Monthly Archives: May 2017

Mt Somers to Christchurch

Saturday 13th May
Time to pack up and head back to Christchurch.  Only a 3 hour hike and then a 2 hour drive back to Jucy Snooze to get organised to fly home in the morning. Can’t wait to see all my family  and friends. It is fantastic having a holiday but it is also nice to come home.

Well at least the day was brighter than yesterday. It was very cold but the sun was starting to shine through the clouds. We tidied up the hut and headed on our way. Lucky the heat in the hut managed to dry all our wet gear overnight. Off we went, I was on a bit of a go slow today, not sure if it was just so I could enjoy the time we had left longer. It was a good hike up to 1200m. We had a swing bridge to negotiate, it was very rickety and had a maximum load of 1 person. We only passed 3 guys with a young child in a back pack today and 1 girl yesterday. The views today were amazing, snow covered mountain peaks, forests, plains, beautiful clear skies and nooo rain thank goodness. Considering the amount of rain we had yesterday the track was quite good. There were only a few really slippery, muddy sections.

We finished the hike at about 1.30pm and then headed back to Christchurch. Just have to pack, as we have made quite a few purchases whilst we were here – backpack, sleeping bags, waterproof gear, stove, so we will have to rejig our bags to fit everything in. We went down to the communal kitchen and gave our food away to some backpackers who had just arrived here, then we went out for a nice dinner at SuRa Teppanyaki.

Anyway, see you all soon.

Mt Somers – Hike to Woolshed Hut

Friday 12th May
Well the plan was for one more adventure before we head home. Maybe one too many. We headed out to Mt Somers. The morning was cool and the sky started reasonably clear. We stopped at the iSite to buy our hut tickets (serviced hut $15 each), check the track condition and the weather. We were given the name of a lady who does transfers from the finish of the track to the start so we could do the whole distance one way. I gave her a call and she only charges $30 total for this service. This meant we could go from Sharplin Falls track via Pinnacles Hut to Woolshed Hut (6 hours 11.4km). And then tomorrow down to Woolshed carpark (3 hrs 5km). Prior to this we had decided we would just do the smaller loop track – Woolshed carpark to Woolshed hut via Miners track (3 hours 5 km) and return tomorrow via Mt Somers track (South face) and Rhyolite Ridge Track back to Woolshed carpark (3 hours 5.4km). DB was still thinking we would do the smaller loop track but I said to him “Come on have some adventure”. We tossed both ideas around and by the time we got to Mt Somers it was drizzling. Decision was made to just do the loop and be happy with that as our adventure. We donned I out wet weather gear and off we headed. As we started to go up we realised how much our legs had endured on the Scott’s track at Arthur’s Pass. They were a bit sore and weary. As we kept going we came across an old mine shaft and equipment. It was raining quite steadily now and there was nothing to see except low clouds and rain. I am sure on a nice day there would have been a lovely view. Onwards and upwards we went. The rain got considerably worse. We took one wrong turn and revised that about 5 minutes later and went bush to cut across to the track . We had taken a dirt road instead of the narrow track. Probably should have stayed on the road as it ended up in the same spot but I never like to not do the whole loop. We kept walking as the rain kept falling down. We finally reached the peak of today’s hike which was 934m where DB took a quick photo and we raced on. We finally made it to the hut. (5.61km, 1:57 – 8mins stopped, climbed 400m up). We were wet and a little cold. Now to see how our new gear had fared. Ok 10/10 for my Kathmandu waterproof pants only the bottom of my pants were wet about 20cm from the bottom. My top was quite damp but my thermal underneath my top was dry. My boots were quite wet outside but my socks only a little damp. DB not so good. His North Face pants weren’t as waterproof as mine, his hiking pants were quite wet underneath, his shirt the same, but thermal top was dry. His shoes were wet with wet socks. Oh well. He needs to improve on that. He isn’t impressed as his pants were dearer than mine.

