Thursday, 28 November 2013

Days 76-82: Takitimu Forest to Lake Wakitipu

Day 76. After saying goodbye to Marcie and little Carmen who adopted me overnight, Fraser dropped me back to my start point for the day. Linton Station is huge! I quite enjoyed walking through it towards the mountains.

I also enjoyed reading the memorial for 'Dougie' Nunns, according to the plaque, he worked on Linton Station for 40 years and was a 'top bloke'. I liked that very much- you don't see too many memorials for trappers/bulldozer drivers! I was also impressed with the flying skills of one Top dressing pilot, who also managed to photobomb my selfie.

It was a bit of a mad scramble up a steep hill 
and down into a forest. It's not Everest, but I'll take it!
It had great views... Until mist blew in.

And once in the beech forest, it was obvious that this was a route less travelled!

I heard a screeching I had heard in Longwood, so I investigated. Turned out to be a NZ falcon, and this one was not impressed with my curiosity! I was dive-bombed a number of times until I retreated to a safe distance. I must have been near a nest? Anyway, no pics of that encounter! 

Around 5 pm I reached Lower Waikari hut which was tidily presented, with lots of firewood and clean inside (thanks to the last lot of hunters who came through earlier in the week, 'looking for Bambi' according to the hut book), but I chose to hammock camp outside.

I also wanted to cook with wood to save on meths fuel.
The caldera cone really works a treat, heating up a pint of water in about seven minutes (ok, no records set but who cares, I made fire!). Just white ash left over, and no sparks or embers. I would happily cook under my tarp with wood if it were raining! The smoke also seemed to keep the sandflies away for a time.

Oh, and because Chloe asked for it, here are some pics of my feet. They feel ok, actually, even if they look munted.

Day 77. I wasn't sure how far I would get today, all the timings given by both DOC and TAT seemed quite conservative. I found out why! Anyway, just your usual barely broken in beech forest track to begin... Lots of hopping over or crawling under fallen trees!

The track then meanders in and out of forest and open, boggy tussock country. Looks amazing, but it is hard going- no obvious trail, tussock is slippery and ankles roll easily, spinnifax (I think) shrubs are really difficult to fight through, and a number of times I had to backtrack. Hence the conservative track times....

At Lower Aparima hut I ran into a family, which surprised me a little as I hadn't seen anyone on the preceding days- but it is the weekend! I keep forgetting what day it is.... They were nice and chatty, keen to try out my Aarn pack and chat about upcoming sections. I got som good info! It was 2 pm by that point, and I had a lot of kms to complete if I wanted to reach Princhester hut! But my walking times today weren't up to the task, I stopped short around 6.30 to make camp. Before I did, I spotted a large red deer grazing, unaware I was nearby. I whistled , but it didn't startle! I didn't try to take a pic as you really need to be close to wildlife with this iPhone to get a decent shot. I found a campsite sheltered from the prevailing wind and a tui was singing nearby- always a good sign in my book!

BTW, does anyone know what this means? There's a massive triangle also, out of shot but doing the same thing I would have thought. Maybe someone had a lot of markers leftover and thought, oh well, shame to waste them...

Day 78.  Well, pretty much more of the same this morning, but I got to Princhester hut before lunch. Problem was that Kiwi Burn hut, the next one along, is 40 kms away! I did some recalculating and if I had a lazy day here I can still make Greenstone car park for my pickup on Thursday avo (I hope!). So I hunkered down in the hut...and a great spot at a road end!
...that's me after a nice bath in the nearby stream. I took the opportunity to do some laundry, cut some firewood for tonight and read some Otago Uni Tramping Club journals (called 'Antics', a good fun read!). I enclose a pic to illustrate the kind of humour in these- and very apt given my low tempo tramping day! (Warning: foul language :-)
So I set up for a lazy hut day, and basically ate all of my reserve food... Hope that doesn't come back to bite me!
Since I've been here, I've had a nice couple drop by in a little Toyota (yes, vehicle access), they even offered me a lift to Mavora lakes (a little tempted, I must admit!). Later on two girls on horseback rode by, followed eventually by two day hiker mums looking for two girls on horseback. 

