near the saddle below Waingaro Peak. The tarn turned out to be more like a small pool, but it was a lovely spot and the weather warm and calm. I even managed to get cell phone coverage. I am very pleased with progress today and hope to make the most of the settled weather.

Friday 5th (Day 2)

Away at 0800 and followed the well worn route to Lonely Lake hut. Easy going in the main and arrived at LL at 1300. It’s very hot and I decide to stay here tonight so spend the afternoon relaxing. Tomorrow will tackle the high sidle to Anatoki Peak in the cooler morning.

Saturday 6th (Day 3)

During the night I talked myself out of the high sidle, so did the low route instead. After seeing the bluffs later on, I didn’t regret the change. The high route is best done in the opposite direction. I vow the do it one day with company! Another fine day today. I get away at 0815 and arrive at Adelaide Tarn at 1500. I took a route down to the Anatoki River almost directly to pt744 from the saddle. I didn’t strike any bluffs and the going was pretty good. However when it came to the climb up to the saddle west of 1435, I ended up cutting up into the bluffy part of 1435, but managed to sidle below the worst of them. Lots of scratches on my arms and legs from bush bashing. A piece of foam mattress on the ground is testament to the fact that I am not the only one to have taken this route. It is nice to see Adelaide Tarn once again, this being my third visit. Some nice sized empty snail shells were seen today. For an evening stroll. I circle the tarn and climbed over Trident and Douglas peaks. A family of Keas entertained me enroute. I could see Farewell Spit in the distance and closer to hand the Dragons teeth, and Lead hills.

Sunday 7th (Day 4)

Rose at 0730 to misty drizzle and got away at 0845. Missed the track after descending from the needles eye, but regained it after backtracking and making sure I could see the next cairn from the one I was at. Whilst at the eye, it was eerily still and silent in the misty conditions. Weather warm and pleasant. I wasn’t sure where Green Saddle was so got out the GPS to guide me to it. It turned out I was only about 200m from it. Arrived at Boulder Lake at 1300. I would have had enough time to get to Bain ham but stayed the night at Boulder Lake in the hope that tomorrow will bring better visibility. Reading material in the hut referred to Appo’s creek/flat. Related to Appo Hocton? Also the oldest hut in NZ is Machine Hut in the Lyell 1890!

Monday 8th (Day 5)

Up at 0600 and it is still misty and drizzling, but when I left at 0730 the mist had lifted some what and the drizzle had stopped. I could actually see Boulder Lake from the hut! An easy hike out to the car park in 4 ½ hrs or 5hrs to the road end, then another hour to the Bainham store. Weather fine. I have a big spend up at Langford’s store. They don’t take EFTPOS so I arrange with Laura Langford for a cheque to be sent later. I buy baked beans, spaghetti, peaches, pears, krisbies, lemonade and a toothbrush and toothpaste. I cook up lunch at the store so I don’t have to carry all the weight I purchased. I clean my teeth for the first time in 5 days! Whilst there, I am surprised by the amount of traffic that stops here for photos and ice creams. Left Bainham at 1550, arrived at the Naked Possum at Kaituna after 1 ½ hrs. They do take EFTPOS so I buy a couple of beers, then head of for the Kaituna Forks where I make camp. The Rata is flowering prolifically, and the Nikaus look healthy due to the warm moist climate.

Tuesday 9th (Day 6)

Up at 0630 and away at 0830. Initial climb from the forks was steepish, but rest of the track gentle up and down. Kaituna track is very pleasant and varied, although mostly done in the rain or drizzle. Arrived at track end near Knuckle Hill at 1300 and walked out to the Wanganui inlet via an old logging road, arriving at 1345. Was intending to walk out to the Wairoa inlet, but I think this part of the track no longer exists. The next leg involved walking up the road to the Ngaroa junction, arriving at 1615. then arrived at the Ngaroa farm gate at about 1700. The Kaituna track is well worth doing, with subtropical bush and prolifically flowering rata at both ends of the track. I setup camp in light rain. The weather forecast for the next 24hrs is heavy rain. I will sleep in tomorrow if it does rain heavily. A neighbour kindly promised to ring the owners of Ngaroa farm to let them know I am coming. She tells me about the hassles they had with draining the Ngaroa swamp.

Wednesday 10th (Day 7)

It rained and blew thru the night, but luckily I placed the tent in a sheltered spot. The rained ceased at about 4 – 5am. So up at 0600 and packed up and away by 0800. There was nobody around at the Ngaroa farmhouse, so I carried on thru the farm. A lovely spot with nice native areas and outstanding geography, including Mt Lunar. No bush bashing required today and I stepped onto Wharariki Beach at 1015. I arrived at the most northern point of the South Island at 1210. Later I arrived at the more spectacular ‘official’ point of Cape Farewell. I estimate that my point is 55m more north than Cape Farewell! From here I walk the coastal track to the Puponga Farm visitors centre, arriving at 1500. I ordered a smoked chicken salad for lunch and a Monteith’s Black. (My first proper meal in 8 days and it was magnificent!) A short walk later saw me tenting at the Puponga motor camp where I enjoyed a hot shower. I decide that tomorrow I will walk the 23kms to Collingwood. Since Pam is not due until Saturday afternoon and I have time to kill. Unfortunately it is not possible to walk out to the lighthouse on Farewell Spit; otherwise I would have done it. You can walk for about 5kms though.

Thursday 11th (Day 8)

I’m on the road at 0930. I have a snack and cuppa at Pakawau before continuing to Collingwood. The day came out sunny so I stopped at the Collingwood cemetery for a late lunch and to dry out wet clothes. I book into the Collingwood motor camp for 2 nights. No more carrying a pack!

Friday 12th (Day 9)

Later in the morning I head off with my pack to climb to pt 518 at the end of Whakamarama Rd. I jog out to the road end and climb steeply to the top. As I am not carrying much water, I go no further than pt 518. I return the same way. I chat to some interesting characters at the motor camp and wonder about their backgrounds!

Saturday 13th (Day 10)

I decamp from the motor camp and walk up to the motel that Pam & I will stay in tonight. I leave my pack there and fill in the rest of the morning by walking along the Bainham road for about 6km, before returning to the motel. Pam arrives in the early evening and we dine at the old courthouse. Having now completed Cape Farewell to Erewhon Station, I am nearly ½ way!

St Arnaud to Flora Car Park (Dec 2006)

Summary

Day 1 Mt Robert Carpark to Sabine Hut 6 hrs 18 kms

Day 2 Sabine Hut to Owen Junction 8 hrs 31.5 kms

Day 3 Owen Junction to Below Sunrise Peak 6.5 hrs 23 kms

Day 4 Below Sunrise Peak to Rolling Junction Hut 9.5 hrs 18 kms

Day 5 Rolling junction to Trevor Carter Hut 8.5 hrs 24 kms

Day 6 Trevor Carter Hut to Crow Hut 6.5 hrs 18 kms

Day 7 Crow Hut to Splugeons Shelter 7 hrs 18.5 kms

Day 8 Splugeons Shelter to Graham Valley 20 kms

Diary

Saturday 16th (Day 1)

Departed Mt Robert car park at 12:55 heading up the Robert ridge, taking the scenic route. However mist and drizzle closed in so that was the end of the view. Arrived at Angelus hut after 3-½ hrs. Quick snack and drink, then off to Sabine hut via Cedric. Spooked a buck chamois in the misty condition on ridge out to Cedric, and did the usual knee bashing dropping off Cedric. Arrived Sabine hut at 19:15, just as it started to rain lightly. 6 hours total walking time today.

Sunday 17th (Day 2)

Up at 06:00 and out the door at 07:45. The sign said 5 hrs to Rotoroa and that’s how long it took! The track is not very well maintained as most people take the boat now a days. Only 1 Robin was sighted near Rotoroa village! Rested and lunched at Rotoroa, then departed at 14:30. It took 2 hrs to reach the main road and a further hr to the picnic area just before Owen Junction. The road walk was hot and tiring, though the pace was fast. Tea was porterhouse steak and noodles, well earned and delicious.

Monday 18th (Day 3)

Slept in til 08:00 and got away at 09:45. It took 3:20 walking time to reach the Bulmer track car park, and what a pleasure it is to have the road walking behind me for now. Roads are fast but very monotonous. I have unfortunately developed a blister under my left foot but my shoulders and hips are getting used to the pack. Away again at 14:15 and it’s so nice to be walking a bush track. 3-¼ hrs later I arrive at the bush line below Sunrise peak. A steady rain sets in so I decide to make camp right here on the track on the only flat ground available. To supplement the meagre water that I have, I spread the fly out on the ground and collect about 1-½ litres of rainwater in 20 mins, which will be enough to get me to the top of Mt Owen tomorrow.
Tuesday 19th (Day 4)
A thick layer of leaf mulch ensured a comfortable nights rest, and the stars were shining brightly by the middle of the night. Arose at 06:00 and watched the sunrise as I cooked breakfast at 06:10. What a great spot to camp with the sunshine streaming into the tent and not a sandfly in sight! Headed off at 08:15 and arrived at Sunrise peak at 09:45. Weather fine and calm. Arrived Mt Owen at 11:45 after picking my way through the labyrinth of rocks. I dry out the gear while I lunch in the pleasant conditions. Away again at 12:45 and arrive at Granity Pass hut at 14:15. 3 women in the hut offer me hot water for a cuppa which I gladly accept. They had just done an up and back to Mt Owen prior to me coming over. Left Granity Pass at 15:00 and arrived at Courthouse flat at 17:45 following a steep descent down the ridge route and a 20min grunt up the staircase. Unfortunately I think I may have lost my little toenail on the descent. A quick feed and water and I’m off again to Rolling Junction hut where I stay the night sleeping on the floor. The phone wasn’t working so am unable to touch base with Pam. The evening is pleasant so I am able to dry out the tent in what remains of the evening.

