Section 5: Boyle village to Arthur’s Pass

Boyle Village-Arthur’s Pass
115 kilometers
8 days
Resupply in Greymouth

Day 25: Boyle Village to Windy Point (10km/4 hours)
Hitching back from Christchurch to the trail head at Boyle Village was easy and at 2pm we already had coffee and a free muffin and are ready to start. The trail notes said its 6.5 kilometers to the first hut, but closer inspection of the map tells us it’s more like 26.5 kilometers. Oops, typo. Probably won’t make that today. First we have to cross the Boyle river. It’s quite high, up to my thighs, and a bit tricky to balance with 8 days worth of food in my pack. The first section is not that much fun. It runs in sight of the road that keeps tempting as we are struggling through nettles and thorn bushes crossing the river numerous times. It’s quite boggy and the poles are very far apart so we get confused a couple of times. It’s crap, but I guess the shitty days will make me appreciate an actual track better. Still, in hindsight probably should have stayed on the road. We finally make it up to windy top, which is quite aptly named. We manage to find a bit of a sheltered spot for the tent and also find a creek a bit further down for water. The shoes are soaked but there is still some sun to dry them out.FB_IMG_1454577636293

Day 26: Windy point to Hope Kiwi Lodge (15km/5hours)

About ten minutes walking from Windy Point we reach the intersection with the Harper Pass track. The track goes through beech forest and some farmlands. The cows look curious at these crazy people hauling big packs through their pasture. There are a few bulls as well, they are huge and always make me a bit anxious (I’ve already experienced one bull chase before and that was enough). It’s very hot and by the time we get to the hut it is raining.
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Day 27: Hope Kiwi Lodge to Hanui Hut 3 (29km/10 hours)
In the morning it’s dry and sunny. New Zealand weather is so changeable. I start out with dry shoes but it won’t last long with all the high wet grass. Also my soles are becoming detached so not so much waterproof anymore.It’s relatively easy walking through some cattle flats and forested sections. A short climb leads up to kiwi saddle from where we have a first glimpse of Lake summer.

More river crossings...

More river crossings…

Around 1pm we finished the first 19km to Hanui hut. We have lunch and continue walking. We pass some hot springs on the way. You can smell them before you see them. Also the sign that says: “Amoebic Meningitis is fatal and caused by water entering nasal passages. Do not immerse head.”, gives us a heads up. It’s a really warm day and the water feels very hot. I manage to stick a toe in before the sand flies are all over me and sent me running. Hot Springs may have to wait for another day. Around 6 pm we are at Hanui hut 3. There is a river close-by and we go for a swim. Miraculously there are no sand flies or amoeba!

Day 28: Hanui hut 3 to Lock stream hut (15km/7 hours)
Today is the first hike of the new year (I hardly realized it: no fireworks or oliebollen out here in the bush). New years resolution… Hmm, walk some more?

DSC_1287We walk through forests and cross a 3 wire bridge for the first time. It looks scarier then it actually is.We ascend down to the river which we follow for a while. There is a very string stench in the air and not much later we find the source: a bloated cow carcass right in the middle of our traiI. It’s either stepping on that or detouring a bit through the swamp. Not a difficult decision. First wet feet of the new year.
After that we climb steeply up to Harper Pass. There should be a lot of kiwi present in this area and I’m trying to spot the footprints, but no luck. From the pass we have some nice views over the valley. At some points the trail is quite overgrown and its hard to find the route. We reach the Lock stream hut around 3pm. Its very hot and we find a good swimming hole. Nice and refreshing. I haven’t had this many baths in a row for a while. A very clean start of 2016!
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View over the valley from Harpers Pass

DSC09939 Day 29 and 30: Lock stream hut to Morrison Footbridge (23km/ 8 hours)
DSC_1302It’s raining when we wake up. From the hut we travel down to the Taramakau river, which we cross many times. We also lose the track many times. We set up camp on the flats about 7km from the footbridge. Luckily we get a dry spell for a few minutes to pitch the tent. We decide to wait out the rain for a bit.
The next morning it’s still raining so we have breakfast and wait for a while. Around 1pm it got dryer and we brave outside. We walked a part of the flood track which was terribly overgrown and hard to follow so at the first opportunity we decided to descent into the riverbed and follow the river for the rest of the way until the footbridge. By 5pm we reach the Morrison footbridge. It’s raining and a bit tempting to just hitch to town and grab a coffee I must admit. No wimping out now. We set up the tent close to the road. I hope tomorrow is better because then we will start the Deception Mingha track which should apparently not be attempted in bad weather as there are many river crossings.

