Set off at about 0750, about 15 minutes after Phil and Viggo, and arrived at Manuka Hut about 1610 after almost 23km. Had the GPS on pause for about the first 750m (25min) of the walk up Hakatere Stream after leaving the hut (still can't get it right)!! Of that, about 7.5hr was walking time. We ended up ascending over 900m in total and descending over 1000m so it was a solid day. Both our bodies were a bit niggly today so we were pretty happy with the progress in the end. GPS data is here.
The first 7km was walking up first the North Branch Ashburton River, followed by Round Hill Creek. This was nominally 51 river crossings but the reality was we as spent a lot of time walking up the creeks also! There had been a reasonable bit of rain overnight and the creeks were flowing quite well so it wasn't a ”doddle” in that you had to think about many of the crossings - but nothing dangerous and nothing much over my knees.
Then it was another 300m of climb over 2km, up to Clent Hills Saddle at almost 1500m asl. The weather was windy but fine so we had some stunning views. Someone had also put two chairs up there so we duly sat in them for a snack! Then it was into some scree sidles as we headed downward. Otherwise we were generally in tussock country, although also populated with matagauri and with spaniard, which is an incredibly nasty spiky plant which you should try and avoid at all costs (not always successfully in our case!). At one stage we came across a section where it was a (Hobson’s) choice between wading through matagauri or spaniard - no contest: matagauri was the winner!
A brief video below from Clent Hills Saddle. Have reduced it to 4MB only, so apologies if it slows page loading a bit!!
Finally we got down onto some flatter country for the last 6.5km to Manuka Hut. When we arrived we could see three horses in the yard next to the hut. We knew that Phil and Viggo were there ahead of us so thought it might be full (6 bunk hut). Turns out it was a young lady named Blythe who had just finished up working at Mesopotamia Station and was riding her horses back up through the country to her home in Hawkes Bay! (She has a Facebook page at: https://m.facebook.com/BlythesLife/?ref=bookmarks). Her father and brother had walked in to the hut to catch up with her. Belinda, of course, had a great time talking horses. Blythe carries everything with her, including shoeing gear etc. She even makes her own saddle bags for the horses - incredibly able and self-sufficient. This being New Zealand, it turns out I had met her dad and worked on funding for a research project with him back in one of my previous lives - it really is a small world! We offered Blythe a place for her and her horses if she gets near us on her way up the North Island.
All three of the family ended up sleeping outside so it was the four of us in the hut - all in bed by about 2030!
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"!!