Wednesday 20th (Day 5)

Slept surprisingly well on the floor but was woken about 11pm by the sound of my cup falling off the billy. I did not see who the culprit was. Away at 08:00, passed Kings Hut at 11:00 and stopped at the more interesting Cecil kings Hut for a cuppa and snack. I have struggled a bit this morning, as I am a still a bit jaded from yesterday’s effort. It starts to rain so I decide to rest and wait and see what the weather brings. I lay back on the mattress and dozed. The rain cleared so I left at 12:45 and arrived at Stone hut at 14:45. Feeling a lot better after the rest at Kings and since the weather looks reasonable with low cloud but blue sky visible above, I decide to carry on to Trevor Carter. Hut via Biggs Tops. I guessed it would take me 4hrs; in fact it took 3 1/2hrs. (50mins to saddle, 1 ½ total to bush line, ¾ across tops) I enjoyed the stands of mountain cabbage trees between the saddle and the bush line. It snowed lightly as I crossed the tops and I found the steep descent into the Karamea quite treacherous in the wet conditions, especially where the track follows beside the creek. A mother with 2 older children had a nice fire going at TC hut. I rinse my socks and dry them overnight over the heat of the fire. The mother reads aloud to her children from one of the Lord of the Rings trilogies.

Thursday 21st (Day 6)

Left TC at 0750, arrived Thor after 2-½ hrs. Left Thor at 1100, arrived Venus after 1 ¾ hrs. Left Venus at 1410, arrived Crow at 1620. This last section was slower as I am getting pain in my LHS inner quad. Walking on flat ground is ok but up or down is not good. A consequence of the previous steep descents of the last 2 days, no doubt. Hopefully an overnight rest will help it. Deer prints quite numerous in the Karamea and there’s not much of a lake left anymore at Apollo creek, as it is basically filled in. In a pool just short of Crow Hut, I spied 6 big trout cruising around. The weather is fine though cool. A few robins about but not a lot of birdsong. As I have arrived early, I spend some time gathering and chopping firewood for a nice fire. I boil lots of water and have a good wash, including socks.

Friday 22nd (Day 7)

Left Crow hut at 0825 and arrive at the Karamea Bend Hut at 1125. The birdsong is nice today, including a robin singing it’s heart out just above me at one of my rest stops. My quad is getting worse with the last hour very slow and torturous. The right leg is having to do all the work on the ups and downs. If there had have been a radio in the hut, I would have called DOC and asked them to relay a message to Pam to say that I will be an extra day. My destination is Splugeons shelter so I plod on , leaving Karamea Bend at 1300. I arrived at Splugeons at 1700. The flatter going along the Leslie has eased the pain in the quad and the smooth benched track up to Splugeons means that I am not having to step up very often. At one stop a friendly robin was within about 300mm of my hand, perched on my walking stick. As I am plodding along dragging my crook leg behind me, I think of the guy’s at work enjoying Xmas beers, but decide that I’m not missing anything at all. In fact I thing they are the one’s missing out. I even wonder whether I should become a tea-to taller, but I can’t see myself holding to it. What a pleasure it is to walk up the benched track to Splugeons Shelter. I wonder how many tracks are made like this now a days? A pleasant evening was had at Splugeons talking with an Alaskan couple. It was at least 11pm before I rolled over in my sleeping bag to sleep.

Saturday 23rd (Day 8)

The leg is a lot better today. I ring Pam from the Salisbury/Balloon junction and confirm a pickup time at the Graham Valley. I chat briefly to a couple there, and they kindly give me a piece of fruit. The lady is a physiotherapist and she tells me that I strained my such & such ligament in my knee. I stop at Salisbury hut where I meet a guy from Reefton who happened to work with my brother Jim in the MOW. The next stop was Flora hut. Here I chat with a guy who happens to be the bird curator at Te Papa. I am in no hurry so we talk at some length. Last night the Alaskan couple asked me how many native birds have become extinct since human colonisation. I didn’t know the answer but the Te Papa guy did. To date 54 species and or subspecies of land birds have. And of course, many of what are left are endangered. I make it down to the Graham Valley without aggravating my quad too much. I have just enough time to brew a cuppa before Pam arrives.

Aickens – Erewhon Station (Dec 2005)

Summary

Day 1 Aickens to Hunts Creek Hut 5.25 hrs 13.5 kms

Day 2 Hunts Creek Hut to Julia Hut 10 hrs 12 kms

Day 3 Julia Hut to Harman Hut 10 hrs 13.5 kms

Day 4 Harman Hut to Camp Harman River 10 hrs 4 kms

Day 5 Camp Harman River to Crawford Junction Hut 10 hrs 8 kms

Day 6 Crawford Junction Hut to Adventure Bivvy 11 hrs 9 kms

Day 7 Adventure Bivvy to Cedar Flat Hut 2 hrs 2.5 kms

Day 8 Cedar Flat Hut to Hokitika Gorge 7 hrs 22.5 kms

Day 9 Hokitika Gorge to Prices Flat Hut 9 hrs 20.5 kms

Day 10 Prices Flat Hut to Neave Hut 7.75 hrs 9 kms

Day 11 Neave Hut to Louper Biv 6.75 hrs 12 kms

Day 12 Louper Biv to Lawrence Biv 9.5 hrs 15.5 kms

Day 13 Lawrence Biv to Erewhon Station 7 hrs 25 kms

Diary

Saturday 3rd (Day 1)

Drove down from Nelson, lunched at the Otira Hotel. Dined on fish, chips and salad with a pot of tea. The hotel is pretty run down and the pineapple pieces in the salad fizzy! Dropped off pack at Kelly’s Creek then drove back to Aicken (the end of last year’s walk) where Pam dropped me off at 1:45pm.
The first 4-5 kms travel without pack an easy walk along the road, but weather drizzly. Arrived at Kelly’s at 2:30pm, donned my pack (26kg) and headed up stream. The sign said 5hrs to Hunts Creek hut, but I arrived after 4½ hrs. It was a good job I started a ½ day earlier than planned because my original plan was to do Aicken to Julia hut in one long day! It rained all day and I was very damp when I arrived at the hut. Some of the food in the bottom of the pack got wet, including the rolled oats! The first part of Kelly’s basically follows the river, except at the first gorge where I had to sidle high, and in a couple of other places following a cut track. Upper Kelly’s follows cut bush track all the way to saddle, then sidles around the steep sided Hunts Creek until it opens up near the hut. Got wet to the crutch crossing a deep narrow ditch when passing through the saddle. The hut is a 4 bunker, especially cosy when it’s wet outside. However, no dry wood, so damp clothes will be put on in the morning. Mild weather. Tomorrow will head to Julia hut, wet or fine. I may not see tops tomorrow, so are thankful for having the GPS and waypoints to aid me in finding the saddle in Dry Creek.

Sunday 4th (Day 2)

Steady light rain all night and for the first 2hrs today, then on and off thereafter. Made porridge out of the damp portion of the oats. Left Hunts Creek Hut at 7:40am. The first part was slow going over big boulder scree, and then it was easy going up tussock flats. I had to use the GPS to confirm the position of the saddle. However, when I went to “ Go to nearest”, nothing came up! I hadn’t uploaded the waypoints from the computer, so I took shelter behind a large boulder and manually loaded in the required coordinates. The climb to the saddle was easier than I had expected with a good gut to follow to the top. Arrived on top after 4½ hrs, in mist, but the mist cleared from time to time to allow me to see where I needed to head. I dropped down a gut to get into Dry Creek but got stuck so had to climb back up and go up and over some bluffs, then dropped down loose scree. Very slow descend down Dry Creek to Taipo due to weight of pack and boulder hopping, but at least no bush bashing was required. It took 3½ hrs to reach the Taipo from the tops, and then a 2 hr walk up a good track to Julia Hut. Crossed my first 3-wire bridge on track to Julia. Arrived at Julia hut at 5:30pm, 10 hrs from Hunts Creek hut. I had met 3 people who had come from Harman Saddle, heading for the Mid Taipo hut. They said they couldn’t find the hot pools as they thought they were underwater due to the river being up slightly. Anyway, I headed off as soon as I arrived at Julia hut in search of the hot pools and much to my relief found them easily. 15min later, I had shovelled out a pool then soaked til 7pm in the lovely hot water. I got a pack full of dry wood from the old hut nearby and lit a fire to dry out wet clothes. The sun had come out for ¾ hr at 1:45, otherwise intermittent drizzle/light rain for the rest of the day. Will sleep well tonight. I wouldn’t mind a rest day tomorrow but will need to press on to Browning Pass/Harman Hut. It looks like Popes Pass has some snow on it, but I hope it is soft with the mild weather I am having.

