Got away at 0740 today for the trek to Hunters Hut, 19.6km away. We walked for just over 9 hours today plus an hour or so of breaks, so arrived at Hunters Hut at 1800. The days GPS track is here.
The first section to Top Wairoa Hut carries a TA warning about sidles on steep terrain that may be a challenge. The reality for us was that it was no worse than walking around a steep hill on an animal track on the farm - so it was not a problem, especially compared with Mt Rintoul! It was also through bush so was far less open and therefore, for me, not at all intimidating. This section also involved 8 river crossings (Wairoa River Left Branch), mostly wet feet crossings, but river levels were very moderate so that wasn't an issue either - not even getting to knee level. We noted that the wasp baiting continued on this section to Top Wairoa :-) While we were following a river, it was steadily uphill - about 500m vertical over the 4 hours.
From here, as the TA notes say, the landscape changed as we hit "Red Hills" conservation area. The landscape became more open and barren as we climbed up some exposed ridges (a bit disconcerting for me as it was quite cool and windy, although the rational me knows it was not at all dangerous!) towards Mt Ellis (1615m asl). The GPS track has us going over but the notes said we pass below. We were relieved to see it was the latter as we only got to about 1515m!! It was just one of those days where weather conditions and our own state of mind meant neither of us was looking forward to a climb over Mt Ellis - so, a good result!
It was a bit chilly up here so it was good to head down a little (although the knees didn't always agree)! This was down through a mixture of scrubby bush and more open rocky/gravel areas also involving several river crossings. Eventually we crossed the Motueka River Left Branch again at about 750m asl and headed up the final stretch to Hunters Hut - it so often seems that we have an uphill to finish the day - in this case only about 100m vertical!! The little sign at the bottom said 15 minutes but it was 15 minutes that seemed to us more like 50 - again, just one of those days!! As with Rintoull and Mid Wairoa, we had this nice little hut to ourselves :-) Belinda went out to the toilet after dark and had the misfortune to sit on a wasp - a painful experience (and a fatal one for the wasp)!! A bit of cortisone cream helped alleviate some of the pain and swelling, but a reminder to be careful out there!! :-)
This is a very comfortable hut built in 1997 (renovated 2011) to replace the Bush Edge Hut which was tragically washed away with the loss of two DOC goat shooters, Russell Griebel and Bob Waldie, in a flash flood in February 1995.
Belinda and Anthony (aka Tony) Hadfield made a decision, in their late 50's, to do something a "bit different" and walk New Zealand's 3000km Te Araroa Trail over summer 2015/16 - although updates will now tell you that this plan will take longer now!!. As the old saying goes - "don't leave home 'til you've seen the country"!!