Day 107 Te Anau to Aparima Hut via Princhester Hut, Takitimu Track

3 March, 23km
Weather is fine but a cool morning the cloud lifted by 11:00

I had two nights at Holiday Park Top10 in a room with a bed and shower. Running water and a toilet! It even had a TV that wasn’t used.

I didn’t sleep too well and woke wide awake at 2:00am. Finally I dropped off for a few hours sleep.

I had some breakfast at the Sandfly Cafe before packing up to be ready for Track Net Shuttles at 11:00. The ride will take me 33 km back to the track junction where I left it on SH 94.

The early morning mist.
While waiting for our driver to help others locate their shuttle I found these objects in the garden. Quite different than those I see on the sheep stations.

My aim was to get to the first hut, Princhester Hut, 6km walk up the gravel public road and through a working farm. As I was dropped and went through the gate a herd of sheep was guided onto the road expertly driven by dogs along the highway. This cleared the path for me to get moving in behind them.

The entrance to the public road. Princhester Rd.
Princhester Rd

The road dwindled on to a farm track just before the Hut and just beyond the tree line.

If you are a lucky tramper and know a local, they can drive you to the Princhester Hut. This will save 1.5 hrs or 6km road walking.
Princhester Hut.

I filled up my water bottles in the stream and headed off at 1:30. My intention was to stay there and get an early start tomorrow. Max texted me and they had trouble getting a hitch. He encouraged me to push on to Aparima Hut and so I did since it was so early.

From the get go it was a climb in beech forest. It became dense, muddy in parts and tight turns on narrow overgrown tracks to the saddle between Bog Burn and Waterloo Burn. These names should have given me a clue that a mud track was ahead. Even though the track was generally dry wet areas are very wet due to the water and gravity.

I stopped at 3:30 for a break in a clearing at the top of the climb. There was still 15km to get to the hut for shelter for the night. I expected to get there by 7:30 so I needed to keep stops to a minimum and get tramping.

Once at the top it descended into tussock where you couldn’t see the track but markers showed the way. Easy to loose the well trodden track in the long grass and easy to fall with an uneven path with holes, rocks and clumps of slippery grasses.

Finally at 5:00 I came to an open valley that was really difficult to navigate. I couldn’t see any markers. I walked in circles for a short time and then I spotted a marker. This marker led me in and out of stands of tightly grown bush. There were several of these to pass through and very pleasant to walk in. I saw this interesting bird sitting on the top of a sapling beech at the start of the final forest section. It was high up on the hill and the beak was similar to the takahe.

At 7:15 I noticed I was loosing the light and was glad the track then hugged the bushline on top of the knoll. It meandered through the valley with great views across the tussock valley.

At 8:45 finally I came to the sign letting me know the hut is 2km away. Uphill I climbed toward the Aparima Hut and high above the river.

With the twilight I could see the track quite clearly and so followed it until a 4WD track that led into the dark bush. I stopped to find my head torch at the top of my pack and had a pee. I also used my phone torch so I could see the triangle markers on the trees in the now pitch black.

I was 500m away from the hut so my GPS told me. I arrived at the hut, tapped in the door waking Bex and Max at 9:30. I took 8 hours, left too late in the afternoon, it took Max and Bex 7 hours.

I quickly removed the muddy shoes and socks, ate the rest of my cafe lunch with a hot cuppa and laid out my sleeping bag up on the top bunk.

A long day with no idea of where the long drop was. Max collected water earlier and made it available to me so I could get some sleep.

Day 106 Te Anau Zero Day

2 Mar, cool morning then hot and sunny.

The usual clean up day of catching up on news and reporting in. Keeping the record up to date and resting.

I’m sensing the end is near and the season is definitely changing. It is a lot colder and it gets light in the morning a lot later.

Anyway, keeping away from busy areas was easy since Te Anau had literally no people around.

I’ll spend onight at the Top10 Holiday Park and shuttle to the trail head in the late morning tomorrow.

Day 105 Kiwi Burn Hut to Te Anau

1 March, overcast light spits of rain, cold wind

We woke about the same time and slowly sorted and packed up to leave the final hut in the Mavora Lakes section.

Kiwi Burn Hut

First we had to cross the grass field and across a couple of side streams before a short beech forest track to the junction we walked yesterday. Max and Bex built a bridge of stone across each to keep the feet dry a little longer.

