Got up around 0630 and the four of us left at pretty much the same time just after 0800. Best guess is we did just over 14km in 5.5 hours walking time. Twice during the day I left the watch on pause (dummy!) so, while the track will look ok, albeit with a couple of straight lines on it, the time and distance is it. Anyway, the data, for what it's worth, is here.
This was probably the most spectacular day, view-wise, of the TA so far. We set off at the same time as Phil and Viggo, turning west from the hut and heading up a narrow stream valley (still Bush Stream? Not sure), crossing back and forth across the stream. It was about a 5km hike rising about 600m to Stag Saddle, pretty steep in places, but easing off a little as we neared the saddle. Not as steep overall as yesterday's climb over Bullock Bow Saddle. The guys, as usual, pulled ahead of us as we took our time on the steady climb through tussock and swampy areas. There were a few little snow patches as we neared the saddle at 1925m, nominally the highest point on TA. The day was fine and clear for us so we had some great views.
Samuel had left after us but passed us at the saddle as we were on the phone sorting out some things (yes - there was cell reception!). Luckily this included sorting out some accommodation at Tekapo, which was pretty full! Samuel followed the guys in scrambling up onto the ridge to the west of the saddle and heading down that rather than the “main” route down the valley floor. We followed, initially across rocks and then onto a scree slope, eventually creeping under some slushy snow (quite steep and very slippery due to melting snow) to get onto the ridge. The views down and across the Macaulay River valley to the Southern Alps were just stunning. While Stag Saddle is nominally the highest point on TA, this ridge option actually takes you a little higher to around 1945m (according to the Suunto). We would recommend this option to everyone as long as the weather allows for it. We followed this ridge down for maybe 9km, enjoying views all the way, until we eventually dropped down to join another bulldozed track coming in from the upper part of Lake Tekapo.
Below is a video taken part way down the ridge from Stag Saddle. And just ignore where I make reference to "Lake Pukaki" - I meant Lake Tekapo !!!
A couple of kms and one stream crossing saw us arrive at Camp Stream Hut after an amazing day’s walking. The guys were there ahead of us, as was Tomas, a nobo walker from the Czech Republic. This was a small 6-bunk hut with little room and shortish bunks - operated by the Mackenzie Alpine Trust. B had been keen to spend a night under the stars so she set up a mattress outside. Viggo decided he had better try it as well so he also spent the night outside. The rest of us bunked inside with the door open. B said she had a great night, waking around 0230 for an hour or so during which time she saw a whole bunch of shooting stars and a couple of satellites :-). The temp was not too cold and the wind also was not too bad, so a good night to test the outdoor sleeping!
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"!!