We went into the hut and went about starting the fire. This took a little while but we are very grateful to the previous hutters who left dry wood and kindling by the fireplace. Now to enjoy some quiet time as it is only 2.30pm. I was still a little cool so I took off my outer layer pants and put thermals duds on and jumped in my sleeping bag. Warm as toast in no time. Time to have a big cup of tea and a read.

The rest of the day went by nicely. We received no visitors, we had the cabin which was probably a good thing as we had wet clothes strewn from one end of the cabin to the other. Hoping that they would dry by the morning when we had to put them on. I kept thinking of Johanna and her trek on Stuart Island where she said she had a dry set of clothes for the night time and just had to put the wet ones back on in the morning. No wonder she was ready for it to be done 8 days later.

We had a quiet dinner, a read and then hit the sack in our private hut on Mt Somers. Woohoo!! We sure do love this.


Thursday 11th May
Rest day at last. We were both so exhausted, neither of us woke until 8.30am. We both had breakfast in bed and I also had lunch in bed. Just what the doctor ordered as I was absolutely wrecked. I just read and did some blogging. It was a little slice of heaven.

Just as I thought we were staying in all day, DB said. Do you want to go for a drive. So much for a full rest day. So off we went for a drive to Godley Head Park and Lyttleton Port. It was very pretty. As we were driving around the mountain (the roads were just like on Corsica – narrow, winding, blind corners and drop of about 200m) the fog came in very quickly, we were rushing against it to catch a couple of photos. It was lovely. We saw a beautiful sunset. We then drove to Lyttleton Port which was exactly that, an industrial port, lots of logged timber to be transported.

Then on the way home we stopped to get some provisions for tomorrow’s hike. Our last adventure before we head home on Sunday. We are all packed ready to go early tomorrow morning. Yay!!

Kumara to Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch

Wednesday 10th May
Well today we headed off to Arthur’s Pass for a hike. The suggestion was to Avalanche Peak. 1831m high. The weather forecast was to be quite average with heavier rain in the afternoon. The aim was to take the small window of opportunity earlier in the day when it might not be so ugly and hike as far as the tree line. We headed off at about 1.45pm. I hiked with no pack today which felt like freedom. Lucky as it was a very tough uphill scramble. The motivation to climb hard is a struggle when  you know you aren’t taking up the  challenge of the whole track. It was a very difficult climb. Rock scaling, creek crossing, wet tree roots and mud. All of the above makes for a very difficult climb, then take into account that it was an 1100m ascent over only about 2km. The view as we scaled the side of the mountain was fantastic. We kept going for about 30 mins (1.5hrs total) above the tree line. We only passed 2 people going down whilst we ascended and one going up whilst we were coming down. It is amazing the number of lone girls doing hikes over here. As always a little disappointed we didn’t do the whole track but unfortunately time and weather were against us.

We then drove to Christchurch (about 2 hrs). A little disappointing it was so late and we didn’t get to enjoy the magnificent scenery of Arthur’s Pass.  We have booked 2 nights in Christchurch as tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be very ugly and we are in need of a little rest. We headed out for Thai for dinner. One of the few meals out we have had in the last 5 weeks. It was really quite nice. The other thing is it was quick and easy. Home to our house for the next two nights. A relief to not have to be up early and pack and moving again. Sounds like we are almost ready to come home for a rest.

St Arnaud to Kumara

Tuesday 9th May
Today we woke to sunshine over Lake Rotoiti in St Arnaud which was quite unexpected as it was supposed to rain last night and this morning. We took our time getting organised so it could warm up a little. It didn’t seem to have got to 0° last night but it was still cool. After breakfast, packing up and doing a little clean of the hut, I sat down to write some postcards to the grandkids. It was a gorgeous spot to enjoy. At about 10am we started down the mountain again. We decided against the walk up to Angelus hut as it was too far and the weather was supposed to be coming in at some stage today. Half way down the mountain it started raining. We donned our wet weather gear and continued down. It was a pleasant 1.25hour walk down the mountain. It was a lovely morning despite the rain.

After arriving at the car and getting comfortable, DB spent a little time parked by the lake to decide which was the best option weather wise.