Finally we reached the turnoff and crossed a larger side stream to meet the Marora River. We expected the crossing to be an easy cross but the crossing was written in the guide of one ‘to be weary of’. It was a knee deep wander across. We wondered what all the fuss was about from NOBO as they passed on information a yesterday.

Across a field and follow the road 22km to the highway. Internet service brought news of the Covid outbreak and free restrictions on travel. Also the invasion of Russia into the Ukraine.

The long walk in from Kiwi Burn Hut via the road
Bex and Max
Bex and Sandra

Very few cars yet perfect overcast day to road walk. A few DOC transport passed and after about 10km one car picked all 3 of us up and took us to SH 94.

We then hitched from there into The Anau the 33km.

In Te Anau we were dropped off at Sandfly Cafe and got coffee and a bite.

Here is Bex plugging her phone into the breakfast cereal. The bag was to protect her power bank. Something to crow about writing on the bag.

We sorted out our next move independantly and I headed to my Top10 accommodation around the corner.

Ngaire was in town and leaves tomorrow for her Routeburn walk before heading back to Tauranga. We met and had a good catch up on the lake front. The cold wind sent us to the Sandfly Cafe where we had a glass of wine. 12 months to the day we went into the Urewera and tramped Moerangi Track together. We had a second glass to celebrate our recent walks.

Feeling tired I left Ngaire went to pick up a few items from the supermarket for the next section and returned to my room.

All set for a refresh day tomorrow and a zero day.

Day 104 Carey’s Hut to Kiwi Burn Hut via Mavora Camping Area

Ends Mavora Walkway, starts Mavora River Track

28 Feb, cold morning, crescent moon. The stars during the night were bright and plentiful when I got up for a pee. The crescent moon was all that was left this morning.

Very tiny spot is the moon.

The ladies yesterday suggested getting a hitch from the Mavora Campsite to the highway late tomorrow. This means missing out on Kiwi Burn Hut and the Mararoa River walk.

I really wanted to walk the River through the beech forest. I had heard it is beautiful. I also noticed many TA miss this section and hitch from the camping ground instead.

Leaving Carey’s Hut was a pretty sight

Discussions last night with Max and Bex we decided to head to Kiwi Burn Hut today. This meant a walk of 10km on the 4WD road and more muddy puddles to wade through to start the day.

The road finally gave way to beech forest and a track to the camp.

Visitors on the road. I heard a lot of swearing and yelling up ahead and around the corner came a wagon led by two horses.

The wagon driver stopped for a chat. The yelling at the horses unsettled me a little. I noticed both horses were independently trying to avoid the puddle and mud as did the riders that followed. The yelling was agressive and I thought it not a good training method. But hey I’m no expert on these things.

Because the Otago Cavalcade is cancelled this year this group decided to have their own run. Three other horses followed each with a rider.

I used the loo at the camp ground and came out to find Bex and Max deciding where to have their breakfast. They had left the hut after me. I was glad to see them again.

We ate our meal and then Ian arrived with three cold bananas. He chatted and talked about what he knew of the area and how Carey’s hut was named. He also mentioned the lack of snow in the basin above. All gone this year. Reality of what’s happening environmentally.

We 3 headed off in the direction of Kiwi Burn Hut. Through the campground and over the bridge to begin the forest river track.

It took us around the North Mavora Lake to the South Mavora Lake. Through beautiful bush and grassy areas.

We stopped for a break and more food and carried on through lovely bush before finding the hut on a piece of large grass area.

We were all tired after the fast walk. 28 km, Max said the fastest they had walked that distance even with the 2 breaks.

We washed in the stream, filled our water bottles and made our dinner. The wind was cold, it took a while to warm up and relax.

All tucked up for a river crossing together tomorrow and a hitch to Te Anau. The river crossing is written to be a challenge in the guide yet we are confident together.

Looking back up the lake we had

Day 103 Taipo Hut to Carey’s Hut via Boundary Hut, Mavora Walkway

27 Feb, 18km cool overcast morning, hot sunny windy afternoon.

It got dark at 9:30 last night. The wind howled knocking the external plumbing against the hut several times through the night. It sounded like a jet landing.

