We got away early at 0730, with no breakfast, to try and beat the sandflies! Arrived at the lovely Anne Hut at 1600 after 29km - a 8.5hr day that involved 7h10 of actual walking (although forgot to stop the watch straight away at Anne Hut). We were pleased enough as the suggested walking time is 9 hours. GPS info for the day is here.
We followed the Waiau River valley for much of the day. Initially there was a bit of crossing of water and a bit of walking in scrubby bush alongside the river, as well as patches of river valley grassland (the area is part of St James Station). After about 2hr and 8 km we stopped and had a cuppa - unusual for us but we had left early and only had muesli bars for brekkie so a hot drink sounded great! Of course the sandflies found us in no time so, much as we dislike using it, it was on with the repellent. Once the tea was made we walked around a bit as we drank in order to minimise the sandfly impact - doesn't encourage stopping for a rest :-) The half hour break was great, however, and the hot drink was a nice booster!
It was more of the same, mostly grassland, for another couple of km at which stage we hit a 4wd track that we followed for around 19km - including a crossing of the smallish Ada River. Just before that we went past the Ada homestead which is still in private hands. There were lots of horses grazing on the property - we can only assume that they are probably St James stock. Not sure if they use them for trekking or not but there was some evidence of horses on our track as we came down the valley
The scenery is still stunning but didn't change a lot as you walk along. This 4wd track actually goes all the way past Anne Hut but near to the hut we took a diversion from it, crossing a swingbridge across the Henry River before following that river, more or less, for a few kms until reaching the hut. The swingbridge was interesting - not different from any of the others we have crossed but there was a strong nor'wester blowing down the valley and the bridge was living up to its name (i.e. it was swinging!!). Neither of us are natural at using these things (although we are much more used to them now!!) so the crossing was a bit slower than usual! By this time we had joined up with the St James Walkway which took us to the hut. This is a lovely new 20 bunk serviced hut that opened in Feb 2012 after the previous one, I believe located closer to the Anne River, burnt down in 2010.
Arriving at the hut nice and early on a sunny but windy day (the sun had broken through by now) meant we had a good opportunity to dry everything out, which was great. Should note that we have never seen so many bumblebees in one place - fantastic - they were flying around the hut in some numbers, trying to land on us and everything we had out drying, especially if it was blue!! A young French couple, Florence and Madeleine, were there when we arrived. They are nearing the end of a 12 month working holiday and are doing the St James Walkway after earlier doing the Travers-Sabine circuit as well. Around 1930 two other couples arrived close together. Markus & Nana and a kiwi couple, Tawera and Rachel (TA sobo). Both couples had camped at Waiau Forks soon after the Waiau Pass, so had done an extra 5km or so over and above our distance for the day. We discussed the fact that we would be up an hour earlier than usual because of the daylight saving change tonight - meaning daylight start for us becomes about 0630 instead of 0730!
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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"!!