Monday 5th (Day 3)

Nice to start with everything dry! Left Julia Hut at 8am. Although the track has been trimmed recently, it was still 3hrs to get up to the tussock flats. This section used to be a benched track! It is now hard going and I was wet through. Overcast with drizzle, although I thought I saw my shadow for 1 min. Overall the conditions were good until I was descending to Browning Pass. I arrived at Popes Pass at 2:15pm, then backtracked and climbed up a snow chute SW of pass and crossed under Mt Harman. Going not technical but didn’t arrive at the top till 3:30pm. Misted in on the Browning side so needed compass to get direction. It started blowing with cold rain, so for the first time this trip I got cold hands. Ended up slightly west of the lake and since the conditions weren’t pleasant, I didn’t bother going to the lake but cut down to where I could see the main track crossing the Arahura. Arrived wet at Harman hut at 6:10pm. All up, 10hrs 10mins. After 2 10 hr plus days in a row, I am feeling rather tired. Harman Hut has some dry wood so will get a fire going to dry clothes etc. Tea was bacon & rice risotto.

Tuesday 6th (Day 4)

Woke at 6am and I could see the tops out both windows, so the weather must be clearing. It had rained during the night and was drizzling in the morn. Got up for a pee but went back to bed, as I was still tired. Slept a bit more and finally rose at 8am. Went for a walk down to the Harman swing bridge to look at the river and take some photos. The drizzle had finished but it remained overcast. Left the hut at 10:20am and was in the river above the gorge 1 hr later. I climbed up to a rocky knoll above the hut and then did a very steep but short bush bash/slide down to the river. Another 2 hours and I was at the base of the snow chute that I needed to climb up. I climbed up the main chute, and then headed up the main gut at the top of the snow. Slowly the going got steeper and steeper until I could go no further. I got the GPS out and found that I was 200m N of the saddle I was heading for. I could not climb back down with my pack on, so I had to lower the pack down with a rope, and then climb down after it. Had just got down onto the top of a snow chute when I stumbled and slid about 10m. It happened so quickly it was all over in an instant. I had my walking stick with me and had planned to use it to self-arrest. However it was not strapped to me and it got left sticking up where I tripped. Luckily the snow sloped sideways as well as down, so I slid off to the side and came to rest against the side of a hole where the snow had melted through. No damage was done but what a wakeup call! If the snow had not sloped sideways, I would have gone straight down about 50m and slammed into rocks at the bottom. I climbed back down to where a small gut came in from the side and proceeded up to where the saddle should be. However, I got bluffed up there also, so had to climb back down lowering the pack on the rope as before. Before I got back into the main gut I slid about 5m on some steep smooth snow grass. The dilemma I now had was; how was I going to climb back down the main snow chute that I had come up earlier? It was steep, about 120m long and had sheer rock sides so I couldn’t get around it. After the earlier incident, I knew that if I slipped here, it would be all over for me! I therefore decided to descend backwards using the walking stick as a third leg in front of me. I would move one limb at a time, kicking my boot into the snow several times to ensure that I had secure footing before moving the next foot. When both feet were secure, I would reposition the walking stick by stabbing it into the snow. It took me over an hour to descend down that snow chute but I made sure I took as much time as I needed. Going down backwards meant it took 3 times as many steps than when I went up. Why didn’t I have crampons and an ice axe??? I dropped back down to a flat spot near the Harman River and set up the tent. Arrived there at 8:30pm but only 2 hrs from where I had started out this morning. 8 hrs wasted in another 10 hr day, but hopefully valuable lessons learned? I had an easy tea of backcountry cuisine; cup of tea and then it was into bed.

Wednesday 7th (Day 5)

Sunny at last! My new Hubber tent was good. I had set it up on the edge of a mossy swamp. (Only flat smooth site I could find) No dampness came through the floor though, and it was very soft. Left at 9am for the other obvious saddle shown on the map. (South of the one attempted yesterday) and was at the top at 11:30am. Hard climb but not technical and was able to climb up the edge of some packed snow. There was one small tricky bit just before the top where I had to clamber over the top of a pile of potentially loose rock. The Crawford side was much easier but I had to bush bash for ½ hr to drop down to the river and arrived at the Crawford bivvy at 2pm. Nice bivvy, had a late lunch and cuppa. Last person signed in there was on 1/11/05! It took 1 ½ hrs to drop down to the Top Crawford hut. The track down the Crawford has recently been cut properly which is a nice change, but it’s still typical rough west coast track. A further 2 hrs should have seen me at Crawford Junction hut, but I crossed over the swing bridge to the west side 10mins above the junction, so I found myself on the wrong side of the river. DOC west coast isn’t strong on signage! Not knowing what the river crossing was like at the junction, I backtracked and arrived at the hut at 7pm. (4 hrs from bivvy) Another long day but did spend 1 hr at the bivvy. So here I am at Crawford Junction, 1 day later than intended. However, from here to Rakaia I will be following tracks or marked routes. I have had 4 ½ days of hard walking so far, but at least the pack is getting lighter and my shoulders are toughening up. The old junction hut in front of the present hut has recently been demolished and burnt but there is still a lot of sheet metal and nails lying around. The firebox in the hut was out of action so I lit a nice fire outside and enjoyed the evening and warmth.

Thursday 8th (Day 6)

Another wet drizzly day with a couple of brighter periods. Left the junction at 8:45am. Arrived at the swing bridge to Kokotahi hut 3¼ hrs later, snacked, then carried on to Kokotahi bivvy, arriving at 2:10pm. Out of 5 hrs walking, 3 hrs was boulder hopping up the river and the last 1 ½ hrs was better on bush track. Going was very slow for the distance travelled, but not strenuous, though hard on the legs and ankles. The Kokotahi bivvy is derelict but still a nice place to lunch, especially as the weather was drizzly. Also known as candle hut as inside was a galv drum full of candles from the NZFS days. The going up the creek to Zit saddle was easy. Before arriving at the saddle, I cut north per details obtained on remotehuts.co.nz. Even with a GPS I still managed to stray too far SW and had to backtrack to get back on track. Luckily I had not dropped down too far down the Zit creek side before I realised my error, but I can see how many others would have got themselves bluffed in Zit creek. Left Kokotahi bivvy at 3:30pm and arrived at Adventure Bivvy at 7:50pm. I was too tired to carry onto Cedar Flat hut, so am staying here tonight. It’s a small one bunk, low roofed bivvy with a water tank. But it’s dry and cosy. Weather misty and drizzly and my clothes are quite damp. There is a lot of weka about and they call quite frequently. Lilies are everywhere and are flowering. I didn’t see Spaniard grass until Harman River where they are very small. Here in the Toaroha catchment, they are larger, more like you see in Nelson Lakes. The body is sore so am hoping for a good sleep tonight. Just because a track is shown on a map does not mean the going is easier! The pack is lighter now, but in future I’m thinking of leaving more gear behind, but what can I do without? Dry clothes!

Friday 9th (Day 7)

Rained through the night and all morning. I rose at 10am. Every part of me is sore from the shoulders down! The hut book at Adventure bivvy goes back to 1984! Only 6 Nelson region people noted in the hut book in that time. Apparently the hot pools at Wren creek are still there, so I intend to hike down to Cedar Flat in the afternoon and stop the night there. It shouldn’t take more than 2 hrs.
It was still drizzling when I left Adventure bivvy at 1:30pm. It’s a steep descent down Adventure ridge to the Toaroha River with a flat section ½ way down. Arrived at the river at 3pm and arrived at Cedar flat at 3:30pm. The Toaroha was running dirty due to the rain. There are 2 huts at Cedar flat, one historic and one newer. I stayed in the newer one, which should be rat proof. Cedar flat is aptly named as the tussock flat is surrounded by mountain cedar (Kaikawaka). I went up and checked out the hot pools only 15mins away. They weren’t very warm due to the rain causing surface water to dilute the hot spring water, so I didn’t get in. Got a fire going in the hut to dry out clothes, found a nice plate so I had a “proper” meal. (Pasta, green beans, tuna for main and dried apricots for dessert) The sun came out when I arrived at Cedar Flat and the sky is still blue at 9pm, so I am hoping for a fine day tomorrow for a change. One Whio (blue duck) seen in the Toaroha, and I also saw one just below the Crawford bivvy a couple of days ago. Today has been a rest day with only a 2hr walk. I am now 2 days behind schedule, so I will walk out to the road end tomorrow, then road walk to the Hokitika Gorge. That should then put me 1 day ahead of schedule for the Whitcombe leg of the trip. However I won’t get to see the upper Toaroha, Mungo and Frew saddle. Maybe another time though?
Sandflies have not been a big problem until now. Somehow they are getting into the hut through the mesh screens?

Saturday 10th (Day 8)

It has been a beautifully fine and warm day today. It took 3 hrs to walk to the road end, and then I crossed the river and cut across paddocks to link up to the road leading toward the gorge. Luckily the river had dropped from the day before. I got permission to cross another property so I was able to take the most direct route. I imposed myself on a farmer’s wife at a farmhouse, to use the phone. No answer at home so I rang Peter Hutton’s 0800 number and made contact through him to Pam. Also requested that an ice axe and crampons be brought to Christchurch for the Alma Col part of the journey. I arrived at my food drop spot at 3:30pm, so it had taken about 7 hrs from Cedar Flat. I set up camp near here in a small clearing with water only metres away. Set up a clothesline and dried and aired clothes etc. Weather forecast is fine for the next 4 days so that should get me at least over Butler saddle? I ran into a couple of people on my way out of the Toaroha, the first people seen since the Taipo. I sorted out my food and supplies for the next leg, and then I rehung the surplus back in a tree for later pickup. Tea was canned beans and sausages, followed by fruit salad.


