Set of at 0645 and started climbing toward Mt Bruce. Ended up getting to Hamilton Hut around 1500 (again forgetting to turn the GPS tracking off for half an hour!). We covered around 17km and tried to take it fairly easy, walking for 7 hours out of the 8.25 hours. That is about the suggested time of 7 to 8 hours so we did pretty well for our first day back on the job - including around 850m of ascent and 750m descent! GPS track for the day is here.
We started off through beech forest but it was still quite misty so we weren't seeing too much, although it was helping keep the temp down which was good! It was due to be 32deg in Chch today and the Suunto said it was 30deg in the shade when we stopped for lunch at West Harper Hut and still 30 at Hamilton Hut at 1530!
After climbing through beech and some Douglas fir we broke out into tussock (bits were swampy) on the face of Mt Bruce. We continued around the face but the mist was still reasonably dense. As we got a little higher toward Lagoon Saddle the mist around us cleared a little. We could see the hills, but the Waimakariri River valley and up towards Arthur's Pass was completely shrouded still, as the photos show.
Over the saddle it was down towards the Harper River through more mainly beech forest.
We had expected to be in the riverbed for much of the rest of the day but in fact we ended up walking mainly up, down and along beside the river!
Just as we broke out into the river flat we stopped for a break and met a Finnish couple who were NOBO - so had a pleasant chat with them.
Carried on down the river, stopping for lunch at West Harper Hut for 30 minutes or so before tackling the last stretch to Hamilton Hut.
Again there were quite a few little ups and downs through forest alongside the river before we crossed the Harper on a swingbridge not far from Hamilton Creek. The is a nice new swingbridge across the Hamilton Creek although B topped up her water and crossed the creek instead :-) Just across the creek we ran into a pleasant English guy named Pete who was heading south to Harper Village. As it was a short run (18km) he had stayed at Hamilton Hut until 1430 so he didn't get to Harper Village too early (avoid sandflies as he is sleeping under a fly!).
We wandered upstream for 5min or so to the hut (known in some circles as the Hamilton Hilton!) - a lovely 20 bunk hut with a grand stone fireplace as it's centrepiece! Not long after we arrived, a DoC ranger arrived in on a circuit checking tracks, huts and facilities. He was our only company for the night!
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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"!!