Te Araroa blog | 100 days of walking . . .

100 days of walking?

It’s sure possible to have enough of a good thing.

For the record there were 16 days on Stewart Island, getting down below 47ºS, then moving straight into 85 days heading, mostly, north on Te Araroa, Bluff to the end of the Queen Charlotte Track near Picton.

The 100 days of . . . phenomenon is going to be big in 2015, apparently, showing your commitment to self portraiture, eating a donut, whatever, anything creative, or self enhancing.

I thought I’d get in early.

100 days of walking?

Yup, done.

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TA Day 1 | Stewart Island to civilisation, err, Invercargill

Any day walking from Bluff to Invercargill mostly along the highway is never going to be inspiring, particularly when you throw in, for my case, the ferry trip over from Stewart Island, the strait quite choppy, that’s the technical term.

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TA Day 3 | Taunamau Creek, Oreti Beach, 10km from Riverton

Plenty of fresh air today, I knew I’d be catching up on any deficiency from my two backpacking nights. Actually a flawless day, I know every day is flawless but today failed to have a cloud show itself and it was even calm early on.

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TA Day 4 | Colac Bay, not quite at the campground

Better to camp here in Paradise on my lonesome than struggle on to be surrounded by people, car doors slamming and all night lighting.

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TA Day 5 | Ports water race, Longwood Forest

And this morning, sun rising over the sea, almost, the tide at its zenith, not much enthusiasm to move, just better to watch the sunlight on Mount Anglem on Stewart Island, the gulls and shags cruising past, the waves getting bigger as the tide retreats.

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TA Day 6 | Martins Hut, Longwood Forest

The whole forest was wet and you have to push through the ferns on this crazy wiggly, woggly path, the water race following the contour and on a map just looks the zaniest of paths, surveyed by someone with attention deficit disorder.

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TA Day 7 | Merrivale Road end

Today it was the whackiest pure silver beech forest, moss everywhere, sphagnum on the ground, other species on the tree trunks. It’s essentially untouched forest, other than the trail on the ground.

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TA Day 8 | Woodlaw Forest Conservation Park

I’ll just continue with my 20km a day, it’s hard to sustain much more than that day after day, at least for me with my current baggage.

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TA Day 9 | Mt Linton Station

That was lucky with the water last night because there didn’t appear to be much around along the route today, just traipsing down farm roads and forestry tracks for the most part.

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TA Day 10 | Telford campsite

I’m sure I won’t be needing to count sheep to go to sleep tonight.

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TA Day 11 | almost to Aparima Hut

Eventually I bunged up the tent in some pasture, only moderately sloping, still an hour from the hut. I haven’t seen anyone at all today.

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TA Day 12 | Lower Princhester Hut, Takitimu Conservation Area

I’m starting to see a pattern here with my fellow travellers, all determination, a fair level of discipline, but an entirely jovial disposition. We generally stop for a chat and swap hints for the next section and have a little five minute session on the meaning of life.

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TA Day 13 | to Kiwi Burn Hut

The last two days have not been a time of stretching my legs, too many obstacles, tussock, crown fern, ups and downs, so today was that opportunity.

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TA Day 14 | Careys Hut, North Mavora Lake

Later a couple of cheery French guys, on the same route, no Milford for them, on 29ers, the bikes bought in a supermarket, belongings lashed with string and sticky tape to a feeble carrier, waterproofing achieved by plastic bags, joking and laughing and having the adventure of their lives.

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TA Day 15 | just out the back of Greenstone Hut

Man, it was as if we were old friends from childhood, that’s the way it is with us TAers.

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TA Day 16 | Queenstown, hunh, it's a zoo

Some fresh food and a shower. Doesn’t look as if I had as much of a tan as I had thought.