It was still dark outside at 6:30 so I rolled over and cuddled in for another hour. It was cold through the night and even colder outside.

First I had to cross the Mararoa River over the swing bridge and should have turned sharp right. Instead I followed the path to the river. It didn’t take long to find the correct markers and then follow them.

Wading through a series of side streams tramping across river terraces.

There was a note in the guide to watch for the ‘crawl under fence’.

The terraces of course had more bogs. These wet swampy areas are difficult to find the track after clearing the muddy bits.

I met several NOBO’s Jess and Blake. Jess is the daughter of Simon who I met in the Tararua section.

I saw Boundary Hut and intended to have lunch there. Some nice red spiky flowers and one Matagouri.

To get to the hut I had to find a track through matagouri and double back after crossing back over Mararoa River on a swing bridge.

Boundary Hut

This ends the tramp over Elfin Bay Station or Mavora Walkway and begins the Mavora Lakes section. I think the boundary is at Boundary hut.

Mt Mavora was on my right and highest peak in this section 1990m. The track went through the valley so no hills to climb today.

I met Ben NOBO leaving Boundary Hut heading north who gave tips on time and distance for me heading south.

After lunch I headed to Carey’s Hut, 6 km on a 4WD track. As I left half a dozen dirt track riders on their bikes drove up and around the dunes. Dusty on the road as another six came after them.

This was a quick walk along the valley following the river. It was very hot.

Over the hill was very pretty. The hut came up real quick. The road was very stoney and hard to walk on.

Inside the hut was Mum and her 2 daughters NOBO having lunch. They passed on excellent ideas to reach Te Anau. They confirmed the areas DOC no longer maintained and suggested a better route. I smile at the descriptions given by NOBOs eg, really long grass above the markers, track not maintained, steep climb etc. They have a lot more ahead to experience where there are no markers to follow.

About 5:30 Max and Bex arrived and stayed the night, it was great to have their company once again. We ate and chatted and planned as the usual routine before an early night.

The story is told that this hut was built for the mistress (Carey) of an early station owner. There is no history written and left in the hut but Ian, told the story well.
One room with a wash wet room attached and a shower aggedon theend
Another skink, gekos, lizard.

Day 102 Greenstone Hut to Taipo Hut, Mavora Walkway

26 Feb, 12km, 3.5 hrs

Another short day planned. An overcast morning, showers were likely but didn’t happen at all. My walk this morning was mostly in beech forest, it was muggy and warm. I was the first and only on the track and got all the spider webs in my face.

The track sidled the Passburn Valley initially on a nice soft track and then roots and rocks proved to be a challenge to walk on. Although less comfortable much more interesting. It is around here that I entered the boundary into Otago territory. Unmarked yet I left the Greenstone Valley and entered into the Pass Burn Saddle 728m.

And then the mud pools appeared. Easy to jump over or get past them yet the obstacle was there. With no recent rain they were dry but enough for me to confirm my hate for wet and muddy tracks.

Where there is mud usually ferns and moss grows. These were plentiful and covered many clearings,very pretty to walk through.

Finally out of the beech and mud the track went across open areas and past some small lakes. Mainly grass but some serious swamp land to wade through.

A large clearing appeared that marked the way to the Taipo Hut in a long terrace of tall tussock. The waratah markers were hard to find but gee it’s good to see them up ahead.

Finally the hut appeared at the end of the valley below a terrace beside the Mararoa River. A small old hut with 4 double bunks. Access to the fenced area was through an old cartwheel turntable.

I’m on my own tonight in the hut. The water tank that’s connected to the sink inside is empty. The second tank has water and a tap way up high. That saved me going across the bridge to the river. I will fill up on drinking water at the next side stream in the morning and use the stream water in my bottles tonight.

The sky became bright and sunny. The wind was cool as it whistled up the valley and became strong later in the afternoon.

A beautiful spot with mountains all around, I laid in the sun on the grass until I made an early dinner. The strong wind sent me inside late afternoon to the warm insulated hut. I read the notes for the next section and made a plan.

I was in bed early and listened to the wind. The spouting and wind together bang and clash against each other and sounded like a motor bike.