Sunday 11th (Day 9)

The day was fine and warm, although it started with heavy dew. Left the locked gate at 8:45am for the 2 hr walk to Rapid Creek hut. Lex Sutherland’s book published in the late 60’s stated that the track followed the true right all the way to the hut. Therefore I did not cross the 2nd of 2 cable carriages on the way and lost 15mins before I spied a track marker across the river. So I backtracked and found the hut not far up the river from the cable carriage. Met a couple of young hunters in for a 2-day weekend from Christchurch. Had a cuppa and long chat with them before heading of at noon for the 3hr walk to Frew hut. I got to the Frew junction in 3hrs but somehow missed the hut. It appears to have been relocated? The track markings leave a little to be desired. Carried on for another ½ hr before stopping for a late lunch. Off again at 4:30pm for the expected 2½ hrs to Prices Flat hut. It actually took 3½ hrs due to numerous active slips in the last 2kms of the gorge below Prices Flat. All up it was 4hrs from Frew to Prices. Total walking time for the day 9hrs, as I missed the new Prices Flat hut as well and had to backtrack. (No sign indicating, “Hut this way” but a sign indicating “track splits 2 ways”. I took the wrong way!). Saw a deer on the track between the old and new huts. Actually 2 hind legs and a bum as an animal meandered off the track. The Hokitika/Whitcombe catchment is the only area so far to show deer sign. Actually there are more deer prints than human on this track. The last person to stay at Prices Flat was exactly 1 month ago. This route is not as popular as I had expected. The track to Rapid Creek was a combination of benched track and riverbed. Rapid to Frew, mostly riverbed; Frew to Prices, it starts off good with good benched track, terraces, some better riverbeds, but then gets really hard going through the slips. There were lots of thistles and nettle. I grabbed a nettle bush for support at one stage and am still getting tingling in my hand and arm. Not nice! I have a fire going to dry out wet socks and leggings, and to burn up rubbish. Why was the Whitcombe not named the Hokitika? It seems to be the main feeder of the glaciated water and carries more volume. However I did not get to see the upper Hokitika and Mungo rivers. I presume that the Wilkinson will be the source of the glaciated water off Mt Evans. Tea was rice risotto with tinned tuna found in the hut. It’s now 11:15pm, one more cup of tea and then it’s bedtime. Will not need to be up too early as tomorrow’s walk should be 2 3hr sections. There are mouse droppings in the hut so food will be hung tonight.

Monday 12th (Day 10)

It came in overcast last night with some drizzle throughout the night. It stayed overcast all day, but with only a few light spots of rain. Most of the day was warm and bright. I left Prices Flat at about 9am, crossed the swing bridge and climbed up the vertical bank again (DOC has a rope hanging down) and expected to be at Wilkinson hut turnoff at noon. However the going was slow, mainly due to trees across track and not so much caused by slips as yesterday. I even got the GPS out to find out how far I had got and eventually arrived at the turnoff after 4¾ hrs. I didn’t go down to the hut in case the next leg was similarly slow. Stopped for lunch on the track and was away again by 3pm. The track was much better from Wilkinson and arrived at Neave hut at 4:45pm. What a nice change to arrive at a hut this early. The views of Mt Evans, the Wilkinson glacier and bluffs were awesome. I hope my pictures turn out OK. Took a picture of 2 Whio today. Saw a fantail today, which reminded me that it was the only one I have seen! In fact I haven’t seen any robins either. Is it because of the bush, weather or 1080? Some kind person had left a book in the hut, which was of Louper’s account of the first European attempt to find a route over the Whitcombe pass to the West Coast. They both managed to get to the coast but Whitcombe drowned crossing the Taramakau. They were near starvation. A very interesting read.

Tuesday 13th (Day 11)

Another overcast and warm day. Some drizzle at the pass but cleared again. Tops partially misted so will have to see how the pictures come out. It took 3¾ hrs to climb to the Whitcombe pass, which is nothing more than a gravel pile. Most of the route to there and down the eastern side was riverbed travel though easier on the east. Even had some tussock travel, which doesn’t happen on the west. The downward leg took 3hrs to Lauper bivvy and arrived at 3:45pm. The hut book had indicated Lauper to Neave 5-6hrs. I think a heavier pack than most have really slowed me up when one is clambering over rocks all the time. A blister on the outer left ankle giving some grief, mostly caused by travelling up the true right of the Whitcombe and always using the inside edge of my boots clambering over thousands of river boulders of varying sizes. Lauper bivvy is very basic, but it does have an open fire and there is plenty of dry wood about. Got a lovely fire going. The challenge tomorrow will be to get across the Rakaia River, especially as it’s running very milky. It has two tributaries, being fed by the Ramsay and Lyell glaciers. The tops are misted in on the Jollies range so I can’t see Butler saddle. There is no memorial to Whitcombe at the saddle, which surprised me. It’s now 7pm. I will relax and enjoy the fire. The sandflies are really thick.


Wednesday 14th (Day 12)

It’s been a great day today, the best so far this trip. Left Lauper bivvy at 8:30am, I walked across the Rakaia riverbed toward Reischek hut. (The riverbed is 1.3km wide here) Couldn’t cross the river here due to slippery boulders, depth and speed of flow, so I headed upstream. Just managed to cross the Ramsay tributary but in hindsight, probably shouldn’t have. I really had to lean heavily on my walking stick. The main flow at this point was less than 2m wide but swift and waist deep. As I exited I slipped on a slime-covered boulder and arsed up, so I got completely wet. I probably should have crossed at the outlet of the glacier lake, though it probably would have been slippery?
Carried on up to the Lyell tributary and missed or did not see the swing bridge shown on the map. Managed to cross just after Meins Knob, but lower down than the Lyell hut. I found a spot where there was a deep pool so the current was minimal but it was chest deep. Wet again! From here I started to climb toward Butler saddle. Luckily, only a very short bush bash was required before getting onto easier tussock. I followed the main spur up until above Lyell hut, and then I started a sidle around toward Butler saddle. Came to a bluffed creek, so I had to follow it straight up. Going was good though, yeah no boulders! I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to cross this creek until I got to the main ridge. Luckily just before the top, a basin appeared above a waterfall, so I was able to sidle around to the saddle. Saddle was 1800m; the river was 600m. It had taken 2 hrs to cross the Rakaia, then 5¼ hrs to the saddle. Arrived at 3:45pm. What a contrast the Lawrence side is, practically all scree. The first 10-15mins was loose scree so I made the most of that and dropped quite quickly. Then it was back to the monotonous slow unmoveable stuff. It took 2 hours to drop down to the Lawrence River, and then it was a 15min hike to the Lawrence bivvy. The bottom part of the stream had a small gorge, so had to sidle around it, otherwise I just followed the stream out. I saw 3 dead tahr today, so some culling has occurred recently. Arrived at the bivvy at 6pm. The bivvy is very small, the door the smallest seen so far, but cosy and well provisioned. The result of being used by hunters no doubt. (Lots of empty 270 shells lined up on the dwangs) I was well provisioned myself so didn’t need anything, except I did top up my fuel bottle. The best part today was being able to walk on snowgrass instead of continual boulder hopping. The weather was mild and mostly sunny. I may only go to Lawrence hut tomorrow as I have a day up my sleeve. My ankles are also causing some concern, as the tendons are very sore. A nice waterfall tumbles out of a basin behind the bivvy.

Thursday 15th (Day 13)

10 days to Xmas! I slept in a bit this morning and didn’t leave the bivvy until 9:30am. Ankles are very sore when walking on uneven surfaces, but much better when I picked up the rolled surface of the 4wd tracks. Didn’t see either the Hermitage or Lawrence huts on the way out, so carried on down to the Clyde junction where there was a station hut but no water outside. Got there at 1:15pm. A quick bite to eat, then I carried on to Erewhon Station. As I neared Erewhon I realised that the combined flow of the Clyde and Lawrence rivers made it impossible to cross the main channel, so I had to back track 1 km to a point where the main channel braided. No problem crossing here. Arrived at the station house about 4:30pm and was invited by the cook to have tea with the owner and staff. The mutton and pudding were fantastic. I have set up camp on the lawn in front of the old disused homestead and strung a clothesline along the veranda. The lawn is so fine and soft that I can be assured of a comfortable sleep. The homestead is surrounded by all sorts of introduced trees; flowering cherries etc. The air is full of bird song. I cannot wait to hear what they will sound like at dawn. I am also looking forward to sleeping in, tomorrow morning. I have decided not to continue on with the third leg of the journey at this time so will finish it here. My ankles are very swollen and it would not be enjoyable to continue. Chris is due to pick me up tomorrow evening. No sandflies here but lots of sheep though you wouldn’t know it, the country is so vast!

Friday 16th (Day 14)

The weather once again warm and sunny and the birds started singing well before first light. Slept in, enjoyed breakfast sitting on the veranda in the sun, and socialised with Annette and Bryan, the cook and handyman. Took morning tea up to a guy working a paddock with a team of Clydesdales. He was down from the Waiarapa and is involved with the Clydesdale association along with the station manager and Fergus O’Connor of Nelson who he knows well. Filled in part of the afternoon climbing up onto a low knob to have a look around. Great without a pack on! Chris and Brian H arrived from Christchurch at about 5:30pm to pick me up. It took 2½ hrs to drive back to Christchurch. Pete and Ellie had kindly waited for me to arrive before we had dinner together. Tomorrow night, Pete is to celebrate his 50th birthday. I am a lot thinner than when I started out, having lost 4-5 kgs.