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TA Day 18 | just past Arrowtown, on the Big Hill Trail

Today was cars/buses/trucks, construction zones and diversions, the surreal suburbville of the Lake Hayes Estate, some country club, daytripper cyclists on the Queenstown Trail, until I finally came into the excessively picturesque Arrowtown with all the twee shops and shoppers.

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TA Day 19 | to Macetown, a gold mining ghost town

The weather forecast was the shortest ever: New Zealand — Fine.

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TA Day 20 | Roses Hut, Motutapu Trail

Looking forward to a non-deflating mattress tonight, this is the first night I’ve had a hut since I was at Careys Hut a week ago.

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TA Day 21 | Fern Burn Hut, Motutapu Track

The country getting into Highland Creek is simply amazing. I know that gets overused these days but it is remarkably broken landscape, the mountains high, lots of bluffs, a steep stream, and big views of all of this. And the line of the track clearly visible heading upwards again on the other side.

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TA Day 22 | lakeside at Lake Wanaka

Ha, you camped THERE?

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TA Day 23 | out the back of the Lake Hawea Hotel

There will be much longer days than this which will be far easier, guess there’s a buildup of tiredness that just crashed in today.

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TA Day 24 | still out the back of the Lake Hawea Hotel

The major achievement of today, other than excessive amounts of not much, patching a hole in my sleeping mat which now at least doesn’t suffer from rapid deflation.

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TA Day 25 | just the 1000m climb to Pakituhi Hut

The climb from the lake edge is 975m, quite the steep grunt and somehow I never got into my climbing groove, just a case plugging away, having lunch, more climbing, lots of climbing that’s for sure.

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TA Day 26 | to a splendid Timaru River camp

She was proud that her pack base weight, that’s everything she carried, except for food, was a scanty 2.8kg. Sheesh, my pack on its own weighs more than that.

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TA Day 27 | to Tin Hut, near the Ahuriri River

Fortunately the rain had stopped by 6am, but everything is damp once again, except for the tent, which is soaked.

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TA Day 28 | somewhere near the Ahuriri River East Branch Saddle

Tin Hut might’ve been dusty, musty and dirty but at least it was dry.

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TA Day 29 | to the Ohau River banks

I woke early and managed to listen to the forecasts. Seems it’s a good day to come down from the mountains, storms are brewing.

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TA Day 30 | to the shores of Lake Pukaki

First flat day since leaving Queenstown so I’m cranking.

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TA Day 31 | the other end of Lake Pukaki

there was a fair level of wiggly woggliness, in and out of bays and as the day progressed it was more of a smash into the wind that was scooting down the lake.

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TA Day 32 | camping at the lake in Lake Tekapo Recreation Park

I suggested today was the halfway mark of the South Island, in distance, but they corrected me, it’s crossing Camp Creek tomorrow.

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TA Day 33 | 2km before Camp Stream Hut

I’ll sleep well again tonight, that’s 60km cranked out in the last 36 hours.

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TA Day 34 | to Royal Hut

Best day of Te Araroa so far.

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TA Day 35 | to Stone Hut

Four creek crossings to rinse the socks and I was ready to call it a day.

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TA Day 36 | to the south side of the Rangatata River

I’ve been lucky to have these last two rainy nights in a hut by myself and now I’m snug in my tent, sun down, dinner eaten, clear sky, maybe another frost tomorrow morning but with this wind probably not.

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TA Day 37 | to Paddle Hill Creek camp

There’s a huge backdrop to the Rangatata, that Two Thumb Range and plenty of others, but I was soon pointing in the other direction, heading north once again.

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TA Day 38 | to Double Hut

Man, people everywhere.

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TA Day 39 | to A Frame Hut

I didn’t count the exact number but it was certainly more than 20 crossings, 40 maybe, towards the end I found myself just walking in the middle of the river for a bit.

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TA Day 40 | just camped under the Harper River bridge

Some relief that the three biggest river crossings on TA were now over with, the Ahuriri, the Rangatata and the Rakaia, although suddenly I realised there was still the potentially difficult Taramakau coming up.

