Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Days 122-128: Richmond Range to Havelock

Day 122. Despite persistent light rain, the stream crossings of the Wairoa including the 'dreaded' waterfall chute were a doddle, helped by my experiences further down the South Island crossing and re-crossing Bush Stream, the Deception River etc etc. only 8 crossings? No worries!

The sidling was slippery but kept me alert and thinking all the way. Except for a lapse in concentration where I stepped onto a fungus-blackened beech root, slipped and had a good fall. A nicely-placed tree arrested my progress before I slid all the way down into the river, so I was pretty happy to get away with blackened and stained clothes!

I was at Mid Wairoa for lunch, but not before meeting Julie and Andrew, some of the few fellow Kiwis I've met doing the TA. A cheeky goat was grazing just outside the hut, safe in the knowledge that hunters would be elsewhere (?!).

Another fairly easy walk uphill 
and I was at Tarn Hut- the weather continued to worsen while I was trying to dry gear out, I decided to stay and get a fire going. A robin dropped in to investigate...

... And I went to see the tarn. Tadpoles galore, and it was NOT inviting. A bit eerie, actually!

I found Bear Grylls' 'Mud, Sweat and Tears' being used as a firelighter (I'm sure he would approve), so I got to read a chapter or two. This particular hut had very little in the way of reading material, so it was a nice partial find! My phone battery died today, and I found that I had not recharged my solar charger in St Arnaud! So I missed out on taking pictures of beautiful views the following day while my solar charger did its best with low light conditions.

Day 123. A real day for bird watching as I walked to Rintoul Hut. I saw my first long tail cuckoo! And robins, grey warblers, riflemen, silvereye, tomtits, bellbirds... I also met Martin, a young fellow who looked a bit shaken up- he told me he had probably 'bitten off more than I can chew' in the Richmond Range, having gotten soaked and hypothermic the day before. His gear looked ok and he still had enough food to walk out in my opinion, but he had obviously had a tough time. I pressed on and arrived at Rintoul Hut at 11am, and had an early lunch. The views walking over Purple Top were superb, but my iPhone was still down for the count. During lunch the rain squalls started and the wind picked up. I decided to call it a day so I would have better weather for my crossing of Mt Rintoul (I hoped!), and to give my charger time so I could operate my iPhone camera. Again, this hut had bugger all to read other than another Bear Grylls firelighter, thankfully a chapter remained that I hadn't read yet! At 3 pm I got the fire going, just in time for the first Southbound TA trampers! First down the hill were David and Pascal (from Germany), walking with Joe from the US. It was great to swap stories and gear talk, and I was fascinated by Joe's attempt to make a pizza from couscous!
Floris and Eve then arrived, also TA trampers, so for me it was one of the few times I stayed in a full hut and the first time I stayed In a hut entirely of TA trampers!
(The crew L-R: Joe, Pascal, me of course, Eve, Floris, David)

Good to meet you guys, happy trails for the rest of your TA journey!

Day 124. The weather was a little better, so I got going before it changed its mind...

The clouds piled up on one side of the hill, while it was beautifully clear and fresh on the other. I just loved the tops!
(Looking back down towards Rintoul Hut)

(Towards Little Rintoul)

Yes, a wee bit of scrambling required (ie using hands and feet to get up/down rock), but it was enjoyable! I'm glad I didn't go yesterday when the rock was wet and slippery though!

On the way to Starevall Hut I met another Kiwi TA tramper- Ryan Foley, rockin' an Aarn pack as well! Happy trails buddy.

(Some of the trail scrambles over these beautiful rock formations, with a massive drop to the river valley below- maybe 800m/2,400ft?)

After company last night it was strange to have the hut to myself!

For some reason I had cellphone reception problems so couldn't get in touch with people or check on weather... A quiet night!

Day 125. On to the Pelorus Track!
(Lots of windfall, mostly cleared from the track)

Hackett hut was disappointing as some idiots had defaced it! Grrrrrrrr.

I met two older hunters at the next hut, who were great guys. They offered fresh venison and backcountry meals even! Good on ya, gents. On towards Roebuck.
(Shortly after this shot I met a young Belgian guy doing an acclimatisation walk, and then a group of mountain bikers- a busy section!)

I was getting a bit low on energy...
... Then I heard the familiar call of kakas! I whistled one down and had a sing off competition with the curious parrot. I'm not sure who won, but he sounded a bit miffed as he flew away. That's  all I'm saying! Across a very inviting looking river to Roebuck hut. River swim!!!

That really perked me up! Oh look, a worm!

Day 126. Another night to myself. Then I ran into a bunch more TA trampers as I headed to Captain Creek. First, two Frenchmen by the names of Bernard and Olivier who traded some trail info with me. They also suggested I could get to Pelorus Bridge today... Hmmmm. But first, a robin to play with.

I then met two Kiwis (one introduced himself as Luke), and a Belgian. Luke had a vicious-looking spear which he was hoping would get him dinner! I decided to walk to Pelorus Bridge campsite... Hot and dusty, but worth it for a shower! :-)
Oh, for updated trail notes- Captains Creek is bridged!

A great campsite, and a cafe! Bliss.

It was a nice night chatting to Dutch, French, Aussie and Kiwi couples. The Dutch even gave me beer! Cheers!

Day 127. Farm and road walk into Havelock. An easy day really, with a refreshment stop in Canvastown.

By mid afternoon I was ensconced at the Blue Moon backpackers and happily stuffing my face with pies and wine, and meeting new friends. Finally managed to publish a new blog update. Sorry about the wait, folks.

Day 128. Zero day! Pies, food resupply, blog writing...
(This is what happens when you get a boatbuilder to design your motor home)

Another rest day tomorrow, then the last leg of my journey. I'm feeling a little sad about that, but also excitement about starting a new chapter in my life in Wellington! 

Please don't forget, this walk is for charity- give if you can, and spread the word! 


  1. Awesome blog! i will be starting in a few months also!

    1. Great to hear Tom, and thanks for the feedback. Happy trails!