The previous night I discussed methods of getting up to the start of my track with the backpacker owner.
Easy. Three people were hiring a car for a day, and wanted to go to the Hokitika Gorge, the start of my walk. Excellent! I asked to join, and was told, no worries.
But first was the sunrise with a cloudless day. In Hokitika!
And the view down the end of the street looked directly at Aoraki/Mount Cook, remarkably sharp considering the almost 120 km distance.
So the driver, an English woman, Helen, an Austrian couple, a guy from Greenland, and I bundled into the car, my pack filling the boot. We did the tourist thing, up to Lake Kaniere, Dorothy Falls, some rally driving on a one-way gravel road around the lake, with some disregard for the consequences of meeting on the one-way bridges, until I mentioned the possibility of a claim on the car’s insurance excess. Then is it was up to the Hokitika Gorge.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been too concerned about hitching up, there were already about 30 cars filling the car park.
But, how did I not know about the river here, it’s apparently one of New Zealand’s 100 most scenic spots I was told. Helen had stayed another day in Hokitika specifically to see it.
There was a great lookout point with a view down to the swingbridge, and at the end of the track a rock to contemplate this huge river, and the peculiar milky blue flow. Man, that river was ripping along.
I mentioned I’d be walking up the river for the next two days.
Then, farewells made, I started this long summer’s adventure.
There was half an hour trudging along the four-wheel-drive road up to the start of the Whitcombe Track, a locked gate, some more trudging through mushy cow territory, before getting down to the river.
There was some easy folder hopping for 600 m and then the second big surprise of the day. I clambered up into the forest and there was a major bridle track all the way to the cableway across the river. Too easy.
A cableway? Yes, a single wire 60 m long suspended above the river. You sit in a small cage suspended beneath that is barely able to accommodate both yourself and a pack.
That is always fun on your own. With two people you can crank the other across. On your own, you fly rapidly to the middle of the river, then with some momentum get about three quarters of the way across before your arm muscles get a major workout as you drag up the increasingly steep wire.
The hut wasn’t far away.
About three hours actual walking, but I took my time, the pack heavy on my shoulders.
Major rain predicted for tomorrow. Might have this four bunker for two nights.