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TA Day 41 | to West Harper Hut

Today marks quite a demarcation in the South Island part of Te Araroa.

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TA Day 42 | hitching to Greymouth

Bigtime food, a long shower with much of my tan disappearing, internet and phone connectivity, all the accoutrements of civilisation.

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TA Day 45 | to Carroll Hut, Arthurs Pass National Park

At the bushline the clouds are around my ears, visibility is indeed quite low, but the track is clear on the ground and it’s just a short hop to the empty hut.

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TA Day 46 | to Mid Taipo Hut

With the new rigid boots, the only ones I could find in Greymouth that were my size were alpine boots, and now ten day food ballast I’m feeling almost enthusiastic about walking down 1000m+ inclines, and trudging up trackless rivers.

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TA Day 47 | on to Old Julia Hut

The blue duck/whio day.

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TA Day 48 | over Harman Pass to Carrington Hut

Man, oh man, that was a day.

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TA Day 49 | up to the junction of the Mingha and Edwards Rivers

Just as I turned into the Mingha Valley it started to rain, a bit more than a drizzle, and for once I’m out in my tent for the night.

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TA Day 50 | just up to Goat Pass Hut

The Goat Pass Hut is in a dramatic location, looking across the top of the Deception River to some fairly steep bluffs.

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TA Day 51 | to Lake Creek junction at the Taramakau

The sandflies were thick where I pitched the tent and it took a while to eliminate them from the confines, now it has started to drizzle.

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TA Day 52 | to Harper Pass Bivvy

Actually it never drizzled last night, that was just the sound of the sandflies trying get into the tent.

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TA Day 53 | an easy amble down to Hurunui Hut

Oh, maybe the easiest day on the track, just wandering down the wide Hurunui valley, narrow at the top, plenty of red beech forest along the way.

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TA Day 54 | to Three Mile Stream Hut

A stroll yesterday, today, humm, a whole heap of energy expended.

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TA Day 55 | camping outside Lake Man Bivvy

It was just a short stroll up to the Pussy Stream turnoff to get up and over Lake Man Saddle, the track was well marked to start, but then it was the complete reprise from yesterday, windfall trees in a narrow valley, another gorge, only this time just half the length.

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TA Day 56 | at The Boyle River, near the village

I’ve been ravenous over the last few days but sadly, when I cracked the package open, there was little more than base rations, not much in the way of frivolous goodies, looks as if my weight will continue to decline.

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TA Day 57 | up to Ada Pass Hut

Indecision in the morning, I couldn’t work out whether to head into the Nina Valley and zip over the tops to the Lewis pass, the hard version, or just hitch directly up to the Lewis Pass.

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TA Day 58 | to Bobs Hut, West Mataki valley

Maybe I shouldn’t describe today too completely or I might have a hard job finding a tramping companion in time to come.

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TA Day 59 | another day at Bobs Hut, West Mataki valley

We talk geology and earthquakes off and on during the day, and other random subjects, two scientific minds interested in the world around us.

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TA Day 60 | now trapped by flooding at Bobs Hut, West Mataki valley

It’s a lesson in the speedy ups and downs of the rivers in New Zealand, this morning was certain drowning, a few hours after the rain had stopped, not much of a problem.

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TA Day 61 | over to East Mataki Hut

This is the first real day of heavy rain I can remember, I’ve had days of many short showers but not the whole time with the weather just seriously coming down.

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TA Day 62 | over David Saddle to Upper D'Urville Bivvy

That’s the last of the truly adventurous days for a while, all the remainder of the trail I’m intending to travel will be well marked and after three nights on my lonesome I may well be back to having company tomorrow.

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TA Day 63 | easing down to George Lyon Hut

You get a more immediate brush with nature in your tent, but I must be getting soft, avoiding more dampness and enjoying a solitary time in a big hut.

