Nelson Lakes National Park circuit | December 2018

My seventh big tramp for the year?

Yeah, I’ve been out and about.

71 nights in total, if I include the full Blenheim to Kaikoura trip that started on 22nd December last year.

Now launching out into a full summer tramping season.

Plans are for an initial fortnight-long trip closer to home to visit a few huts I visited in my youth in Nelson Lakes National Park, and a few around the eastern periphery.

Then spend a month or more down south.

Last year I was washed out with the two cyclones Fehi and Gita, and that dampened my enthusiasm.

This year I’m more optimistic that the weather gods will smile. I’m also going to sit out any poor weather, and then smash on.

The logistics of the first trip is easy. Carry everything I need, and return home for replenishment.

After that? Don’t know.

Public transport would allow the flexibility of one-way trips, but I’ll be ending up carrying battery chargers, plus everything I need for surviving in civilisation as well. I guess I’ll be posting myself things further down the line.

In the meantime the weather ain’t exactly optimal. Other than a few days of summer in the first week of December it’s been mighty unsettled for months.

Let’s hope that’s about to change.

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Here is the map from the trip. If you click on it you can look at any section in great detail.

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Day 1 | Speargrass Hut once again

I took up residence on the veranda with the sandflies, and once they went to bed, on sunset, a possum took their place in the harassment stakes, albeit concentrating on some loose plastic bags, not my skin.

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Day 2 | Sabine Hut, Lake Rotoroa

Then it was the full Festival of the Root on the giant sidle around the slope.

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Day 3 | Mt Misery Hut, up in the clouds

A few more paces, the gloom lifted momentarily, and I’d almost walked into the hut wall.

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Day 4 | D'Urville River campsite

Destination Tiraumea Hut. But it turned out to be a kind of down, and up, and down day.

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Day 5 | Tiraumea Hut, a night with a hunter

There was a preponderance of sandflies who elected to join me, without consultation first. I would have declined their company, having decided early in my tenting career that I preferred solitary company, at least when in my tiny one-person tent that is barely large enough to house myself.

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Day 6 | Mole Hut, night 1

Out here you notice that you have a body as well.

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Day 7 | Mole Hut, night 2

Thunder in the distance. Heavy rain on the roof.

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Day 8 | Mole Hut, night 3

I finish reading a book on my small screen iPod, and hope tomorrow is in fact brighter.

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Day 9 | Downie Hut, and wet behind my ears

Fortunately, once at Downie I went for water down to the main river, spotted a yearling hind myself, then applied myself to the woodpile, a firelighter, and a found box of matches, and soon had quite a blaze.

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Day 10 | Bobs Hut, almost like coming home

The rat decided on being elsewhere, and the stoat followed suit, leaving me in peace.

Later Mr Stoat looked in through the open door.

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Day 11 | Bobs Hut, Night 2

Task for the day: Have a shave.

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Day 12 | Ada Pass Hut, a full day's walking

You practice for the big days. It looks like all the earlier effort has paid off. This was a Big Day.

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Day 13 | Christopher Hut, Christmas Day

The major sight of the day, other than the south face of Gloriana where only the lower slopes were visible, was a pair of Paradise ducks with five ducklings of the extraordinarily cute variety, barely the size of a fist, and totally fluffy with their first feathers.

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Day 14 | Waiau River valley, camping on a mossy knoll

I had my Lawrence of Arabia headgear on for sun protection as I walked up the Waiau Valley, rather than for keeping the drizzle off my glasses that was required yesterday.

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Day 15 | Upper Clarence River Valley, camping again

I slowly packed up while eating breakfast, and watched a little peloton of four trampers crack on down the valley looking insectivorous with their twin long walking poles clicking in action.

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Day 16 | Paske Hut, over Paske Saddle

The day’s task is easy: up the valley an hour or so, up over the Paske Saddle, not even a 600 m climb, and then down the other side to the hut. Yeah, that sounds easy enough.

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Day 17 | Begley Hut, and no pass to climb

Wasn’t long before my coat was off and the sunscreen on, although it was not quite as cloudless as some of the previous days.

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Day 18 | Connor Creek Hut, and the last big climb

It wasn’t as spectacular as Paske Saddle, but the valley was tighter, with very rugged peaks on view, cliffs, rock falls, avalanche trails, etc. A field of speargrass. Big rocks in streams, or precariously perched halfway up slopes.

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Day 19 | Finally back home in Nelson

I was happy to spend a little time trudging down the dusty Rainbow Road. A little of something can be a good thing.