St Arnaud – Aickens (Dec 2004)

Summary

1st Evening Kerr Bay to Lakehead Hut 2.5 hrs 9 kms

Day 1 Lakehead Hut to West Sabine Hut 11 hrs 26 kms

Day 2 West Sabine Hut to Caroline Bivvy 10.5 hrs 20.5 kms

Day 3 Caroline Bivvy to Christopher Hut 8 hrs 29 kms

Day 4 Christopher Hut to Ada Hut 2.5 hrs 18.5 kms

Day 5 Ada Hut to Brass Monkey Bivvy 7.25 hrs 21 kms

Day 6 Brass Monkey Bivvy to Lucretia Hut 3 hrs 4 kms

Day 7 Lucretia Hut to Sylvia Flat 4 hrs 13 kms

Day 8 Sylvia Flat to Hope-Kiwi Lodge 7.5 hrs 28.5 kms

Day 9 Rest Day, Day Walk

Day 10 Hope-Kiwi Lodge to Hurunui No.3 Hut 8.5 hrs 29 kms

Day 11 Hurunui No.3 Hut to Loche Stream Hut 8.5 hrs 14.5 kms

Day 12 Loche Stream Hut to Kiwi Hut 2 hrs 8.5 kms

Day 13 Kiwi Hut to Aickens Railway Siding 8 hrs 20 kms

The Diary

Friday 10th (Day ½)

Pam dropped me off at Kerr Bay after work. I threw the pack on and headed up the track to Lakehead Hut at 8:30pm. Due to the weight of the pack, I have left behind the tent and am just carrying a fly. It still weighs 25/26kg! The plan is to walk in the dark tonight so I can get a head start tomorrow. ½ way up the lake, as it’s starting to darken in the bush, I hear someone up ahead calling “help me”. From where I am, it sounds like a guy to my right down on the lakeside. I keep walking and determine that the guy is ahead of me as he is still calling out. Prior to hearing this guy, I had passed another bloke who had told me that he had a companion who was very slow, and had got sick of waiting for him. I arrived just as it was getting properly dark to the place where this guy was calling out. He was a young American chap and other bloke’s companion, who didn’t have a torch! He could see the lights of St Arnaud down the lakeside. Well I didn’t have a torch that I could spare and his mate was getting further away by the minute. He had no other gear, so I decided that I had no choice but to drop my pack and walk him out to Kerr Bay. It would mean that it would be very late before I got to Lakehead. I started walking this guy out, and boy he was slow! Luckily for me, after going for 10-15mins, his companion turned up and I was pleased to be rid of them and continue on my way. I think I got to Lakehead Hut at about 11pm and jumped straight in the sack. There was one other fisherman in the hut.

Saturday 11th (Day 1)

Departed Lakehead hut at 8:30am,arrived at Hopeless Creek after 2hrs and then it was another 1hr to John Tait hut. Lunched at John Tait, then it was another 2hrs to Upper Travers hut. The heavy snow this winter has caused avalanche damage to the bush below Upper Travers. The track has had to be rerouted around the fallen bush. The old Upper Travers hut has been removed and replaced by a large sterile people mover! I had no desire to stay here so after a quick snack, I headed off for West Sabine hut. I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take, but was expecting up to 5hrs. It took 1 ½ hrs to reach Travers Saddle and a further 2 ½ hrs to reach West Sabine hut. The steep descent off the saddle caused some pain in my knees. Not good on day 1 of a 14 day walk! Arrived at hut at 7:30pm. The hut was quite full and included a group of Adventurer scouts. I had a long chat with the leaders, whom it turned out were hunters who had similarly spent time on Stewart Island. Weather fine and cool. There is a lot of snow about the tops.

Sunday 12th (Day 2)

Departed hut at 8:20am, crossed the river opposite the hut and headed for Blue Lake Hut. There is much avalanche damage on this section of the track. The creek that one normally crosses before the climb to Blue Lake is completely covered in avalanche snow. What a contrast to my other visits to this area. Arrived Blue Lake after 2-¼ hrs. The weather forecast for the next 24hrs was good, so I decided to cross Waiau Pass today. I met up with the scout group here, as they had left earlier than I. They had seen a nice stag in the scrub on top of the bluffs above Blue Lake. Departed Blue Lake at 11:25am and arrived at the pass after 3 ½ hrs. I sidled around the bluffs on the western side of Lake Constance and was surprised at how high I had to climb. The climb to the saddle is straight forward though steep. I took lots of photos before heading down the Waiau side. I could not see any track markers leading down, so I made my own way until picking up the route further down. There is a lot of snow about and no sign of Lake Thompson. I decided that it would not be safe to climb Thompson Pass in these conditions, so I will head down the Waiau to Caroline Bivvy. Stopped at 5pm beside the creek below Waiau pass and brewed up. Whilst there, I caught a glimpse of a chamois crossing the snow above me. Arrived at Caroline Bivvy at 7pm. On the flat just above the bivvy, watched a deer out feeding until I spooked it. 3 people were camped at Caroline, but no one was in the bivvy, so I had it to myself. They were heading for Waiau Pass and were pleased to know that I had come through it. Their intention was to tackle the 3 tarns pass back at Ada Hut and cross into the West Matakitaki. However they did not like the conditions on the pass.

Monday 13th (Day 3)

Departed Caroline Bivvy at 9:15am. Stopped at 12:30pm for lunch. It was a monotonous walk down the river flats. I got the GPS out and found that the Lake Guyon Hut was only 2.8kms away, so I headed that way after lunch. (I had left my maps behind because I had put them in my tent bag, which I left at home. Luckily I had preloaded all the waypoints into the GPS) Lake Guyon hut was full of hunters gear, but I made use of the long drop before heading off again. It’s a nice setting at Lake Guyon and it would have been a good spot to stop. I next planned to spend the night at the old cullers hut past Christopher Hut, but when I got to Christopher, I was that tired, I decided to stop there. The hut was empty when I arrived at 5:15pm. I have come along way in 3 days. A dad and son from Wellington arrived a little later. During the night, a mouse had got into my pack liner. What a noise they make!

Tuesday 14th (Day 4)

I left Christopher Hut at 9:30am and arrived at Ada Hut at noon. I plan to stay here tonight so I won’t need to carry the heavy pack any more today. I had some lunch, and then headed off with a daypack for 3-tarn pass, which I reached easily after 2-¾ hrs. Without a heavy pack on, one feels like one is floating on air! It took 1 ½ hrs to return to Ada Hut. Weather fine and clear. What an enjoyable afternoon I have had. I will be sharing the hut tonight with 2 DOC workers. I got a weather forecast from them predicting that Thursday will be wet. Therefore, I will head for Lucretia/Brass Monkey tomorrow.

Wednesday 15th (Day 5)

I departed Ada at 8:10 and marched straight to Lewis Pass. Arrived after 2¾ hrs. Stopped for an early lunch, and then headed for the Lewis tops at 12:15pm. It took 1hr to get to the bush line and 7¼ hrs total to Brass Monkey Bivvy. I managed to get cell phone coverage off Springs Junction, so I made contact with Mum Ching to say that all is well. I got the GPS out to find the direction to Brass Monkey, and looked over in that direction and saw the orange colour in the distance. It started drizzling within 30 mins of arriving and the mist rolled in, but I am warm and snug inside. Some kind person had left behind Backcountry Cuisine, so that was tea. I read Hilary’s account of his Everest climb.



Thursday 16th (Day 6)

I woke to rain and wind, so I spent the time reading FMC mags. An interesting article about river crossing and riding your pack if you get swept away. I left the bivvy at 1:30pm and although it was still raining and blowing, I wanted to get to Lucretia today, and although it is only 3km away as the crow fly, it does involve climbing up to pt1602 and a bluffy descent into Lucretia Stream. The weather cleared as I started my descent down a creek east of pt1602. Going was OK except for one small section where I had to climb down a bluff to bypass a waterfall. The bluff had trees on it luckily. The head of the valley is very bluffed. Arrived at Lucretia Hut at 4:30pm. I love these old bivvies with their open fireplaces.

Friday 17th (Day 7)

It drizzled and rained through the night, although not heavily. The creek was up a little. I left the hut at 11:15am, and followed the track on the true right of the stream. About ½ way down I had to cross to the true left, and although the creek was carrying a lot more water than back at the hut, the crossing turned out to be OK. What with the drizzle and wet bush, it was good that I had my waterproofs on. Some water got into the bottom of the pack but it didn’t cause any problems. A lot of broadleaf beside the track, so I assume animal numbers are low in the area. Some sign of Chamois on the tops. I arrived at Palmer Lodge (NZDA) at about 2:30pm, had lunch and walked for ½ an hour down the main road down to Sylvia Flat hot pool. I spent 2 hours soaking, before leaving my pack there and heading off to the Boyle to see if my food parcel had arrived. (Pam had put it on a Nelson to Christchurch minibus this same day.) As no one was about at the outdoor education centre, I returned to Sylvia Flat and setup my fly camp and had tea. Then it was back to the hot pools for another hour before I retired to bed.