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TA Day 64 | another easy day to Morgans Hut

I think I should mention this, it’s almost 3 weeks since I left Greymouth and I’m unbelievably hungry.

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TA Day 65 | dropping into the crowds at Sabine Hut

the lake is completely calm, the standard grey mirror, but with huge raindrops dotting it. Even with the tedium of a busy hut there’s just this astonishing moment.

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TA Day 66 | woo hoo, St Arnaud

Shared adversity, it’s the fastest method to create friendship.

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TA Day 69 | a short stroll to Red Hills Hut

Welcome back to the human race, bro.

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TA Day 70 | over to Hunters Hut in the rain

Three nights solid eating and talking and all the rest of the boy meets girl thing, has given more spring in my step despite once again having my pack loaded with ten days of ballast, ie, food.

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TA Day 71 | up and over to Top Wairoa Hut

On the way down from the saddle there’s some extensive tracts of ugly boulders to cross, large dog sized, just stacked on top of each other, a few unstable, a lot of air underneath them, slow going for the less than agile, particularly going down the slope, but the traction is outstanding, patience is required, the consequences of a fall here rather savage.

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TA Day 72 | a big day to Lower Goulter Hut

Hill climbing, now that’s a productive way to fill in couple of hours.

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TA Day 73 | a hop to Mid Goulter Hut

I’m going through a productive creative period. I sat the forest for a while, it’s a clear sky, no wind and cranked out some words.

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TA Day 74 | on to Lake Chalice

And in the hut, the usual, a fair congregation of mice, one runs across the floor then notices my eyes, a startled look, and a rapid scuttling as mice are prone to do, they really are quite busy in their movements when their home is invaded.

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TA Day 75 | camping up at Richmond Saddle Hut

Life can be character building but somehow I feel I’ve had sufficient experience of this inconsiderate type to have a sufficiently strong character already.

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TA Day 76 | dropping to Middy Creek Hut on the Pelorus River

I staggered into Middy Creek Hut just on dark and there’s one of the last TA SOBOs, I’m thinking it’s going to get mighty cool in that tent for him as he makes his way south over the next two months but he’s a Kiwi with alpine experience and doesn’t seem to fazed at the prospect.

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TA Day 77 | that must be Pelorus Bridge

Was I really on Mt Fell this time yesterday?

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TA Day 78 | civilisation and food in Havelock

See, that’s all it takes, all is right with the world.

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TA Day 79 | over to Davies Bay campsite

sleep was sporadic, I was in the Havelock camping ground, catching up with major calorific intake and standard hygiene issues, but my tent had a mussel processing facility nearby and a huge compressor started and stopped at regular intervals, noisy revellers, a lot of car horns heard, trucks reversing, it did go on, as well as a few orange floodlights nearby, might as well have been daylight.

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TA Day 80 | up at Black Rock Campsite, Queen Charlotte Track

I sense I might have overdone this solitary thing. Or maybe it’s just the standard end of trail blues kicking in.

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TA Day 81 | just to Camp Bay, Queen Charlotte Track

Some of that grunting wasn’t me, I said to the other camper, but it seems some clearly was, she maintains distance from me, my task of providing her reassurance she wasn’t going to be eaten by cannibals overnight having been accomplished there is no longer need to be friendly.

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TA Day 82 | to Ship Cove, then back to Schoolhouse Bay

You might have thought that I’d be excited, take 100 selfies, jump up and down, etc, but I’m curiously flat.

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TA Day 83 | back to the Bay of Many Coves campsite

This was the way the trail should end, not just the wet, lonely mess that I had been feeling.

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TA Day 84 | last night at Davies Bay campsite

The self reflection that solitary travel allows, mostly at a subconscious level, particularly when the distraction level is low, can be important to processing life, and deciding how to live it.

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TA Day 85 | no more tent, I'm in Nelson

Our spirits are undimmed, both euphoric and sad simultaneously.