Big day, real big day, at least for me.

Actually the longest day in time since I’ve began, I must be warming up, just over eight hours on the move.

It certainly been the most physical, almost 2000 m climbing in three big climbs, plus some small ones.

Two gals in the hut when I arrived around 7 30, already in the sleeping bags, walking TA from Twizel to Queenstown. I’ve met a few other trampers today, the earliest being two trail runners doing the car park to Arrowtown run, they shuffled past me on a downhill. I was just starting my second, and gnarliest, climb for the day.

Too easy, I said, Where’s your packs?

They seemed happy enough.

The next lot, a couple, weren’t. I passed them about the top of the climb, they didn’t break stride, grunted hello at me and were outta there.

Okay.

That’s unusual for New Zealand, we are generally a friendly lot.

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.

The three huts on the Motutapu are similar, built in 2006 in the current DOC style, ie, big picture windows, plenty of stainless steel benching, adequate seating, and the bunks on two big sleeping platforms, ten mattresses, overall a lot of light, and enough room when you are on your lonesome, or even sharing the cooking space with two others.

Still, I’ve whacked my tent up, no complaints.

When I made it to Highland Creek Hut I had thought if it was before 2pm I would continue for some reason, I’d already walked more than five hours. It was after, but before 3pm so thought what the hell, give it a go.

Just after I left I ran into Bill for a chat, then around the corner the 68-year-old Geoff, doing TA in sections. We sat for a while, him telling me about his North Island impressions. Considering he had come from the car park he had put in our fair day’s effort.

One thing for sure is that today has been quite the grunt, the track is very well marked though and the path, except in some short wet area sections, minor creek crossings, is easy enough to walk, not much like that first ominous day scuttling above the Arrow River.

Tomorrow, resupply in Wanaka, the gals say it’s only seven days to Twizel so not much additional load will be required, and a long period of being able to stretch my legs, walking around the lake.

After all these recent bumps I’m gonna appreciate a faster pace for a few days.

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A guide to the night’s accommodation: Fern Burn Hut

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