Section 13: Mavora Walkway and Mararoa River

Greenstone Carpark- Junction of SH94 and Princhester Rd
94 km
4 days
Resupply in Te Anau

 

In Queentown there is a break in the trail because no tracks connect to the next section on the other side of Lake Wakatipu,  so we have to either take a water taxi or hitch around the lake. We choose the latter and head for Glenorchy, a tiny little town also known as the “gateway to paradise”. The actual town called paradise is a couple of kilometers further down the road. Glenorchy is a hidden gem for the mountain lovers. Situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and overlooking the peaks of the Southern Alps with Mount Earnslaw dominating its skyline, Glenorchy offers beautiful scenery just like Queenstown but without the crowds. It’s a great place to relax for a day before we get back on the trail.

Glenorchy is beautifully situated

Glenorchy is beautifully situated

We stay the night in Glenorchy and have dinner at the hotel. We order a fisherman’s basket off the pub menu, which earns us a relocation from the restaurant to the bar. The restaurant is more for fancy food apparently. But when the order is brought over we are presented with a giant plate full of fancy looking fish, not resembling a bar-style basket . It turns out this is the 85 dollar fish platter. Oops! We get it for the same price as the basket. Seems this is our lucky day. Although no chips with this one and the entire baby squids don’t look very palatable. But I guess I shouldn’t look a given squid in the mouth, if I manage to find it, so instead I try to nibble on some legs.
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Day 65: Greenstone Carpark to Taipo Hut (21km/7hours)

We get up early this morning because it might not be so easy getting a ride to the trail head as it is on a dead end unsealed road on the other side of the lake. But we’ve managed some tough hitches before so I’m not that concerned. Unfortunately the weather is not great and I don’t expect many day hikers heading up today. After about 10 minutes the shuttle service pulls up. The driver is going to the trail head to pick up some clients and can take us up for five dollar each. We decide to take it as there is not much traffic and this is a bargain compared to the shuttle prices. About an hour and a half later we are at the start of the Greenstone Trail. It’s quite hot and humid, but still dry, fingers crossed it will stay like that.
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The first section of the trail sidles through some open beech forest along the Greenstone River up to Greenstone Hut. It’s very busy on this section of the trail with tour groups, but they’ll head in the other direction after this hut. We stop for lunch at the hut where we run into about five other Te Araroa hikers; the trail is getting very busy.

Heading up to the hut

Heading up to the hut

Around 3:30 we head out again. From Greenstone Hut the track climbs up and around to the Passburn Valley. Near the valley head the track drops to a creek and then climbs back up to the saddle from where we have very good views over the valley. The last bit of the trail is quite swampy and it starts to drizzle again. Around 6:30pm we reach Taipo Hut. Apparently we cannot drink the water from the tank at the moment since it contains a drowned possum. So I head down to the river to get some water and wash the thick layer of mud of my legs.

Day 66: Taipo Hut to Careys Hut (18km, 5,5hours)

From the hut we cross the Mararoa River via a swingbridge. From there the track follows the marker poles through open tussock, which is very swampy. It starts to drizzle and after a while this turns into a steady downpour.

Some foggy mountains

Some foggy mountains

Finally Boundary Hut comes in sight.The bridge to the hut is all the way down trough some head-high grass so I get a last thorough soaking, but it doesn’t make much of a difference at this point.  A good place to hide from the rain a bit and eat loads of chocolate to cheer up.
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From Boundary hut it’s a quick six kilometer walk on a 4WD track to Careys Hut. Since the hut is also accessible by car it is quite crowded and we opt to pitch the tent near the hut. There is a nice fire going so I can hang up my wet clothes and warm up with some hot chocolate.
Day 67: Careys Hut to Mararoa River (~30km/8hours)

From Careys Hut we follow the edge of Mavora Lake to the campsite at the lake’s southern end. It is very windy and the waves on the lake make it feel as if I’m walking along the coast. We take a brief brake at the campsite but the insane amount of sand flies drives us away. The Movora Lakes Campsite also marks our official cross-over into Southland, the last region of the trail.

Mavora Lakes

Mavora Lakes

We continue south to a swing bridge that crosses the Mararoa River at the lake’s outlet. It has been raining quite a bit the past few days and the river is roaring. The trail notes say that careful assessment is required to determine if the river can be forded safely. I’m pretty sure it cannot at this point. So instead of heading down to Kiwi Burn Hut, which would mean a diversion or crossing the river later, we cross the swing bride and follow the road for a bit. It is pouring and the distant thunder is rapidly closing in. The gravel road is lined with farms on either side so it is tricky to find a spot to pitch the tent. We find a wool shed that provides shelter and water (which is gushing of the roof) so we make a stop to cook dinner.

Hiding in the wool shed

Hiding in the wool shed

Luckily the weather clears up and we make our way towards the river to look for a suitable campsite for the night. We have to negotiate one barbed wire fence but other then that it is easy going.

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Some obstacles on the way…

Day 68: Mararoa River to SH94 (25km/5hours)

Officially the Te Araroa follows the Mararoa River bank and according to the trail notes the trail is “occasionally damp underfoot and a little slow through long grasses”. We try to follow the marker poles for a while, but after days of rain the trail is more then a little damp; it is boggy and flooded in places and the going is very slow through thorn bushes and high grass. So we decide to bail to the Mavora Lakes Road. It is a long road walk but easy going and the sheep along the way are entertaining.
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We reach the highway around noon and walk down the road to the start of the next section: the Takitimu Track. From there we hitch to Te Anau to resupply.
The Mavora River

The Mararoa River

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