Saturday 18th (Day 8)

I got up at 8:00am to find snow on the surrounding hills down to 800m and drizzly rain. I had been warm in the sleeping bag, but it was soaking wet on the outside due to condensation. I had made the mistake of sleeping inside my plastic survival bag! I packed up the damp gear and headed off to the Outdoor Centre, arriving at 9:00am. Bill the caretaker was there when I arrived, so sorted out my supplies and had breakfast. (Yeah, toast!) I chatted with Bill, tried to contact Pam, but got no answer so Bill promised to ring in the evening. I departed at 12:15pm, walked 8km down the road and crossed the bridge leading to the Hope – Kiwi track. I arrived at the half way shelter at 4:30pm and 1 ¾ hrs later at the Hope-Kiwi Lodge. The rained had eased in the afternoon and although damp, I was warm. The Hope-Kiwi Lodge is built like a school lodge, 2 big bunkrooms, large tables and bench space, meat safe and stacks of dry firewood for the large space heater. I spent time washing and drying my clothes and gear. Tea included meat and fruit. (No wonder the pack was heavy again) It is now 11:45pm, so it’s time to brush my teeth and go to bed. Tomorrow, I might take a daypack and go exploring on the tops. I need to spend another night here to eat some weight out of the pack! The stars are shining brightly outside.

Sunday 19th (Day 9)

A late start today, had breakfast at 10:00am. Weather fine and sunny. I departed at 11:15am with a daypack and climbed east to pt1387, and then to pt1604, before returning via pt1555. I didn’t get to Mt Emmerson, as it was blowing and cold up higher. It took 3 ¼ hrs to get to 1700m, and I arrived but at the lodge at 4:00pm. Nice walk though and I got some good pictures of the surrounding country, including Lake Sumner and Harper Pass. Not long after I arrived back, a squall of rain came through and the wind picked up again. Late lunch was scrambled eggs and toast. Tea will be steak. I shampooed my hair and it feels great. I have been the only person here, not bad for a place that accommodates 24 people.

Monday 20th (Day 10)

I departed Hope-Kiwi Hut at 9:30am and arrived at the Hurunui Hut after 4-¾ hrs. I did side trips into Lake Marion (1/2hr) and the lookout (5 mins). I also walked around in circles for a few mins trying to find the track at 3 Mile stream. (The swing bridge had been removed) I also missed the swing bridge over the Hurunui River, so ended up crossing it above Hurunui Hut and approaching it from behind. I had a 1hr lunch break there, and then walked for 1hr up to the hot pool. The pool is right beside the track and has a concrete edging around it to increase the depth. There is room for 2 people lying down. I spent 1 ½ hrs in the pools, and was then going to setup camp there. However, it started spitting at 6:30pm, so I decided to carry on to Hurunui No.3 Hut. I left the pools at 7pm and arrived at No.3 hut just after 8:00pm. The place had 9 people in it, the first to have people in it since Ada Hut. They were 2 families from Christchurh who were heading to the Boyle for Xmas.

Tuesday 21st (Day 11)

I was up for breakfast at 8:00am, and then I went for a walk across the river flat to have a look at a waterfall that I had heard roaring throughout the night. I got damp in the process but it was worth the look. I returned to the hut for a cuppa and read whilst waiting for the rain to ease off. I was pleased that I had decided to stay in the hut as it had rained steadily all night. I eventually left the hut at 12:15pm in light rain, and arrived at the Harper Bivvy at 2:30pm where I lunched in the dry. It then took me 35mins to reach Harper Pass. The descent down into the Taramakau was reasonably steep in places. I arrived at Locke Stream Hut after 2-¼ hrs. Loche Stream hut is a lovely hut that was built in1940 out of timber milled at the site and trimmed with an adze. DOC has subsequently restored it since then. There is plenty of firewood and a lovely open fireplace so I’ll be lighting a fire and boiling lots of hot water and drying clothes etc.

Wednesday 22nd (Day 12)

I have time up my sleeve, so I have made it a short walking day. I left Locke at 10:35am and walked to Kiwi Hut in 2hrs after crossing the Taramakau 3 times. I lunched at Kiwi Hut, and whilst there, decided to stay the night so I could spend the day cleaning up. Kiwi Hut must be on DOC’s “no maintenance” list, as it appears to be very neglected. I’m hoping that if people find it clean and tidy, they may keep it that way? The place has an open fireplace, and dry firewood. So that is what I did, as well as stock the wood shed. The day remained cloudy and misty, with occasional light rain. Just before dark, I went down to the river flats to see if I could see any animals about. None showed. No mountains have been visible since crossing the main divide.

Thursday 23rd (Day 13)

I left Kiwi Hut at 10:30 and walked up the Otehake River to the gorge. On the way, I said gidday to a couple of young hunters camped on the lower flat. At the gorge I climbed a track up the spur on the true right, thinking initially that it sidled pass the gorge. However it continued climbing so I realised it was not the route to the hot pools. I did however get a good view looking down on Lake Kaurapataka. I dropped back down to the river and walked up through the gorge. The last river crossing at the top of the gorge was waist deep and fairly swift. About my limit I would think, but the wash out was OK so it wouldn’t have mattered if I did get swept downstream. I arrived at the hot springs at 1:30pm. The springs are in the middle of a dry riverbed, the water was lovely and warm and crystal clear. They are the best springs I have been in to date and no one else was about. The large pool was warm, and there was a smaller hotter one. I soaked for 2-½ hrs, lunched and then headed off at 5:30pm. I returned via the track on the true left that sidled through the gorge and arrived at the head of Lake Kaurapataka after 1hr. It was another 1 ½ hrs to the Taramakau flats and a further 1hr to the track end. I passed through an area of large beech trees beside Lake Kaurapataka. Out on the river flats, the track was very swampy in places and not well marked. I decided to cross the Otira River today in case it rains heavily tonight and becomes uncrossible. There is a basic shelter on the east side of the Otira river, but nothing at the car park. I walked up the road and stopped the night at the old Aickens railway siding. The place is half rotted away but it did provide a dry place to sleep. Unfortunately it was only 3m from the track, so when a train passed, the whole place shook with a thunderous noise.

Friday 24th (Day 14)

Not much sleep was had last night. There must have been a train every couple of hours. I walked back down to the track car park and waited for the bus. Chris is coming over on the same bus today. The day is still overcast, but the sun did briefly show it's self. That is the first time I have seen the sun since the Hurunui hot pools. The bus duly arrived, I settled into the only seat left, and it was off to Hokitika to meet up with Pam and Phillip, and to enjoy lunch and a beer. We will all then head off to Fox Glacier to see Steph for Xmas.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Erewhon to Haast (Jan 2008)

Summary

1st Evening Erewhon Station to Rangitata Riverbed 7.5 kms

Day 1 Rangitata to North East Gorge 12 hrs 20 kms

Day 2 North East Gorge to Old Waterfall Hut Site 6.5 hrs 18 kms

Day 3 Old waterfall hut Site to Rankin's Hut 10 hrs 13 kms

Day 4 Rankin's Hut to Ailsa Stream 8.5 hrs 17 kms

Day 5 Ailsa Stream to Liebig Hut 7 hrs 8kms

Day 6 Liebig Hut to Camp below Caroline Hut 8 hrs 14 kms

Day 7 Camp below Caroline Hut to Copeland Shelter 10 hrs 9 kms

Day 8 Rest Day

Day 9 Copeland Shelter to Welcome Flat Hut 6.75 hrs 14.5 kms

Day 10 Welcome Flat Hut to Cassel Hut 8 hrs 27.5 kms

Day 11 Cassel Hut to Christmas Flat Hut 9 hrs 12 kms

Day 12 Christmas Flat Hut to Rubicon Biv Rock 10 hrs 12.5 kms

Day 13 Rubicon Biv Rock to Zora Creek 10 hrs 12.5 kms

Day 14 Zora Creek to Fraser Hut 8.5 hrs 19 kms

Day 15 Rest Day Day Walk

Day 16 Fraser Hut to Pleasant Flat/Road 11 hrs 30.5 kms

Diary

30 Dec 2007, Sunday

My son Chris took me down to the Rangitata from Nelson. Unfortunately, he took out his sump and a few other essential bits when we unexpectedly hit a ford opposite Mt Sunday. He stopped straightaway when he saw the oil light flick on. We walked up to Erewhon Station and rang the AA for a tow truck. Luckily he had only just joined the AA the week before! The tow truck arrived within a few minutes of us arriving back at the car. Can't complain about the service. Having seen Chris and the car off to Christchurch, I set off across the riverbed with a fully laden pack of 29kg and setup camp about 1km south of Mt Sunday. Weather warm and sunny.

31 Dec 2007, Monday (Day 1)

Up at 0530 and heading off at 0620. Weather overcast but warm. I'm keen to get the river crossing out of the way so skip breakfast until I get to Mount Black hut. I don't know what to expect and can't hear the river from this distance. The Internet had shown the river running low so I'm optimistic that I can cross, but still a bit hesitant. As a solo tramper, I can't use anyone else for support! I don't cross any significant channels prior to coming upon the main channel. I walk upstream a little way and come to a point where the river looks OK. The water is reasonably clear so I can see the bottom, which is always a bonus. The depth turns out to be about 150mm below crutch level, but the flow is quite fast. I make it across with out incident but it required concentration and patience. I am pleased to have that behind me. What would I do without my walking stick for support?

I have breakfast at the hut; leave my intentions and head away at 0815.

