We were a bit later up this morning and left Hop-Kiwi Hut at 0715, with the target being Hurunui No3 Hut.. We arrived there about 1630 (9h15 in total), but I forgot to turn the GPS off for 40 minutes so it shows 8h42 of walking when it was almost exactly 8 hours (the notes suggest 9-11 hours)! We covered 29.5km today - the GPS info is here.
This is the start of the Harper Pass Track which officially goes through to Aickens carpark on SH73. There is a little bit of family history here to start the day :-) We have a cousin Sue (my late Dad’s first cousin) in America, whose mother was Rosamond Harper. Rosamond was often taken tramping and mountain climbing by her father Arthur (AP) Harper who was a keen mountaineer and explorer. His father was Leonard Harper (son of the first Anglican Bishop of Chch) who, in 1857, was the first European to go right through to the West Coast, over the pass that now bears his name.
It was a bit chilly this morning (but not quite a frost) as we left the hut and, of course, we had a wet foot crossing within 10 min of departing - so the feet started off a little bit cold! We walked up the Kiwi River valley in long pasture for 3km or so, with some sizeable marshy patches that we were mostly taken around on the bush margins. We saw some deer across the river in a clearing just below the bushline - even at some distance they were a little spooked by us! Then it was in forest margin for a bit up to where the open pasture and wetland areas finished. So the next phase was a steady gentle climb up through bush, eventually around above Lake Sumner. There is a lookout near Kiwi Pass so we shot up to that (a very short distance off trail up a hill) for a short break after 1hr45. The mist almost completely hid the lake when we arrived but kindly lifted while we were there to give us a view of the lake - Belinda managing the weather again :-)
Then it was down mostly through beech forest to the head of Lake Sumner, where the Hurunui River flows in. There were lots of birds again today - same mix as yesterday - always nice to see! A brief walk on flat pasture beside the lake (two hikers just getting tent packed away in distance), and some photos of the lake, saw us back into trees. Soon after we came across a group of one mum (Sarah) and 3 students (her daughter Laura plus Chloe and Jared) from Papanui High School in Chch - the kids were doing it as part of the Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Silver Award. We had a lovely chat with them for 15 minutes or so - it's fantastic to see teenagers out doing this sort of stuff (with supportive parents!!). They also gave us an update on the weather which seemed to have Monday looking OK and Tuesday with the possibility of the “muck” starting to come in sometime. After the break for a chat we were back into beech forest heading west. About 3km from Hurunui Hut (our planned lunch stop) we came back out onto pasture - with cattle grazing and 4wd tracks in evidence. The track then turned and headed south for a short while, directly across the valley through the cattle, to a swingbridge across the Hurunui River. Another half hour on the true right of the Hurunui saw us at Hurunui Hut (after 19km, just over 5 hours of walking), at 1245. We had a half hour for lunch and got underway again.
1.25 hours later we came across the famous hot pool, which we had been looking forward to. We stripped off and jumped in!! Had a soak for about 10 mins (with the sandflies!) - it was absolutely luxury! Then it was a quick dry-off and dress (sandflies in attendance) and back on the trail. We had hoped to be doing some river flat walking but it wasn't too be (we have almost learnt not to have expectations about what is ahead!!). Most of it was through the beech margin, with some harder going underfoot, including a little up and down - not really what we were looking for toward the latter phase of a long day! We must be getting fussy! However, the last 1.5km was on nice river flat to ease our passage to the hut!
A Kiwi hunter by the name of Dave was here and had just started lighting the fire :-). Dave is close to my age and from Cambridge. He retired early from IT and has only taken up hunting in the last five years or so - he gets out regularly and absolutely loves it - and is doing a couple of weeks around here this time. We had already heard about Dave from a couple of other parties who had been beneficiaries of his generosity in sharing out a deer he had shot!! A very nice guy and we had lots of discussions! As usual, into bed not too long after dark, ready for an early start. Dave was also going early - he was heading back to Hurunui Hut where he had spent a couple of nights earlier, and also had some venison hanging in a tree maturing!!
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"!!