Day 79. Rained pretty much all night, and I was greeted in the morning with cold wind, rain and mist. Looks amazing though, and I was thinking of the song from the Hobbit!
Walked a long way, mostly on road, met a southbound TA walker- Kerri? French I think, walking the South Island only and appears to have skipped bits as he has really only been walking a couple of weeks (or so he says).
The road was boring, and long but better I think than boggy, gorse-covered farmland track :-) so I was paralleling the 'real' TA trail by walking along Mavora Lakes Road (the TA also follows this road for a bit)
I eventually arrived at South Mavora Lake, crossed the swing bridge and set up on the Western side. It was beautiful, and I am very happy with the view from my hammock!

I found some interesting mushrooms- I assume a joke by someone?
Later that evening a robin dropped in, I was hoping to eat some of the sandflies...

Day 80. I didn't have as far to go today, so I had the luxury of a sleep in until 8.... The weather was improving, but still pretty cold this morning.
... But not cold enough to stop me having a swim and a bathe!
Shortly after I took this pic, a mountain-biking couple cycled by. Luckily I had got my briefs on by then!
The camping area here is awesome- probably worth the extra camping fee to stay at the actual campground if I were in the area again. But I was off to Boundary Hut for the night....'s a pic looking South onto North Mavora Lake/Hikurangi:

Anyway, Boundary and Greenstone huts are this way:

In short order (3pm) I was there, and bemused by the turnstile. 

Such a beautiful day, and hours of sunshine left. What to do? Into the river, of course! Scared away a large eel, got stung by something, and then sat around in the sun while waiting for clothes to dry.

Lucky no one dropped in unexpectedly. Anyway, still waiting for clothes to dry, wind is coming up so I will enjoy the sun while it lasts... Looks like wet weather ahead!

In my musings, the impermanence of man-made things here in this majestic environment caught my attention.

It's amazing how quickly physical things we have wrought, our reputations, or our personal stories can be subsumed. Whatever the Romans did wrong, they definitely got right leaving a legacy. And on that profound note, goodnight!

Day 81.
Another misty morning which improved throughout the day...


The Mavora trail meanders along through some spectacular countryside... I was for the most part go smacked!

As I understand it, this glacial valley is part of the Routeburn?

And as always, the trail surprises. For example for the first time, a fence with no stile. No worries, I'm plenty skinny enough to slip under!

Then, Greenstone hut- definitely the best yet! 
Joinin me for the night were Andréanne from Canada, Steve and Helen from NZ, Hilde from Netherlands, Mark from the UK, and the Hut Warden Eiji from Japan (really friendly and knowledgeable!). It was a fun crowd! Mark and Hilde work at Kinloch Lodge, and it didn't take much convincing for me to change my plans to stay here- it's just down the road from Greenstone car park, and they do pickup/drop offs! Plus the mention of a hot tub, good wine/beer, and the offer to mend my torn shirt may have played a part in my decision making! We played cards til later in the night then turned in...

Day 82. Another cracker of a day! It was a short but fun walk to the car park, although I had to get used to walking with others again for the morning. With this crew , it was fairly painless...
Well, MOSTLY painless. :-)

Toni from Kinloch Lodge picked us up and we were dared to jump in the lake. No worries. Is it cold?
Yes, it's cold.
On the plus side, it was refreshing, and my tramping gear got a rinse!

Shortly after that I was offered a lovely room and proceeded to demolish a great tasting burger and cider. I'm definitely in my happy place!

 I'm surprised Kinloch Lodge doesn't feature as an accommodation option for TA walkers- great location, away from Queenstown (a plus in my book), great food, friendly staff and a range of accommodation options. Did I mention the wine and beer menu? :-) Anyway, a really welcome find. My plan now is to travel through Queenstown tomorrow, see how far I can get- if I'm lucky /industrious it will be Arrowtown! Wish me luck...