I got up at 0515 for a toilet stop and was greeted by frost and ice on toilet door handle - definitely chillier than yesterday!!. We eventually got away just before 0700, soon after Dave headed back to Hurunui Hut. Ended up doing almost 31km, setting up the tent at about 1720 alongside the Taramakau about 3.5km before the Otira confluence. A 10½ hour plus day with around 9 hours of walking. The days GPS track is here.
It was mostly bush margin up the Hurunui but also included a little river flat. After about 2km we crossed Cameron Stream on a 3-wire “bridge” - thought we would try it rather than fording the stream as it meant our feet stayed dry (and it was a new experience for us)! Passed Cameron Hut on the flats soon after and headed up through forest to Harper bivvy. The route to Harper Pass started fairly gently but was followed by a couple of river crossings and a 20min steeper pinch up to the pass itself. Reached the pass at 1040 after 3h15 walking (3h40 in total). Belinda very soon found some kiwi tracks in the mud, as the notes suggest!
The drop down (300m or so vertical) after Harper Pass to the swingbridge was mostly quite steep and rocky / rubbly underfoot - taking about one hour. We crossed the river early onto the true right - there were a couple of places where the Taramakau River had scoured out the original track quite badly and a bit of dexterity was required!
About 2.5km after the pass, we crossed another swingbridge and headed down the true left of the river toward Locke Stream Hut. Initially much of this was in the bush although a couple of spots of river boulder walking had to be negotiated where the big flood earlier in the year had destroyed parts of the track alongside the river. There was a little bit of river flat walking involved but not large amounts. Surprisingly we powered down and reached the hut, from the swingbridge, in 45 mins even though the notes suggest 1.5 hours. Arrived about 1240 after 16.2km and stopped for a 30 min lunch in the sun before heading for Kiwi Hut.
Another 2h10 of walking down the river valley, with a few crossings back and forth over bits of the river, saw us at the turnoff to Kiwi Hut at about 1520 after 24.5km. As we wanted to get to Goat Pass Hut tomorrow night, we decided not to stop at Kiwi (our original thought) but to carry on down the river for a bit longer and camp, to reduce the length of tomorrow's effort. One thing we did notice today is a significant number of helicopter trips up and down the valley - ferrying hunters and/or supplies in and out. There has been a lot of activity due to the fine weather after a period of bad weather due to cyclone Debbie's aftermath.
We soon came to the confluence of the Taramakau and Otehake - both of which can be a challenge if river levels are up. However, flows were no problem and we crossed below the confluence with no issues - about where the GPS track said - interestingly there are no markers on either side that we could see to identify the crossing so it was guesswork. We just knew we needed to be on the true left so needed to cross! We ended up doing another 6.5km from Kiwi Hut, mainly down a bouldery wide riverbed, before B spied a perfect campsite just up in the forest margin. They (good camp spots) had been few and far between (titanium pegs and gravel/rocks don’t work well together), so it was great to see such a perfect spot to stop!
There was a beautiful sunset tonight looking west down the Taramakau valley towards the Otira, which made for a stunning backdrop. We were fed and into the tent by 1900. Had to kill dozens of sandflies - even a quick open of the tent to jump in introduces multitudes of the little suckers! B found an excellent trick - she just shone the headlamp on the bottom of her air mattress and as they all congregated on the lit spot, they could be easily squashed against the mattress - very clever :-)
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"!!