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Day 135-138

Day 135: Glenorchy to Taipo hut

We had booked a shuttle to take us to the Greenstone carpark, where the trail starts up again after Queenstown. It took a group up to Mt Earnslaw trailhead first so it took us about 1.5 hours to get to our trailhead. The views from the road were great though so it went by quickly. The first section of trail followed the Greenstone track, a very popular track, which was so easy after Motatapu. There wasn’t much ascent/descent and you could mostly walk without looking where to place your feet since it didn’t have many rocks or roots. The track was mostly in the forest along the Greenstone river and passed a few waterfalls and streams cascading down to the river.

Greenstone track through the forest
One of many waterfalls we passed

We stopped for lunch at a meadow and then continued on to the Greenstone hut, which we didn’t stop at. From Greenstone hut, we took the Mavora lakes walkway, leaving behind the super track that was the Greenstone track. This track wasn’t so bad at first, but quickly deteriorated into the track with the most windfall yet. It was fun at first to figure out going around or over/under them, but after too many to count, it was just plain exhausting.

An example of some windfall across the track

The track finally emerged from the forest and then went through some open tussocky and boggy fields. It was easier going than the forest, but still not the easiest terrain. At least the views were great.

Open views after emerging from the forest

I was relieved to finally see Taipo hut since you don’t see it until you’re pretty much arrived. It’s a four bunk hut although the bunks are very wide, sort of like small doubles. It’s just perfect since it’s the same group of us as last night.

Day 136: Taipo hut to Carey’s hut

The trail today was just absolutely stunning. The track meandered through the Mararoa river valley with mountains rising all around us.

View leaving Taipo hut

The first part of the day to Boundary hut was along a hiking track that was fairly easy. The second part of the day was along a 4wd drive track and even easier. I could spend a fair amount of time enjoying the view as I went along.

As we approached Carey’s hut, North Mavora Lake came into view and Carey’s hut sits on it’s shore.

Carey’s hut

I was warm enough when I arrived that I took a very quick dip in the lake. There was plenty of time to relax since we arrived mid afternoon. A few trucks passed by on the road during the afternoon/evening, but no one else came to the hut, so our quartet has it all to ourselves again.

Day 137: Carey’s hut to Kiwi Burn hut

Well, no one else came to the hut until sometime after 10 pm, when two men with very bright headlamps busted in. They were immediately apologetic for waking us up and then went outside to set up their tent although we still got a light show through the hut window for the next hour or so as they did so. It was still better than them banging around inside. In the morning they turned out to be an Australian father-son duo doing a few days of hiking.

The morning was quite overcast and windy with the occasional rain shower. I donned my rain gear fearing the worst and set off along the 4wd track. It didn’t take long for me to be too hot and since it wasn’t really raining, I took off the rain gear a few minutes in.

Walking along North Mavora lake

The track followed the shore of North Mavora Lake until we got to the Mavora Lakes campground. There weren’t many people around, just a few loading some horses into trailers. The track then continued to South Mavora Lake and the Mararoa river. After the campsite, we were back on a hiking trail, through beech forest, but the track was quite easy with no real climbs and very few blowdowns to negotiate.

Cruising along the forest track carpeted with Beech leaves

The kms went by quickly enough and we made it to Kiwi Burn hut by late afternoon in a light rain. It’s a cute 12 bunk hut that we have all to ourselves again. Despite Cécile’s Garmin saying there was 0% chance of rain tonight, it did start pouring rain at about 7pm. We’re hoping that it won’t rain too much tonight and that we’ll still be able to cross the Mararoa river tomorrow morning, although there is a bridge about 3km back that we can use if needed.

Day 138: Kiwi Burn hut to Te Anau

It rained all night although in the morning it was only raining on and off. We could see that that the small stream next to the hut had swelled overnight and was gushing instead of the trickle it had been. We weren’t optimistic for crossing the Mararoa river and were resigned to using the bridge. I hadn’t bargained on the Kiwi Burn being much of an issue but shortly after leaving the hut, we reached a river that was much deeper and broader than the ankle deep skip and a hop across it had been the previous day. We linked up to form a line and ventured in. The water got up to the tops of our thighs at the deepest part and was quite swift. I felt very stable crossing in the group though. We were 100% certain at this point that we were going to use the bridge. So we back tracked the 3km and crossed safely before heading up to a gravel road that parallels the trail since the trail is apparently so overgrown that even the trail notes suggest the road as being a good option.

View of the Mararoa river where we used the bridge to cross, the sidestream pouring into the river was just a trickle yesterday afternoon

We were also hoping to possibly get a ride instead of road walking the rest of the day. The road was quite exposed and the wind coming from the South (ie. Antarctica) was very cold.

Cold day, yup that’s more snow the mountains

Coupled with us being damp from rain and rivers, it was impossible to stay warm. We walked as quickly as we could and I put my poles away so that I could keep my hands in my pockets since they were numb despite the wind mitts I had on. A few cars did pass, but no one stopped to take us. One person with a large van that was ‘full’ even told us to ‘stay warm’, which was the least helpful thing anyone has ever said to me and I had a few choice words for them (only in my head of course). After a few hours, a lovely couple in a van did stop for us and so kindly put our wet packs on what must have been their bed and then sat us wet, dirty hikers down on the other end of the mattress. They dropped us at the highway and then it was another very cold wait to get another ride. Thankfully another couple in a camper van stopped after about 15 minutes to pick us up, but it had poured on us again at this point so we got their camper a bit wet too. They had a very cute cat called Blue travelling with them. They dropped us in Te Anau, where we checked into the hostel and then went to the cafe to eat. We all got hot drinks and I had a hash brown stack (hash browns stacked with bacon, tomatoes, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce). As we ate, we booked ourselves onto a day tour to Milford Sound for tomorrow. Feeling somewhat refreshed, we headed back to the hostel to shower and rest before going out to get our resupply. I was happy to find a small bulk section at the Fresh Choice super market so was able to get some zero packaging muesli, trail mix, lentils and dried fruit there.

My Achilles didn’t bother me much at all over this last section, which has been great. However, when I don’t take anti-inflammatories I do notice other pains in my feet and knees by the end of the day…


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