south Kahurangi National Park blog | February 2016

After 38 days wandering around the northern section of Kahurangi National Park I zipped back to Nelson for a refresh, just missing another 180 mm dump of rain.

A couple of weeks later, a few domestic things sorted, body fully rested, I headed back to have a look at the southern section of the park.

The north bit had some surprises: the Dragons Teeth, that bash up to the Ministry of Works Hut, and then the granite knobby type area of the Mackay Downs.

I had planned a circuitous route from the start of the Wangapeka Track south to Murchison to begin, then on to the newly completed Old Ghost Road.

This is what eventuated . . .

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Day 1 | John Reid Hut, Kahurangi National Park

The famous Mt Owen, 1875m, featuring in Lord of the Rings, from John Reid Hut. | Kahurangi National Park

Doesn’t take long to get back into the swing of tramping.

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Day 2 | Kiwi Saddle Hut, Kahurangi National Park

I spent two hours in one spot contemplating, umm, just contemplating.

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Day 3 | Kiwi Saddle Hut, Kahurangi National Park

Kiwi Saddle Hut at, err, Kiwi Saddle. | Kahurangi National Park

It was great just mooching about, enjoying the forest in the vicinity, the extensive hut literature and the pleasure of an afternoon nap.

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Day 4 | Kings Creek Hut, Kahurangi National Park

Kiwi Stream meets the Wangapeka River. Swingbridge in the distance. | Wangapeka Track, Kahurangi National Park

It’s cloudy morning but warm. At 6 30 it’s barely light, but just to practice I get up and pack up.

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Day 5 | Stone Hut, Kahurangi National Park

A stoat trap on the track. | Wangapeka Track, Kahurangi National Park

I chatted to the two trampers and heard a couple of almost believable stories, secondhand, about a hunter, A, hearing a moa scream at close quarters, and, B, getting swooped by a Haast eagle in the early 1950s. Seriously.

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Day 6 | Matiri Ridge tarn, Kahurangi National Park

The narrow ridge, Nugget Knob on the left, Mt Patriarch on the right. | Matiri Ridge and Valley, Kahurangi National Park

The wide grassy stretches I can deal with, the steep rocky not so much.

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Day 7 | Hurricane Hut, Kahurangi National Park

The view from Point 1344 of Lake Jeanette and The Haystack way beyond. | Matiri Ridge and Valley, Kahurangi National Park

As usual with me these days The Destination is not so important, it’s appreciation, making the most of this opportunity of the coincidence of outstanding location, perfect weather, and magnificent views.

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Day 8 | McConchies Hut, Kahurangi National Park

Great track today. Well, mostly. | Matiri Ridge and Valley, Kahurangi National Park

Another one of those all-day-to-get-5.5-hours-of-walking kinda days.

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Day 9 | Larrikin Creek Hut, Kahurangi National Park

I just came up the valley and then up the hill, cross country style. | Matiri Ridge and Valley, Kahurangi National Park

Today I made a pledge to stay on the tracks for the rest of the summer.

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Day 10 | Larrikin Creek Hut, Kahurangi National Park

The view from The Needle of The Haystack and the 1000 Acre Plateau. | Matiri Ridge and Valley, Kahurangi National Park

I’m not so keen, my limbs are tired after all the recent walking, particularly yesterday but I think to myself, if I ever come back here, not too likely, the weather couldn’t be so good, better make the most of it.

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Day 11 | Lake Matiri Hut, Kahurangi National Park

Lake Matiri on the track from the 1000 Acre Plateau. | Matiri Ridge and Valley, Kahurangi National Park

On Day 11 of this trip I’m looking forward to some fresh food and pizza in Murchison tomorrow.

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Day 12 | Civilisation! Murchison, err, backpackers

The early morning view from Lake Matiri Hut. | Matiri Ridge and Valley, Kahurangi National Park

I was thinking an early start would be an idea, but there’s thoughts, and then there’s actions.

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Day 13 | Lyell Saddle Hut, Lyell Range/Radiant Range Conservation Area

There's been plenty of hard work hacking across the Murchison earthquake slips. | Old Ghost Road

It’s an entirely different experience to my previous couple of weeks, but I don’t mind, its kinda nice just to be able to stride along without having to think about foot placement, or overgrown track, or steepness.

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Day 14 | Stern Valley Hut, Lyell Range/Radiant Range Conservation Area

The track is exposed to the elements up at 1300 m. | Old Ghost Road

All this company is a bit different from last week. I’m catching up on socialisation big-time.

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Day 15 | Goat Creek Hut, Mokihinui Forks Ecological Area

Slow going through the rockfall area, zigzagging, major rocks hanging above.

I like the Goat Creek Hut, more my style than the newly built ones. It might not have the full amenity of last night, like flyscreens with mesh the sandflies can crawl through, but being built in 1957, and renovated in 2013, it has character in buckets, and you can sweep the floor straight out the door.

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Day 16 | Mokihinui Forks Hut, Mokihinui Forks Ecological Area

The bike track goes through some fantastic forest. | Old Ghost Road

The day’s two highlights: a giant powelliphanta carnivorous snail, alive, stalking its prey at a very slow rate; and, a huge spring, that popped out of a hole in the ground and turned into a major flowing stream.

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Day 17 | Specimen Point Hut, Mokihinui Forks Ecological Area

The Mokihinui River was way up, churning and looking way ugly. | Old Ghost Road

It’s not the biggest day, just 3 km around to Specimen Hut, generally on the level. I can cope with that, I’m needing a couple of days of easy walking.

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Day 18 | Back in Nelson

These days they have bridges over the Suicide Slips | Old Ghost Road

My Lawrence of Arabia cap keeps the rain off my glasses, the track is mostly level, my pack is about as light as it ever seems to be, and that mighty river is roaring, swirling, churning its way to the coast down below.