Section 7: Rakaia River to Rangitata River

Glenrock Stream- Potts River Car park
71km
3,5 days
Resupply in Metven, again 😉

DSC00169Te Araroa Trust has declared the Rakaia River a hazard zone which does not form part of the trail. Since it is often not safe to cross the river, we have to hitch down to the bridge and then back up to the trail head on the other side of the river. So we walked from Rakaia Gorge a couple of kilometers along the road until the turn-off to Glenrock station. There is not much traffic and it takes a couple of hours until we get a ride the first 10km. Now we have only 25 kilometers to go before we reach the trail head. We start walking down the road when we spot two people walking ahead. They must also be doing Te Araroa, why else would you walk with a big pack in the boiling sun down a dusty farm road? After about an hour of walking another car passes. There are already three people and a dog in there, but they somehow manage to squeeze the four of us plus our packs into the tiny car. Thanks to these Trail angels we make it to the trail head at Glenrock Stream just after noon.

Rakaia Gorge

Rakaia Gorge

Day 39: Glenrock Stream to Comyns Hut (15.7km / 4hours)
The track winds through farm land along the Glenrock Stream and then zig-zags up an old farm track to Turtons Saddle (1120m). Switch backs are nice for the cars, but straight up is faster.

Views from the saddle

Views from the saddle

After about an hour we stop at a small A-frame hut for a late lunch. We reach Comyns hut around 5pm. The hut is full of TA hikers: It still surprises me how many we meet on the trail. There is also a journalist in the hut doing an article for the Listener. She wants to interview everyone about their experience. But we are up and out early, so now we are mentioned in the article as “The Swiss couple that headed out at the crack of dawn.” Haha.

Cool rock formations

Cool rock formations

Most of the time we follow a 4WD track.

Most of the time we follow a 4WD track.

Day 40: Comyns Hut to Manuka Hut (22km/8, 5hours)
It’s a very rainy and cold morning. The first part goes through a gorge and we have to cross the river many times, which is fine because I don’t expect to stay dry today. It then climbs up steeply to Clents Hills Saddle at 1480 meters. This part of the track is rough and unformed. We need to pick our route over the saddle by following the orange marker poles. They are quite far apart and in the mist and rain it’s hard to spot them. But we manage. We follow the ridge and cross a number of scree slopes. The track goes down and then there is one final climb up to Mellish Saddle. It’s so cold and my toes and fingers are numb. On a clear day the saddle would have probably been a beautiful section but on this day I’m very relieved to be down. This is the coldest I have been so far. After the saddle the going gets easier on a 4WD track. I walk as fast as I can, to warm my muscles and make it to the hut as soon as possible. We stop at Manuka hut. We skipped lunch and I’m so hungry. Time for a big cup of hot chocolate, think we earned it. Shitty day but you know what they say about New Zealand: four seasons in a day, although I missed the other three.

Day 41:Manuka Hut to Lake Clearwater (26km/7,5hours)
It’s a beautiful sunny morning when we leave the hut around 8:30 am. Today is easy walking through the tussocks on a 4WD track. We walk a bit together with one of the hikers we met in the other hut. She is only 17 years old and walking by herself over the school holidays. After a few kilometers the track starts to climb up to the ridge on Emily Hill. It’s really hot and there is no shade. The track then intersects a paper road which we have to follow for a few kilometers.

Well, that's clear

Well, that’s clear

We pass Lake Emily and continue on a 4WD track through Castle Ridge station. We manage to freak out quite a few sheep on the way.

Lake Emily

Lake Emily

The road passes through the Castle Ridge station, we scared the sheep of.

The road passes through the Castle Ridge station, we scared the sheep of.

We follow the road to the trailhead of the Clearwater track. The first part is again quite easy going and then it turns of and climbs to a saddle at Mt. Guy from where we get our first view of Lake Clearwater. We set up our tent near the Lake, finding a sheltered spot a bit out of the wind. Despite its name, Lake Clearwater is filled with a thick layer of knee-deep mud. The water didn’t taste very nice either but it was the only option so we went for an extra long boil.

pitched a bit out of the wind by lake Clearwater

pitched a bit out of the wind by lake Clearwater

Drying the laundry is easy with this wind

Drying the laundry is easy with this wind

Day 42: Lake Clearwater to Potts River Car park (7km/1,5hours)
Today is a short day as we only have to walk the last bit from the Lake to the Car park from where we can hitch out. It’s chilly this morning and ominous clouds are hanging around the mountains. Despite out effort to pitch the tent in a sheltered spot, last night was extremely windy and the tent was shaking and some pegs came out.

Upside of bad weather, pretty rainbows

Upside of bad weather: pretty rainbows

As we are walking through the tussock we freak out some hares and send them fleeing for the hills. They always seem to flee uphill, running as effortless as they do on a flat stretch. Probably a strategy to shake of less fit pursuers. We reach the carpark around 10:30 am. From here you can see Mt. Sunday. It’s not a very impressive mountain, more like a rocky hill. Yet many tourists visit it because this mountain features in LOTR. A full sized set for Edoras was built on the sheer cliffs of Mt. Sunday.

Waiting by the road, in the distance is Mt. Sunday, more a hill actually (that little bump in the front)

Waiting by the road, in the distance is Mt. Sunday, more a hill actually (that little bump in the front)

We sit on the side of the road for a while and are starting to get a little desperate when we see a dust cloud in the distance. Quickly stand up, stick out the thumb and put on a smile. Alas, the car passes and we sink back down onto the gravel. But our luck hasn’t run out yet: the driver turns around! It’s a young mum with two kids in the back. She can take us straight to Metven where we can resupply. As I chat away in the front, Jack is in the back completely zoned out watching cartoons with the kids on the tablet; men and television.

 

 

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