Day 101 Shuttle to Glenorchy – Greenstone Carpark, and then walk to Greenstone Hut

The start of Mavora Walkway

25 Feb, hot sunny, 11km, 3.5 hrs

The Black Sheep Backpackers in Queensrown had separate sleeping pods in the dorms. The curtain closed off the light and most sounds of the other three in there. There was also an individual light, power point and charging outlet beside the bunk. Under the bunk was room for storage.

Through the night I lost my glasses and still couldn’t find them in the morning. I found them after searching through all my gear at 6:30 under the bunk in the storage locker.

I planned to leave for the shuttle with Nick and Jinny at 9:30. I’ve now learnt how to spell Jinny’s name correctly.

I woke early not only for the glasses hunt but another girl was up to catch an early bus to Milford Sound.

Emma a staff member was really helpful with my couriers and generally all round service. She is an intern on a Batchelor of Adventure Tourism course. At 18 she was perfect for the business. Here she is.

After breakfast the 3 of us headed off to our shuttle pick up spot about 2 km away. We bought a coffee next to the muster spot. This sign was on the table. Stick, not spoons or stirrers or even plural.

The drive around Lake Whakatipu to Glenorchy was scenic.

At Glenorchy I hopped into a mini van out of the bigger bus and headed to the Greenstone Carpark.

The driver showed me the Dart River Bridge where the series The Bridge was filmed.

We finally arrived having driven through ford’s and farmers gates to the Greenstone carpark.

I started walking on my own at 1:15 and headed up a gentle climb on a well formed track before reaching a sign and bridge to cross.

The track varied and was very tame and began at the Greenstone River and went up into Slip Flat. I can understand why the suggestion of taking the Routeburn track is nicer than this but an extra day on a great walk. Next season for me as I sweep through the area again.

A bird flew by and sat on a branch, not sure if it was a stag or a heron.

This is always a good sign to see.

This bridge crossed a narrow and deep rock gorge before a climb to the hut.

Several people were at the hut but only 3 others stayed the night. This is a serviced hut and so not part of the back country pass. We had a quiet night. The other walkers were doing a circuit of the huts so not TA walkers.

Greenstone Hut

Flushing toilets at this serviced hut. And toilet paper! Having to pay $20 is controversial for TA walkers. The word was out the wardens ask for your tickets on the track. There is also no place to put your tickets in the hut.

Off to bed before dark to the sound of the many riflemen birds just outside the window. A pleasant squeeky chirp.

Day 100 Arrowtown – Queenstown via Frankton Five Mile Centre

24 Feb, hot, dry and sunny.

I left my room at 8:30 to walk the Whakatipu Track. The 70+ yo bikers were wiping the dew from their bikes and bade me farewell. They said ” fancy walking all that way with that on your back”. We exchanged a bit of banter about avoiding Queenstown and I headed off.

I had to collect my resupply box from Queenstown and so my plan was to buy a tight fitting mask and avoid crowds.

From the Holiday Park I walked a route set by Google. It took me through the back of the village down to Millbrook.

At this stage it was warm enough to shed a layer and remove gloves and swap my beany for my bucket sunhat.

The route took me through delightful retirement flash homes as well as through the golf course.

Couples were out walking the easy and well manicured tracks and many stopped to chat.

After the Millbrook village I walked the road to the Shotover bridge and shaved time off walking down and around Lake Hayes, this followed a cycle track. There were several cyclist out and about when I neared the Shotover River.

A short walk through trees brought me up and under the Highway.

As Iapproached The Five Mile Shopping centre I stopped to get supplies and had some lunch. A short time later I found Ginny and Nick eating their lunch so we stopped and did a little planning together.

They still had supplies to buy and so I left them to it and finished my shopping. The bus was 13 minutes to Queenstown and so I used my Bee card and travelled for free.

I found the Queenstown Black Sheep Backpackers and hiked up the other side of town to carry two resupply boxes back to sort and prepare to send on. I also made arrangements for the shuttle tomorrow for Ginny and Nick although I am not taking the Routeburn side trip.

Down the hill for the third time to get tape and arrange the couriers.

Ginny and Nick texted to say let’s meet and so we had a proper meal down at the pier. Not many people around and everyone wearing their masks. We had some selfie fun.

Back into the bush tomorrow starting at The Greenstone River.

Day 99 Zero day in Arrowtown

I met up with Nick + Ginny and Max + Bec for breakfast at Goldie’s in Arrowtown. There was no chef to cook so only cabinet food was available.

