To Comyns Hut
I was the only SOBO on the 8 am shuttle to the south side of the Rakaia river. There was also a French NOBO who told me he started 15 days ago, but is moving very fast as he wants to complete the whole trail before winter sets in. He said that most of the NOBOs around now are only doing the South Island.
We drove up past the braided river and I could see why we were not allowed to cross it. It is very wide and has many braids.
The first 3 hours was following a farm track, firstly across a station where I met numerous cows and their large calves. They are obviously used to us trampers as I had to walk around them even if they were sat in the middle of the track. No manners.
I started out in fog which got thicker the higher I climbed. I was sweating profusely as it was hot and very humid. My shoes were soaked from the wet grass.
I worried a bit about the second half of the day which has a few tricky parts to find the track if the fog continued. I asked for it to burn off and it did.
By the time I reached the A Frame hut the sun was out and I sat outside to eat my lunch and write this. There was a nice new toilet.. thanks DOC Department of Conservation.
I read the hut book , seeing the names of the people going before me. These Intentions Books are a safety measure. Everyone who passes a hut, whether they stay the night or not should fill in the book. Search and Rescue (SARS) will check all the hut books in the area first when a tramper goes missing. This will guide them to the correct area to begin searching. i.e. after the last hut book entry.
I have talked with all the foreigners about this and see that most people around me are complying. Some thought it is about who has paid so were not writing in the books. After my discussion about the benefit of their mother knowing their last known where-a-bouts, if they go missing, they are more likely to fill it in.
I sat in the sun and began to read a book that was in the hut. If it was any good I would take it with me as I only have 3- 4 days of food with me so can afford the weight of a paperback. It was worth carrying so now I have a book to read. Hooray.
The sign said 2 hours to Comyns Hut but I arrived in 1.5 hours. It is the “new” hut as it was built in 1967 to replace the original hut built in the 1890s. It was upgraded in 2008 so the beds and mattresses are in good order. It seems to be made from Meccano or shop shelving. But it works
I was first here so went down to the creek for a wash then dragged a mattress out in the sheltered side of the hut to enjoy my tomato soup and my book.
Shortly NOBO Dylan arrived. He had been in the fog all morning too. He is a 17 year old from Dunedin walking with his parents who had said are way older than me. They are 65 and 71. He had only just convinced them to let him go ahead on his own as they were too slow for him. He was to wait at the A Frame hut for them the next day. The hut filled up with a group of 5 who had been together for quite some time and I had thought I had “lost” them. I felt a bit left out so glad to have my book.
Day 116 21 km 8 hours to Manuka Hut
I was first away I the morning, probably because no one talked to me. The first 3 hours were following a small river. So cross the river, walk along beside the river walk in the river, cross the river, walk alongside the river, cross the river, walk in the river etc. For 3 hours. Very hard on my feet especially as my shoes are falling apart. I have new ones 2 days away in Geraldine.
I met up with the parents who were pleased to know their son was okay.
Then the day changed for the better. The river disappeared and started to enjoy the amazing country we live in.
Wow New Zealand is beautiful. Just walked 3 days through a high country farm purchased by the government to keep out of foreign hands and conserve it for future generations. Money well spent.. try and find anywhere like this in Europe and it would be covered in houses and industry. Here are some photos although you need to come and be here to really understand it.
There was some very large scree slopes to cross. Much bigger than I had ever come across before. But I have no fear anymore so I enjoyed them.
21 km and 8 hours later I arrived at Manuka Hut to be told that the hut was full in no uncertain terms. Damn unfriendly lot! So I put up my tent for the first time in ages and enjoyed my own space.
Day 117 16 Feb to Geraldine
I was awake at 5.30 so up and ready to go at 6.30am. I had to walk to the Rangitaka River which is another river we cannot cross. As a result we need to get a ride out and around the river. I asked the unfriendlies if they had booked a shuttle to be told that it was for them to know and me to find out. What has happened to the Trail family attitude?
So I headed off knowing I had 33km walk. The track was easy, a 4wd track first of all through conservation land then through a big station (farm) . So I punched out 12.5km in 2.5 hours. I was on a mission to get to the river before the others and and a ride into Geraldine.
After crossing the farm I was on a gravel road enjoying a really fast pace. I was feeling good and happy to be on my own. But as I walked along a road a nice fisherman pulled over and offered me a lift just before the track went off road again. How could I resist a ride to Mt Somers and the chance to hear all about the local merino and deer farming. Mt Somers is a tidy little village with a nice General Store where I bought a pie and coffee for my second breakfast.
Then I put my thumb out and got picked up by a decommissioned fire truck.. The man had bought the truck to convert to a horse float and accommodation. He was going all the way to Invercargil which is just 100km from Bluff, the end of the Te Araroa, and offered to take me all the way. About 700km. I was not even tempted and happily allowed him to drop me off in Geraldine.
My new shoes were here and I picked up a few supplies for the next section which will take me to Lake Tekapo. I stayed at the Rawhiti Backpackers along with a group of young (14-20 year olds) Japanese boys who were riding the South Island section of Te Aotearoa which is the cycle trail the length of New Zealand. Aussie Jimmy was there also but he wasn’t feeling well so was resting up again. He seems to go long and hard then crash as he passes me then I catch up with him again. I think my slow and steady is the way to go.