The going up the lower part of Alma Stream is straight forward enough as it turns out there is a fairly well worn track and some flagging tape. Reach "Camp Rock" at 1100 and after a quick snack, away again at 1115. I stop at the last water point and fill my bottles. (And add 1.5kg to the pack in the process!) At this point I am about to ascend into the cloud so I get out the GPS to get a direction and distance. I am 2.2kms and need to head due west. Visibility is only 100 -150m so I follow the compass. Some time later I recheck the GPS, still west and still 800m. I plod on under the burden of a heavy pack. After what seems like ages, and not wanting to climb a scree slope up the side of Mt Alma, I check the GPS again. This time west; 143m. I'm on track. I finally reach the Alma Col at 1530, that last 800m particularly slow. At the col, the view west is in brilliant sunshine, but in contrast, the view back down Alma stream is completely misty! I snap a few photos and move on at 1545.

The going down Trojan Stream is straight forward enough and I reach my camping spot in NE Gorge just below Chevalier Stream at 1820. At the bottom of Trojan, I sight 4 Thar in the main riverbed about 150m distant. I take some photos, and then sight a group of 10 further down stream. This group feed there way up the scree slope as I setup camp. As it has been a 12-hour day, I decide that tomorrow I will not cross the mountain range into the Macaulay as planned, but do the riverbed route.

1 Jan 2008 Tuesday (Day 2)

I didn't see the New Year in, having slept well after a long day yesterday. The first day of the New Year dawned fine and warm. Started off downstream on the true right, easy going at first but it got tougher where the river gorges. Was finally able to cross to the true left just before Two Thumb stream and it was easier going again on grassed terraces. In hindsight, stick to the TR until the river gorges, cross to the TL and stay on that side until you reach the Macaulay. Left camp at 0815 arrived Macaulay at 1245. Picked up the 4WD track and made quick time up to the old Waterfall Hut site, arriving at 1445. Setup camp nearby and spent the afternoon relaxing for a harder day tomorrow.

2 Jan 2008 Wednesday (Day 3)

Another warm fine day. Up at 0545, and on my way at 0655. The route up Waterfall Creek is easy and I reached the saddle between Pt's 2352 & 2320 at 1125. Snapped a few more photos and off again at 1140. Now the tricky bit! The route from the saddle into a hung basin was easy. However, I ended up cutting down through bluffs to the point where the North Branch fans out into the Godley. Luckily I didn't get bluffed but it got close in a couple of places. I should have regained the spur leading out to the front faces and dropped down there. Alternatively, a better saddle would have been the one between Pt's 2297 & 2228. This would have allowed me to drop easily into the North Branch riverbed, then follow the river out. The river narrows lower down, so it may not be a route when the river is high?

Anyway, I arrived at the riverbed at 1530, and at Rankin's Hut at 1700. The Godley was running milky and wasn't cross-able as a single channel, but by choosing a braided part about 1km upstream, easily managed a knee-deep crossing. Nice views of the Maud Glacier from Rankin's Hut.

3 Jan 2008, Thursday (Day 4)

Another fine warm day with quite a brisk wind blowing down the Godley and up Rankin Stream. This assisted me climb the lower reaches of Rankin. A very easy climb to the pass, with a steady gradient on tussock the whole way except for only 1/2 hour of stable scree at the end. There is a great camping spot with water 1/2 hour below the pass. Couldn't see the water in the moraine lake as I passed, but could see it from the other side of the Godley! Left Rankin's Hut 0720, arrived at pass at 1120. It was blowing a gale at the pass but in the opposite direction to that in the Godley. The south faces of Mt Hutton and the Huxley Glacier provided a brilliant vista from the pass. Relatively easy going down the Cass, arriving at Memorial hut at 1520. This is a private hut so I signed the visitor’s book, and headed of to setup camp in the bottom of Ailsa Stream.

1 Thar sited in Rankin Stream and a group of 9 in the Cass opposite Rutherford Stream.

The body is coping well at the moment, with only chaffing on the hips and lower back. Am very pleased with the new Macpac Cascade pack. I should have retired the old Hallmark years ago.

4 Jan 2008, Friday (Day 5)

Weather fine and warm again with clear sky. Left camp at 0730 and spied 1 Thar within 20min. This one didn't hang around like the others, probably due to easily accessible hunting pressure. Once again an easy steady climb up to Ailsa Pass, reaching it after 4 3/4 hours. And what a magnificent view from the pass. SSE looks through the Jollie Saddle out to Lake Pukaki in the distance. West across the Murchison Valley to the Malte Brun Range and of course the Main Divide and the dominant peak of Mt Sefton. But the one that filled the panorama was obviously Mt Cook. I couldn't at that moment think of a better place to be, especially given the fine warm windless weather. Helicopters were also making the most of the weather, with at least 1/2 dozen landing on the Liebig Range while I was at the saddle, not more than 1 km away. I had cell phone coverage, so was able to touch base with Pam and the kids.

A short and straightforward descent to Liebig Hut saw me arriving there within 2 hrs of leaving the pass. The afternoon was spent washing self and clothes and resting. I noted that manawahinewalk.com passed through here on 7/1/07.

5 Jan 2008, Saturday (Day 6)

WOW what a fantastic day. Once again weather perfect. Slept very well last night probably because of the mattress. Up at 0545, away at 0700. The Murchison River didn't pose a problem, being only knee deep at most, although it did involve 6 separate channels. It only took 2 hrs to get down to the Tasman moraine, as the Murchison riverbed is mostly composed of fine gravels, which made for fast walking.

Getting onto the Tasman Glacier was easy on the eastern side and includes a nice camping spot by a small clear lake. The glacier at this point is covered in rock and gravels and proved more stable than I had thought it would been. It took 3 1/4 hrs to cross the glacier and climb the moraine wall on the other side. DOC had told me to climb the moraine wall above Ball Shelter, but I actually climbed below it, and it wasn't a problem at all. I arrived at Ball Shelter at 1215. It was amazing how many spider webs I saw strung between the rocks on the glacier. The hardest part of the crossing was trying to walk around them all! Crossing the glacier reminded me of being in a small boat, rising and falling as I travelled through a swell of rock and ice.

I then proceeded to climb the Ball Pass track and arrived at a camping spot 30 Min's below Caroline Hut, at 1500. The camp is in a hollow, so should be reasonably sheltered from the worst of any winds. I am also opposite the Caroline face of Mt Cook, where I am entertained by the continual thunderous crashes of ice falling onto the Ball Glacier.

Could get 2 bars of signal on the cell phone but couldn't send a text. Picked up a weather report at Caroline Hut's emergency shelter. Predicting good tomorrow but Monday will be wet and windy. I will make for the Copeland Shelter tomorrow at the least. I made the mistake of leaving the tent unattended for several hours. On the way back to it I suddenly thought KEAS! To my surprise, they hadn't been near it!

6 Jan 2008, Sunday (Day 7)

It turned out to be a very calm night with a slightly cooler morning. Away tramping at 0700 and within a few minutes got to see a good avalanche on the Caroline Face. Arrived at Ball Pass at 0845. Had to use the crampons for the first time this trip, for the descent on the western side of the pass. I also dropped too low under Mt Rosa, so lost 1/2 hr climbing back up onto the track. Enjoyed going down the snowy gut beside the "playing fields", also requiring crampons. Arrived at the camping ground beside the Hooker at 1200. Overall I enjoyed the Ball Pass track and would highly recommend it. It is not well cairned, probably because the commercial guides remove them?

I climbed down the gut from the camping ground and crossed the Hooker, to arrive at the base of the Copeland track at 1310. I cut up the moraine wall midway between the two creeks onto the landing, cut left then climbed the 2ND half of the moraine wall to the only possible part of wall that could have got me onto the ledge above. When I got to this small gut I found the rope that made the only part of the climb that could have been difficult, easy. I was pleased to be above the moraine wall on the grass though. The going for the rest of the climb to the shelter was relatively straight forward and simply a matter of going up! It is well cairned where necessary. As I climbed, the wind kept increasing in intensity so any thoughts of actually getting over the pass to were soon dismissed. Clouds were also building up on the main ridge. I arrived at the shelter at 1700 any quite happy to stay there the night. When I got the weather forecast from the VHF radio sched, I thought that I would probably be here 2 nights at least.

I was expecting a hot dehydrating ascent during the afternoon, but the blustery wind actually kept me comfortable without actually sweating, except for the last 5 Min's below the shelter when I started to get cold. I went and collected snow to melt for water and on the way back to the shelter saw the water tank on the back of the building! There is no toilet at the Copeland shelter, so I made my first "poo sausage". Once again I had cell phone coverage so was able to contact home etc. As I have made good progress to date and given the long-term weather forecast, I made the decision to continue the tramp onto Pleasant Flat via the Karangarua and Landsborough. So I organised a food drop at the end of the Copeland Track and a pickup date at Pleasant Flat.

7 Jan 2008 Monday (Day 8)

Went to bed at 2100, rose today at 1000! Wet and windy outside in the morning, then the weather eased early afternoon. Was tempted to get on my way again but decided to stay put and make it a full rest day. (Also some of the side creeks on the western side before Douglas Rocks hut would probably be uncrossable?) Later a SW change with blustery winds and drizzle, though visibility not too bad. I feel somewhat guilty for staying put, and will be more so if the weather is bad tomorrow as well. However the forecast for tomorrow is for improvement. Read an old reader's digest inside out then started on Danielle Steele's "Wings".