All 4 headed off towards Queenstown hoping to stay at a trail angels house tonight.

My plan was to chill around the Chinese Gold mining village after I had sorted out my supplies and establish a plan.

Others are side tracking and planning to walk other tracks but I’m keen to just head south and finish what I started.

So I emptied my pack of non essentials and couriered them home.

I bought lunch and wandered down to the old village to eat it.

The softest panini was delicious.

I also looked for colour and found it in these flowers in and around the village.

An old dunny

I met some bikers at the Holiday Park and we chatted for a while. Interesting travels these bikers go on trips all over the world.

Back at my bunk room I settle in for the night.

Day 98 Roses Hut to Arrowtown

22 Feb, light rain hot and sunny
23 km, this walk took all day. Other TA walkers manage to miss a hut on this track but for me I’m happy to survive without injury or stress.

Max and Bec at Rose’s Hut. We are all wearing Lone Peak trail shoes 👏
Paul, who took the pic insisted on a photo shoot including the final mountain to climb in the background. He moved us around and placed us in position so the the peak was easy to see. Right on the gable. Good on you Paul.

Let the final day of Mangatapu Track begin. Previously the track took us up to Jack’s Saddle 1275m that involved sidles and ridge walking to Highland Creek Hut that sat in a huge flat basin up in the hills giving magnificent views.

Next, we had two major climbs and descents up and around Knuckle Peak. Up a deep spur to sidle to high lookout points with amazing views before a long descent into a creek.

Immediately the next climb began at the creek to the south west side of Knuckle Peak. Only to head down the Ridgeline to the Mangatapu River and on to Rose’s Hut.

I just love the open spaces of ridge walking, especially here. Normally trees or hills block the view but to be up high in the open is amazing.

Over Rose’s Saddle.

And now today. A climb up of 470m up to the ridge 1270m. To then descend to Arrow River.

The option here was to walk with the river bed all the way to Macetown or follow a high water route sidling the river. We chose the river. I was walking behind Nick and Ginny.

Paul (NOBO) went over the river junction instructions but in my mind it just made no sense. Given all the rivers we had crossed in the South Island although confident I was unsure. But here it was, the junction. A short time earlier I saw Nick on the descent and pressed on following the track. It was so good to have track buddies to help with the decision making.

Just get in the water Sandra and follow it to Macetown.

However confident I was in river crossing this river track was not reconciling in my head. I pressed on on mid calf going with the water flow track.

Above I saw NOBO walkers on a track above and waved out. Should I be up there?

And then I heard ‘Sandra’ from behind. It was Nick! So relieved but how did that happen?

All on course and in good spirits we pressed on to wade in and out of Arrow River together.

It was all shades of green and clear water. The flow was walking speed, ankle to knee deep. The green was the colour of the rock, greenstone? I don’t know but it was beautiful.

Some of the gorges were challenging and I did have a bum dip on and off.

I enjoyed this Arrow River walk more so with company. Nick has a good eye for direction. Ginny a good eye for rock hopping. Love these two track buddies!

Finally after a couple of hours we were out of the river. Macetown was easy to miss the campsite yet we three were headed to Arrowtown tonight. We headed down an exploratory path to an old building to find Bec and Max finishing their lunch so we joined them. First break of the day! Just magnificent tramp today.

The 4WD track met with vehicles coming up as well as beautiful waterfalls. This was the river option, the other was sidling the river with good views. Big Hill Track sort of helped our decision in choosing the river

It was a long hot dry walk from here to Arrowtown over the 4WD track.

The old town of Macetown is being restored and has a good history I hope it can be rescued. At the momen tot it is still mostly derilect.

It was a long walk for me but we caught up with Bec and Max as they were eating multitudes of berries on the road side. Max kept me company until we hit a bridge, all crossed it and walked to a site. Internet access!!

I chose to walk on to the holiday park a further 3km, Nick +Ginny, Max + Bec decided to camp on the river for the night. We agreed to catch up in the morning for a coffee.

I hoofed it up to a chemist to buy a mask in old Arrowtown. Phoned the Holiday Park and they close in a few minutes. Oh gee up the hill to secure a bunk room bed another 3km.

What an amazing day! Every day is the best at the moment. For me though a rest day tomorrow. Happy As!!