No more pics of these days as my camera was snug in the dry bag

Day 31: Morrison Footbridge to Goats Pass hut (18.5 km/9 hours)
This part of the trail follows the Deception Mingha track which is the mountain run component of the Coast to Coast race. Top Athletes apparently run the whole thing , almost 30 kilometer, In under three hours. We will take two days. Its a rough track which involves a lot of river crossings and some route finding. We follow the Deception River up to a gorge.

Going up the Deception Mingha Track

Going up the Deception Mingha Track

The river is pretty high after two days of rain and flows very strong. This is the hardest crossing so far. We climb up through the gorge which involves lots of rock scrambling and river crossing. Fun, but tiring too. We are overtaken by some runners who probably training for the race next month. At one point we spot some Waiau (blue ducks) and we take a picture for DOC because they are monitoring their population since they are endangered.

Little break at the waterfall

Little break at the waterfall

We climb up through Good Luck Creek and reach Goat Pass hut. We also meet a hunter at the hut. Most of the huts around were originally build as deer culling huts. Hunters would shoot the deer and collect the tails for which they get a reward. He has been coming up here for many years and knows the area well.There are a few other people staying at the hut. They asked if we came up Deception Mingha and how the trail was. Apparently yesterday a hiker died on the river crossing. The river was crossable now, but it makes me realize how fast it can change. Although I don’t know if that contributed to the accident.

View from the Goats Pass hut

View from the Goats Pass hut

Day 32: Goat Pass hut to Klondyke Corner (Arthur’s Pass): 18.5 km, 5 hours
We had a good sleep in and left the hut around 9:30am. The trail is quite easy especially compared to yesterday. It follows some boardwalks and descents into the valley. There we walk through the riverbed to the road. We walk the road section to Klondyke Corner from where we can start the next section.
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From there its an easy hitch into Arthur’s Pass village: a tiny mountain village with a seriously overpriced and under stocked general store and even more overpriced cafe. However, they sell gigantic ice-creams for only five bucks. Definitely the best value for money calorie-wise.

Outside the cafe the Kias are busy destroying cars and coffee cups.

Outside the cafe the Kias are busy destroying cars and coffee cups.

We went to DOC to get the weather forecast and report our rare blue duck sighting. The lady at the desk scribbles it down in a little note book and tries to sound enthusiastic, but this seemed mainly to please us. The forecast looks good so tomorrow we can do a side trip up to avalanche peak. Jack will run and I think I’ll just walk and take more pictures.

Day 33: Side trip to Avalanche peak (half day trip)
What to do on a day off? Well, some more hiking of course. Today we went up to Avalanche peak. Jack running and me going at a normal pace. The views on the way are stunning. It looks out over Arthur’s Pass and Mt.Rolleston.
DSC09996DSC00012On the top I meet some playful Keas that are very interested in my hiking poles. I saw more of them down by the cafe but they look much better in their natural habitat, wrecking hiking poles instead of windscreen wipers.
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The last night we freedom camped to compensate for the 30 dollar pizza we just purchased. The sign said ‘big enough to share’. I guess you can always share the real question is: will you still be hungry after? In this case the answer was YES. So we grabbed some brownies, a sandwich and more ramen to complete the meal. We camped close to the Devils Punchbowl that night a very pretty waterfall.
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A little South Island Robin came to inspect our tent in the evening. Probably its just using us as bug bait.

A little South Island Robin came to inspect our tent in the evening. Probably its just using us as bug bait.

 

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