8 Jan 2008 Tuesday (Day 9)

As the weather has improved, I'm up at 0530 and out the door at 0630. There is still a bit of wind around but the east side of the range is clear. The snow is firm so on with the crampons again. The short steep ascent to the ridge takes me about 30 Min's. I go to the spot that a guide on Ball Pass told me was the saddle at the northern end. Well when I look over the ridge I say "No way am I going down there". Out comes the GPS and it indicates about 30m south. I head back there and hey presto, looks a lot easier. After a few photos and one last text to Pam, I head of at 0730 into the mist down the western side. I trip over my crampons on the scree, and lose my walking stick in the process; it slides about 5m down the slope. As I pick myself up, I dislodge a netball-sized rock, which bounces down the slope and glances my stick. Luckily it doesn't snap it in 1/2. I have gotten rather fond of my piece of nei nei. Luckily the mist cleared from time to time so I could see where to head. Some blue sky showed above so I knew the day would turn out OK. Picked up the cairned track in due course on the true left and followed this well worn track down to Douglas Rocks Hut, arriving at 1100. A couple of Keas welcomed me into the valley with their noisy squawking.

It was nice to be back on the west coast. What a contrast to the east; hot and dry vs. cool and damp, brown and stunted vs. green and lush, rocks dry and grippy vs. wet and slippery. Further down the valley it became very warm and humid. The side creeks had gone down, but they would not have been cross able yesterday. I was drenched when I reached Douglas Rock, not from rain but from the wet undergrowth. I was very pleased to rid myself of the poo sausages into the loo as well! After a 10 min stop, I head off and arrive at welcome Flat at 1315. I am dry by this time, all clouds have gone with a pleasant warm breeze blowing. It’s not long before I'm soaking in the hot pools, but they're very hot so I don't linger. I pay the $15 hut fee with the credit card. By evening, a lot of trampers have turned up so the hut is quite full. There is a group here from the Wellington Tramping and Mountaineering Club. From the smell outside the window, it's clear that the septic tank isn't coping! Maybe my poo sausage wasn't so bad after all!

9 Jan 2008 Wednesday (Day 10)

Up at 0545, soaked in the pools till 0600 and up and away at 0700. It takes 2 3/4 hrs to reach the Karangarua and arrive at SH6 at 1100. I walked out with a couple of guys from the WTMC and they offered to give me a ride into Fox Glacier if my food drop hasn't arrived. I have a quick look for it and can't see it so I take up their offer. Well then I see my daughter Stephanie at Fox, the first thing she said to me is "What are you doing here, I dropped your food off 2 days ago!" She was doing a split shift that day so she was having a long lunch hour. She took me back down to the Copeland after I managed to squeeze in a quick beer. We then had to play a game called "Find the food box". It was there all right.

After gorging myself on tinned food. and restocking my pack, I head off up the south side of the Karangarua. It takes me 4 1/4 hrs to reach Cassel Hut. The track in is getting overgrown, but it is well marked. There are 2 people in the hut, both trampers and 1 turns out to be Aaron Whitehead who did his own traverse last summer. He gave me some good route information. I will see these guys in a couple of day’s time as they will head into the Douglas (Twain) then onto the Karangarua via Douglas Pass. I feast some more on hut food and the other guy's leftovers, which include fresh veges! Yum.

10 Jan 2008 Thursday (Day 11)

A fine day again. Away from Cassel Hut at 0720. It takes me 5 1/2 hrs to get to the old Lame Duck site. It is a beautiful spot by the river so I stop for a 1 hr lunch break. The track to here is well marked but getting overgrown. It climbs high above the gorge, through bluffs, then drops back to the main river. This country is made up of solid rock, and all side creeks have eaten channels into the rock. There are no boulders! The next stage to Christmas Flat Hut is more scrubby and harder, taking another 3 1/2 hrs for 3 1/2 kms. Track is mostly well marked, but in need of a damn good prune. Christmas Flat is a lovely spot right in the head of the valley with views to the Karangarua Saddle and Mt Howit and has a backdrop of rugged bluffy mountains. I spooked a Thar at less than 4m about 45 mins above Lame Duck, followed a few minutes later by a Chamois.

Christmas Flat Hut is warm and sunny and well stocked with food. (Thanks hunters) I have another feast comprising of corned beef, baked beans and sausages, and creamed rice. And to finish off, a generous nip of 12 year old scotch whisky.

11 Jan 2008 Friday (Day 12)

Another warm, calm clear day. Rose at 0550 and left hut at 0710. I walked up the main creek to where it forks below Mt Howit, then cut straight up the tussock face toward Howit. This avoided bush bashing except where I had to climb around 3 large rocks. Mist rolled in after 3 1/2 hrs, but still managed to get some photos and direction when it rolled back briefly. Arrived on the top of Howit after 4 1/2 hrs. At one stage I peered over the ridge into the Landsborough. What a shock, almost straight down to the riverbed. made worse by the spooky misty conditions. Arrived on top of Gladiator after 6 hrs. I couldn't see into the lower Douglas but I could hear the thunderous crashing of ice off the Douglas Glacier presumably. A straightforward route into the Landsborough via Howit and Gladiator, but a bit of a grunt to climb out of the Karangarua. Some neat looking crevasses on Maori Glacier. Spooked a Thar heading down to Douglas saddle and met up with the Cassel Hut trampers going the opposite way. Arrived in the valley floor under the Karangarua saddle after 8 hrs and reached Rubicon Biv rock just under 2 hrs later. (Time all up today, just under 10 hrs) The biv rock is on a sunny terrace on the TL just before Rubicon Torrent. It's dry from above but I suspect water flows across the floor in wet weather. Water is only 4 mins away to the north.

12 Jan 2008 Saturday (Day 13)

Day started cloudy and mild with a slight northerly breeze. It has been a long slow trudge down to Zora. Left biv at 0725, arrived at campsite below Zora at 1725. 10 hrs of boulder hopping and bush bashing to get around large boulders and slips etc. I have stuck to the TL, which is not the easiest route, but it does ensure that I am on the correct side of the river for getting out to the road. The TR is recommended as the easier (quicker) route in the upper section, but does require crossing to the TL at least 2 hrs below Zora. Light drizzle set in, then eased, then set in again. Walking clothes all wet, but I now dry and warm in the tent. My knees, quads and feet are feeling a bit sore tonight. The river drops about 600m over the 12.5 odd kms between Rubicon and Zora. The river is particularly picturesque around The Sentinel.

Only 2 days to the road now, so if it's wet in the morning, I might just sleep in! No animals sighted but plenty of sign in the river sand and bush. Lovely beech forest in the Landsborough, and no matagouri!

13 Jan 2008 Sunday (Day 14)

I couldn't get to sleep that quickly last night due to a throbbing pain in my little toe. I have got an infection under the toenail. (It lifted on the first day of my tramp). Otherwise the ground was soft and comfortable. Slept in til 0700, donned wet clothes and away at 0825. The first 2 hrs same rugged terrain as yesterday, then picked up beeched terraces which made it easier going to McKerrow. At McKerrow, I picked up a marked cut track used for a stoat trap line and covered the next 4 km in an hour. The track continued all the way to Fraser Hut. At Toetoe Flat, I pass a tent city with electricity that presumably belongs to one of the rafting companies. I arrive at Fraser Hut at 1700. (7 1/2 hrs walking time) The day has been light drizzle on and off all day. Plenty of fresh deer sign about, though nothing seen. Fraser hut is nothing flash, but it’s dry and has an open fireplace. (and plenty of dry wood)

I'm clean again and the clothes are drying. I treat my infected toe with iodine. As I am not due out til Thursday, I will have a rest day tomorrow and take a look at the Brodrick Pass track without a pack on!

14 Jan 2008 Monday (Day 15)

Weather overcast and drizzly. When up and flagged some of the Brodrick track. Steady rain set in after I got back at 1400. Spent the rest of the day reading. The rain eased in the evening, but the river has come up quite a bit. I note that a lot of visitors to Fraser Hut do a loop from Ohau via Brodrick and Elcho Passes.

15 Jan 2008 Tuesday (Day 16)

No rain in the night and the river has dropped considerably. I'm up at 0530 and away at 0700 after replenishing the wood supply. I followed the rivers edge for the first hour, before picking up the trappers track again and following it down to Harper's Flat. It took 1/2 hr to climb onto the top of Harper's Bluff, arriving there after 5 1/2 hrs since setting out. The day is sunny and breezy, so the bush has dried out and the raincoat comes off. I hear cicadas for the first time this season as I make my way down from the bluff. They must be enjoying the sun too. Stopped for lunch after 6 1/4 hrs at the creek below Harper's Flat. I almost fall to sleep in the warm sun. However I must carry on as I have a long way to walk, so away at 1415. By 1545 I'm on top of Strutt Bluff. There's a sign there that says "Track closed. Sorry for the inconvenience". Well I thought that the track was one of the better ones! By 1630 I arrive at the end of the 4WD track below Strutt Bluff. I remove gaiters, leggings and shake all the twigs and leaves out of my clothes before heading of again at 1645. I finally arrive at Pleasant Flat at 1915, tired but glad to be here after 11 walking hrs and 15 days of walking. I setup camp and head off to the river for a cold-water wash.

16 Jan 2008 Wednesday (Day 17)

Fine and sunny. Up at 0800, the clothesline is put up and the clothes are airing and drying. And finally the sandflies have found me. The road is busy and every second car seems to stop here and photograph Mt Hooker at the head of the Clarke. It's also a popular camping spot. In the evening I go for a stroll up the road to where the Burke joins the Haast. That will probably be my starting point next year.

17 Jan 2008 Thursday (Day 18)

It started to rain in the night and has rained since. It's got very boring waiting, but Stephanie finally arrives on cue just after noon. We drive back to Fox Glacier in the pouring rain and on Friday I catch the Atomic shuttle back to Nelson.