South it is. We are heading down to Arthur’s Pass where hopefully  the weather will break a little tomorrow and allow us to walk to Avalanche Peak. Only time will tell.

We have driven through rain on and off today but are looking forward to a little rest this afternoon when we reach Kumara. Our little town about 1 hour from Arthur’s Pass.

Nelson to St Arnaud

Monday 8th May
Today was a typical DB/Fi day. Hopeless at making decisions. It was to be a rest day but the weather is supposed to turn sour for the next 4 days so I was keen for one more adventure before we head home. DB wasn’t quite sure as his left knee was a little sore. The decision was- Will we go for a drive to Golden Bay, or start the drive to Queenstown or just go for a short walk. The weather was playing havoc with our decision. We went to the DOC and checked out the weather a bit more as it was looking grim except for today. We thought we would buy some camp food just in case we decided to stay somewhere overnight. In the end we decided to drive to St Arnaud and do a short walk maybe just around Lake Rotoiti. Maybe the loop up above the lake if we had time but the weather and time was a little prohibitive. We thought we could maybe do the high loop without packs. Suggested time 5.5hrs but the DOC lady said she does it in about 3 so we thought Maybe it would take us 4. It was now 1.30pm which if we left straight away it would still be dark when we finished. The hike was from 800m elevation to 1421m then back down to a hut at 1291m. The forecast for the night was 0′ with rain tonight and tomorrow. I suggested we hike to the hut which we thought could take about 2hrs then stay at Bush line hut for the night and come back down in the morning. Even if it is raining we have our new wet weather gear and it isn’t too far. So the decision was made. Now to pack our backpacks. We travelled even lighter this time. No change of clothes. Just extra jumper, scarf & beanie. A dinner each plus a spare in case. Breakfast and a few snacks. Stove saucepan and toiletries. Our packs were much lighter than when we finished our last hike. So by the time we had lunch, packed and drove to the start of the track it was 3pm. It was very cold in the shade before we started and it was clouding over.  We started the hike up and up and up. The view was amazing. The clouds blew away and we had an incredible hike uphill for an hour. We came across a snow shelter which made me more at ease because I was a little worried that the hut may be full as it only had mattresses for 12. At least we could stay in the shelter if necessary. We then walked down the ridge to the hut at 1291m. This only took another 20 mins. We arrived at the hut to find 5 people there. That was awesome, we have a bed.

We then met Klervie France, Johanna Germany  23, Rubén Germany, Alice US and Andrea France.

Klervie was a French girl with average english who met Johanna in Westport earlier this year and Klervie saw her hitchhiking a few days ago and picked her up, so they had been travelling in her magic mushroom car (mouldy wet mushrooms growing in the backpack mobile) for a few days together. Johanna had some amazing stories, she had done a tough 8 day hike on Stuart Island which was through knee deep mud. She did this with a guy who arrived at the same time as her. It was an amazing adventure for her. She has worked in WWOOF (WWOOF is about Living and Learning on Organic Farms. WWOOF provides volunteers hands-on educational and cultural experiences, learning about what is involved to grow produce and animals organically while living with local families and joining in the daily farming and family activities. Usually you live with your host and are expected to join in and cooperate with the day to day activities. In most countries the exchange is based on 4-6 hours help-fair exchange for a full day’s food and accommodation.) Alice was from the US but went and worked in Germany 8 years ago where she met Ruben and they have been a couple ever since. She now lives in Germany with him and they have been travelling, camping from their car and in huts for a while. They also WWOOF. Andrea was from France but he was very quite, in his late 20s we think. He was very nice but his English was also a little sketchy.

