Got away about 0740 on a chilly morning. We did almost 11km in about 5h15 of walking arriving at 1430 having had a few good stops along the way. However, in that 11km we went up over 1060m and down over 1200m in total - so not a simple walk in the park! The GPS data for the day is here.
Last night another young woman, Holly, joined us in the hut. She works at Outward Bound and was attending a friend's wedding in Queenstown. So, as you do, she had decided to come early and walk the Motatapu Track to Queenstown!! We got away at about 0730, just behind David. It was cold enough that as we dropped down into the gully in front of the hut there was a definite frost! Our hands were pretty cold to start but we headed uphill to warm up and to seek out some early morning sun! Today was basically all uphill and downhill - with a little bit of sidling - not really any flat stuff until we got to within a km or so of Roses Hut.
We basically had two sets of 400m+ up and downs today so we knew what to expect, more or less. If you follow the link above to the GPS info for the day and turn on the satellite imagery on the map, it gives you a clear picture of what we did. The DoC warnings for this section suggest it is pretty tough with steep ridgeline climbs and descents and steep sidles. With my lack of a head for heights in wide open spaces I wasn't sure how I would go. However, the reality was that is was no problem at all - not much worse than a walk on steeper bits on the farm at home (that was a relief for me)!
We started off up through rocky tussock land (again!) and made steady progress toward the first of our 1220m high points.
One bit of excitement for the day was a close encounter with a karearea (NZ falcon). We were near a stile on the first high point of the day and Belinda's attention was caught by an old pair of hobnail boots tied to a waratah (which was somewhat attention-grabbing!) - I noticed a couple of meters away a bird flapping around close to the ground. I couldn't immediately see what it was until it started to take off, when it became obvious. We think it was probably feeding on something but neglected to actually look! Fantastic to see one so close - B did manage a quick snap as it took off.
Then it was back down to around 750m before heading up again to the second high point of the day. We stopped at this second 1200m peak for 45 minutes or so for lunch and a quick internet catch-up, as we had some reception. Then it was, yet again, a steep descent back below 700m with a final very gentle uphill to the hut. We stopped at the river a couple of hundred metres before the hut (right beside the main access road for Motatapu / Mt Soho Stations) to fill up, although it turned out there was a little stream quite close to the hut which also provided for water (see dead bird story below!).
David and Jack were both there ahead of us and we also found a couple of farmers from the Hakataramea - Bruce and his wife Chris - with whom we had some great chats. On another matter entirely, we had been hearing stories from a number of days back about a dead bird in the water tank at Roses Hut and had thought we would do something about it as no-one else seemed to have! Turns out that Bruce had the same thought and had immediately got on to draining the tank and cleaning it out - apparently he enlisted the aid of Jack (a bit younger and agile!) and sent him into the tank to scoop out sludge!! Anyway - a good job done Bruce; just have to wait for the next rain to fill up the tank again.
Then Tom from Scotland came in (he was just walking from Arrowtown to Wanaka as conditioning for more tramping). With the four from Israel, Belgium and Canada (Daniel Jordan Darcy plus one other who liked to walk on his own at the back) arriving later, that made 11 in a 12 bunk hut. We were all sitting around at 1945 when Jack saw another 2 people half way down the last ridge. So looks like it will be 13! The late arrivers were sobo (fast) hikers who settled for putting up their tent.
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"!!