Left Manuka hut about 0700 and finally arrived at Mt Potts Lodge around 1630. We reached the trailhead at the carpark at Potts River bridge after 33.5km and about 8 hours of walking time. It was another 3.3km and 45 minutes walk off trail to get to the Lodge, by which time we were ready for a rest (as usual the last bit was again into a stiff headwind!). GPS tracking is here.
The first 4km was a gentle walk to the Lake Emily carpark, including a small sidle around Emily Hill, and took us less than an hour. We passed George's and Jim's cars there (Blythe's father and brother) and then headed down a paper road through Castle Ridge Station until hitting the Hakatere-Heron road. We walked on the road for 4.5km before turning off into the Clearwater track which would take us a further 21km through to the Potts car park.
Not much variety in the terrain today. Mostly scrubby tussock and reasonably flat to rolling in most places, with a couple of steeper drops along the way. It was very hot and cloudless for much of the day and we were grateful for the first watercourse we came across after 6km where we could wet our caps/scarf/buff to put on our heads in order to help keep temps down. There is simply no shade to be had on the whole track so rest stops were in the sun, and hopefully out of the wind!
The wind picked up even more after midday and was a headwind for us so made things a little harder. As we neared the Potts River, the track, as per the notes, headed off through some rolling hills to avoid private land. We then headed west on bluffs well above the Potts before dropping down a steep slope onto the edge of the riverbed for the final km to the carpark and the end of the trail at the Rangitata. The final 3.3km or so was north across the bridge and up a gravel road into a strong headwind to the Lodge where we had decided to stop for the night in a comfortable room!
Phil had been speaking with Wayne from Alps 2 Ocean about a possible ride around the Rangitata. The river had been up significantly (over 200 cumecs) due to rain but was dropping. Anyway, we decided we would take the ride rather than try and cross, and Phil and Viggo agreed - so Wayne will be here to pick us up about 0830 tomorrow. In summary, a long, hot, sunny, windy, flattish day :-)
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"!!