We shared a meal with them and some very interesting stories about their travels. Backpacking is such an incredible way to travel. We really have enjoyed these moments. We shared some of our stories as well. Another great experience. DBs legs survived the hike and we will decide if we go up further in the morning or just go back down to the car. The weather will help with this decision. It hasn’t rained as yet and it is now 10.45pm. Well off to sleep now. Nighty night xx

Abel Tasman National Park – Hike – Day 4

Sunday 7th May
Whariwharangi Hut to Totaranui to Marahau – 15.6km, 3:34 (stops 7:02)

Our last days hike we set out early as we had to be back at Totaranui by 12.15pm to catch the water taxi back to Marahau. Today’s hike was about 450m high over about an hour and a half and the down for the rest of the 11.5km hike. Half way up we saw Will’s backpack at a crossroad and he had run down to the finish of the track. Not to be outdone by England we felt we owed it to Australia to not be out done by the English so down we headed. a 3km run downhill with some amazing views of the Golden Bay spit and Wainui Bay. After reaching the end of the track we then headed back up which was again a 3km climb back up the hill It wasn’t too bad as we had removed our packs at the top. It was amazing the ease with which we climbed. It took us about 35mins to get back to the fork in the track. We then had a very tough climb to the top of Gibbs Hill, very steep and with our packs back on we questioned our decision to do as the English did. But too ate for that thought now. At the top of Gibbs Hill was more great views. The rest of the way to Totaranui was a gradual downhill slope for another 1.5hrs. On arrival we met up with Julia, Bjorn and Will, and we waited for the water taxi. It was great to see where we had walked from the water. Halfway back to Marahau on the taxi we rescued a couple whose blow up kayak had sprung a leak. I said it was a first date that had gone wrong but DB thought the guy just had sore arms and needed rescuing. They were a little embarrassed.

When we arrived at Marahau the water taxi was put on a trailer and a tractor pulled us out across the mud flats up to the office. We then headed to the car, giving Bjorn and Julia a lift back to their car at the start of the track. Bjorn had asked DB to have a look at the car because he was having trouble starting it sometime. He had bought it for $2900 when he first arrived through a Backpackers Facebook page. It was a pretty good Tarago style car which he was using as a campervan. Saving him heaps of money in accommodation. It was just loose battery terminal connectors. So they were very grateful. We said our goodbyes and headed to pick up our bags from our last accommodation and drove to Nelson for a well deserved rest.

Abel Tasman National Park – Hike – Day 3

Saturday 6th May
Awaroa Hut to Whariwharangi Hut – 18.11km, 5:50 hrs (1;05 stopping time) + an extra 5km in the morning before we left.

By day 3 we are getting to know people at the hut a little more. There are some great people. We are amongst the oldest and the others range from 18 to about 34. They are all different nationalities.

Bjorn 24 and Julia 19 from Germany – Bjorn was doing his teachers apprenticeship and Julia came to Australia and then NZ straight from school. She is going back to be an apprentice paediatric nurse. Julia met Bjorn on facebook backpackers page when he was looking for someone to share the costs in his camper.
Nanina & Carolyn from Germany – These girls didn’t seem to be trsvelling together but had a common bond of their nationality
Sonia 34 from Czech Republic – she was a card. She had been travelling for years. She was 34 and had no fixed address, she had an apartment she rented out in Boston which funds her travel
Rachel 31 from Lake Taupo NZ – was separated from her husband only 6 weeks ago and was doing some soul searching
Adrian 65 & Liz 62 Nth Island NZ – He was a school teacher and she was a midwife but they were retired and doing the hiking/hutting thing
Will maybe 22 UK – was doing a uni degree in agriculture and farming and was travelling through NZ and then Australia working on farms for some experience. His family have 3500 hectares and run sheep and cattle.
2 girls from Japan or China – who kept to themselves. DB spoke to them a little but they were very quiet and had only a little English.

It was great getting to know everyone a litttle as the days progressed.
As the days go by our packs are getting lighter by the amount of food we eat each day, not by the packaging though as we have to carry the rubbish out.

Before the hike started today DB wanted to see if we could see the sunrise from the furthest point on the beach so we headed out at 6.30am packless. This felt very free. We walked around the lake for as far as we could go then had to unfortunately climb back up to the upper track as we couldn’t get right around the lake. The upper track had some washed out areas but these were blocked off with alternate routes. We climbed the ridge a bit a got some lovely photos. By the time we got back to the hut 90mins later we had added an extra 5km to our days hiking. Although it was so much easier without our packs.

