Arthur’s Pass Village-Rakaia Groge
Resupply in Metven
Day 36: Klondyke Corner to Lagoon Saddle A-frame Shelter (13km, 4 hours)
Because resupplying in Arthur’s Pass would mean we can eat no more pizza for the remainder of our trip, we decided to go to Greymouth. We got a ride from a friendly rescue helicopter pilot. It’s poring so we find a good indoor activity: I finally got to watch the new Star Wars. We camped at a backpackers, next to the chicken coop; what else could you expect at a place calls Noah’s Arc?
Getting a ride back to Arthur’s Pass was not so difficult. The first guy that passed picked us up. He is from Kumara and shows us the town as we drive through: school, petrol station, general store and play ground. From here it’s a bit harder and takes a while before we get picked up by a French couple that drives us back to Klondyke Corner where we left of. The first section goes over the road and it’s a bit scary when crossing the one way car bridge with a truck coming up. There are nice views though. Later you can follow a trail along the river which involves many crossings and is not far from the road. We opt for dry feet and stay on the road.
It’s late afternoon when we reach Bealey Hut which is only 5 minutes from the car park. It doesn’t get dark till after 9pm and we still have lots of energy so we continue to climb up to the Lagoon Saddle. The views are very nice in the evening light.
After the saddle the track goes down into the forest and we stop at a small A-Frame shelter. I wasn’t expecting much but it turned out to be a very cute and cozy place.
Day 37: Lagoon Saddle Shelter to Harper River Campground (~29km, 10. 5 hours)
Jack went for a run in the morning and I walked ahead with the idea that he might catch up later. The first bit of the trail goes through the forest and then the valley opens up and I follow the river on a 4WD track.
There are very few trail marker, sometimes kilometers apart, so they serve more as a confirmation then for navigation. The track is sometimes hard to pick up again after going in the riverbed so I decide to just follow the river. I have to cross the river a lot and sometimes it’s quite strong. A highlight on the trail is a rock formation called the pinnacles, but I somehow managed to miss them; probably because I was of the trail in the river bed.
Later the trail follows a paper road. There are many turn offs but no markers and I am doubting if I’m still on the track. But it’s heading in the right direction and I end up at Harper village around 6:30 pm. Jack rocks up about 30 minutes later. We camp at the free campsite owned by the Trust Power station.
Day 38: Harper River to Lake Coleridge (30km, 6 hours)
The track from Harper River to Lake Coleridge is almost entirely on a dirt road. But it’s not bad, we can walk fast and the views are great. When a car passes we get a mouth full of dust, but other then that it’s a good walk.
On the left the valley we came through yesterday, going down the road today
Around noon we reach the Rakaia River. This is classified as a hazard zone and it’s recommended that we go around it. This section is tricky because the only place to do a food drop is Lake Coleridge Lodge. However they only do this if you spend the night, which is way above our budget. They also have gas canisters and shuttle service, but again only for guests. The surrounding area is all private land and the only two legal campsites are fifty kilometers apart. Signs are posted everywhere to remind you of this and the fact that you will be fined if you’re found camping elsewhere. So basically if you do not find a ride you are f*ed.
The road is very quiet but luckily the first guy that passes picked us up and drops us at the highway. From there we get a quick ride into Metven from a local. She drives around to show us the town. I like how so many Kiwis seem to really love their hometown. It’s already late afternoon but we still manage to eat pizza, re-supply and get a ride back out to Rakaia Gorge from where we will continue the trail tomorrow. We are just in time to catch sunset over the Gorge before pitching the tent.