So today started a little slow as we had to wait for low tide to cross the river. You can only cross 1.5hrs before low tide and 2hrs after. Low tide today is 12.14pm, so we can cross any time from 10.45am. We need to cross as soon as we can as we have a 5.5hr hike to our next hut without any side tracks. As we wait we were all sitting on the verandah waiting for the time to pass. We had Sonia having her own dance party as she swept the hut clean. She was a real character. We will miss her tomorrow night as she was quite entertaining. We were saying goodbye to a few people as some were heading back from Totaranui.

When the time came to cross we headed out barefoot as you still had to wade through some water. The water was freezing, after about 3 mins in the water your feet were numb. It took about 20mins to walk across the flats and creek. We then hiked to Totaranui Beach where we had our lunch, then continued on our way. We had another 3 or so hours still to go.

We saw some Pukeko (Swamp Hen) on the way. They were very timid and ran away every time we tried to get a photo. There were a couple of track washouts along the way, a considerable climb. We had our first seal encounter along the beach. A few seal pups were playing in the water and one came out to play with us and was only a couple of feet away. He was very curious and DB played a bit of chasing with him. He stayed and played with us fr about 10mins. It was very special.

We had quite a few climbs today, although none of them went much more than 150-200m high there were quite a number of us and downs.  We went to Separation Point which had a nice view and also some ceramic birds with their own recorded calling on to encourage these birds to come in for breeding.

We finally made i to the small hut at Whariwharangi hut by 5pm. (The two-storey house was built 1898, but farming was never successful, and the house was abandoned 1926. It was restored 1980.) Yay, at last a bottom bunk bed. We were down to 6 of us (Will, Julia, Bjorn, Rachel, DB & I) from the core group plus 2 new French girls and another couple who hid in their room all night. The french girls were nice and friendly. We also had a German camper spend the fire time after dinner with us as well. It was a really nice night or chatting and laughing before we all go our separate way tomorrow. It was the first night that it was cold enough to spend some of the night in my sleeping bag. I had a much improved nights sleep until the smoke alarm went off about midnight. Mustn’t have been a fire as we all made it through the night.

Abel Tasman National Park – Hike – Day 2

Friday 5th May
Bark Bay Hut to Awaroa Hut – 13.4km, 4;57hrs (1;36 stopping time)

We woke early and DB went for a sunrise walk and I had a lazy read. After brekky I went for a walk to check out the beach and met a local fisherman who stayed in a batch (holiday house). He said it was so busy there in summer. Waterways are so noisy. He also said people are too busy racing to the next hut to enjoy what there was right there. He had worked in Sale in Victoria as a 20yr old, and travelled as far north as Byron Bay. Was curious about sharks and attacks in Australia and thought it was mainly WA, so we obviously get a bit of news coverage over here. He also told me that a US millionaire had given $50million to eradicate the wilding pines that had taken over the national parks. This project is trying to restore the National Park & Marlborough Sounds to its natural state.

DB met the ranger who lives in her own shack next door. She cleans up after everyone left. She said the campsites had really quietened down. Everyone was pretty tidy. They are quite clever. They have signs like “Thank you for bringing wood inside and cutting kindling for the next visitors” or “Thank you for leaving the area nice and clean”. Everyone seemed to make an effort to leave the place tidy.

Anyway off on our next days hike. Only 4.5 hrs today so we took it pretty easy. Stopped after the first hour for a 45 min morning tea break relaxing on the beach. We are really enjoying this type of hiking we are already talking about the next one and what we need to buy. First thing is proper hiking backpacks to help our backs a bit.

We enjoyed the views again today, it was a little tougher elevation wise, it seemed like we no sooner went down a slope then we were going back up again. On looking at the hiking statistics it really wasn’t that high at all. Obviously my little old body is feeling the effects of the number of days hiking in a row. Carrying a pack also affects this as well but the packs are getting lighter each day as we eat our food and I am getting used to the weight.

We arrived at the hut at Awaroa at about 3.30 today. Still too late to get a bottom bunk but at least we could still get a bed side by side.

We had lots of stops today as it was a reasonably short hike.

We talked a bit more to the people at the hut today, a lot of them were with us last night as well. There are people from New ZeLand, UK, Germany, Czech Republic, Argentina, Italy, Japan. It is really interesting.

Well that is 2 days done with only 2 to go. It is still fun.  Looking forward to new territory again tomorrow.

Abel Tasman National Park – Hike – Day 1

Thursday  4th May
Marahau to Bark Bay Hut (21.8km 7:13 hours including 1:10 hrs stops)

We set off on our next adventure. Four day hike on the Abel Tasman tracK through the national park. Starting at Marahau and finishing at Totaranui via Whariwharangi. Cost to stay in the 3 huts was $182 total. We also purchased 4 x $5 overnight back country hut passes.

We firstly stopped at Abel Tasman water taxis and bought our ticket to be brought back on our fourth day from Totaranui ($47 each) and parked our car in their parking for the time we were away. Always providing great service. Our accommodation last night also let us leave our luggage there free of charge we think. So the laptop and our big bags were left there safe and sound.

Then on our way we went. First was a 15 min walk along the path to the start of the track. Then into the national park we go. Today’s destination was to Bark Bay Hut. This was a double trek as there were no bunks at the first hut stop (Anchorage Hut). As we had already done the Marahau to Anchorage hut last time we were here we thought that would be fine. Although it did make for a long days hiking (21km). Peace of cake as we had just done a couple of 24km days. Although this time we had to carry our food, cooking equipment, clothes and sleeping bags. A lot tougher hike with a full backpack. All good though, we were up for the new challenge. Off we went.

We saw Tui, seal, robins, sooty pied catchers, fantails and a lot of people. We came across 55 people (48 heading south and 7 heading in our direction). This wasn’t very many as 30,000 people hike the track each year. We walked towards Anchorage Hut which was where we walked from last time we were here. We went out along a side track to the rock at Yellow Point and took a photo out on the rock just for nostalgia. We took the back track which bypassed Anchorage Hut which when I realised we missed the walk down to the hut which was so spectacular I was a little disappointed. But luckily we did this as we just made it to the low tide crossing across the Torrent River. Saying we just made it was exactly that. We had to wade in knee deep water across the bay in a couple of sections and walk quickly to avoid having to hike an extra  90 mins. Luckily we got there then, had we gone to the Hut we would have had to walk the extra. Making our hike over 8 hours and an arrival time of 5.50-6pm. The crossing was quite funny. The rest of the walk was very beautiful. We took a 5 min detour down to Sandfly Bay which was a lot longer than 5 mins and was quite tricky down the rocky path. With a full backpack it changes the dynamics of your walking making it a lot trickier. We finally made it to the hut at about 4.30pm. Most of the beds were already taken.

The hut accommodates 34 people. It was a general purpose room with fire, benches, sink and 3 bedrooms, 6 + 14 + 14 (2 bunks in each room 7 mattresses wide). There is a Ranger who lives there in a hut next door. We chose our bed and unpacked our new sleeping bags. You just put your sleeping bag on a mattress to reserve your bed. We then started preparing dinner and as we had a new cooker, DB tried to gas everyone because he didn’t realise the gas was turned on. The new cooker was great it only took 3.5 mins to boil 2 cups as advertised. We are eating freeze dried food as that is the easiest but it is really quite tasty.

We went to bed at 7.30 and that was really strange. We were woken at midnight by a girl screaming, she must have had a nightmare. I struggled sleeping in my new feather sleeping bag, I spent most of the night just in the liner and then I was still too hot.

It is an interesting group of people – couples, friends, individuals, mother and daughter and a family. Everyone was friendly. A lot were Seasoned trampers, but there were quite a few virgin overnight trampers like us.

It was a great day.