Day 121. Queenstown – Taipo Hut. 24km. Total 2700km.
Party Queenstown kept me awake during the night with a lot of music and party going on just in front of the YHA, not easy to sleep if you are used to quiet huts in the wilderness!
Today we have a shuttle picking us up at 8am to take us around the last “hazard zone”, Lake Wakatipu. Water taxi was far too expensive, the 55$ each for the shuttle (Buckleys transfers) was worth it as it’s a 90 minutes drive and some off-road gravel section. The carpark is full but both the Greenstone and the Caples tracks start here as well.
We start off on the Greenstone track for the first 12km to the Greenstone hut. We quickly pass a guided group on a day hike and a few others coming the opposite direction. The trail is easy and mainly in the forest along the beautiful green Greenstone river (all things Greenstone!). Suddenly someone is calling my name, it’s Jake and Kaitlin who I last saw on the Queen Charlotte Track. So nice to meet them again!
We pass by a few waterfalls and after 3h cross a beautiful gorge on a bridge before arriving at Greenstone hut.
We have lunch inside. I eat a lot, my backpack is far too heavy for just 4 days of food. It means I can eat more (and good things like tomatoes) but my shoulders don’t like it. I also feel very tired today, not having gotten enough sleep for a while. I just want to arrive at the next hut and go sleeping. But we have 12 more kilometers to do. I get a big smile though when discovering that my Canadians left me a note in the hut book, saying they miss me.
We leave the Greenstone trail now for the Mavora Walkway. The trail is still easy but now uphill to a saddle – nothing compared to our last section though, we are not getting above the 700m. The forest section is alright but lacks highlights. Must be that I am too tired. When we get out of the forest and have views, the sky is covered in clouds, feels like bad weather is coming. We already had to walk through quite a lot of mud today but now we are moving into swamp area. Real wet and muddy feet. I wasn’t missing it.
I am not in a good mood, feeling tired and worried and sad but cannot really say why. I hope I just need some sleep and I’ll be alright again. We reach the Taipo Hut already after 3h instead of the 4-5h indicated. It’s for the first time big mattresses for 2 people so that 8 fit on 4 mattresses. Not a lot of space, just when I wanted some quiet place and my own space for a rest. I consider camping outside but the wind is blowing heavily and it might be raining tonight. Not good for sleeping in a tent. So I just eat and rest and hope I will feel better soon.
Day 122. Taipo Hut – Mavora Lake Camping area. 28km. Total 2728km.
There are rats in Taipo Hut and although we hang up our food or had it close to us, I just couldn’t sleep. Sitting up, I could see the rats running around, in and out of our packs. The hut is very small and there wasn’t much space to put our gear. It’s so hard to sleep when you are lying on your mattress and hear the rats running all around you, wondering when they might walk over your face 😦 As it’s raining and very windy I still prefer being sheltered in the hut and don’t move into my tent. I must have slept at one point as I wake up in the morning with a bad headache and more bad mood. We now often sleep till 6.45am as we don’t do big hiking days. The real mountains are kind of behind us and today should be pretty easy. I guess all other hikers like us much better now as we don’t wake them up too early 😉
Leaving the hut over the swingbridge we walk easily in a flat valley. The mountains are covered in clouds and I can see it raining with a beautiful rainbow, luckily we just get some raindrops. The valley is nice and I wish I could just enjoy the hike but with the headache I also can’t shake off my bad mood. As the others take over I can’t stop thinking why is everyone faster and running ahead easily? No matter how often I repeat to myself how much I have achieved, today I am not happy with myself, walking too slow, eating too much…. Can I just be hiding somewhere today please? Laying in a bed all to myself and hide from the world?
Of course I can’t, as always the last 4 months the only option is to hike. So I continue setting one foot in front of the other, one wet foot in front of the other as we walk through swamps (again).
After 3h we get over the next swingbridge but don’t walk back the few hundred metres to the hut, continuing rather for 90minutes to the next one for lunch. Walking is even easier now on a 4WD track. At noon we arrive at Carey hut where we have lunch with Jake, Kaitlin and Nigel.
Thanks to painkillers my headache is almost gone and my mood improved as well. I also realise that in the 4 months of hiking, this might have been the first time I had a headache – or did I forget any? In any case, it’s so much better than when I was working and staring at my screen every day, having headaches a few times every month.
I cook myself lunch as I want to benefit from being in a hut with a nice table, tonight we will be camping and I can then eat my bread and tomatoes. We also have just about 2 more hours of hiking ahead of us today to the camping area, so there’s plenty of time, even for coffee.
After the lunch break we hike another 10km on the 4WD track along Mavora Lake until we reach the camping area. We think about continueing but we are unsure to find a good spot some 5-10km further. It’s also just 31km tomorrow to get to the road, and we want to camp just before so we can hike the remaining 11km on the road the day after until reaching the highway and hitchhiking into Te Anau. So we decide to stay here. While setting up the tents we are attacked by sandflies so I end up just throwing everything and myself in the tent and shutting the flysheet, killing the sandflies inside and then changing myself in the tent, and organising my gear inside. I now can’t get out again, the flysheet is full of sandflies!!! At least I now can have a good rest and some privacy.
Day 123. Mavora Lake Camping area – Te Anau. 44km (about 20km hitchhiked). Total 2772km.
I had a big rest yesterday, with the sandflies keeping me confined to my tent I slept and rested a lot. The night was very rainy though and in the morning the mountains around us are snow covered! I read later that the snow level is now down to 1000m – in summer!
The weather looks pretty promising though when we start hiking at 7.20am. We walk over a swingbridge towards the Southern Mavora Lake. The grass is high and 20 minutes in, I am already wet all over!
It’s pretty cold so I am happy that we get blue sky for some nice pics at Southern Mavora Lake – before the clouds take over again. Then more forest along the Maraora river. After 12km we reach the swingbridge, it’s advised to cross here if the river is high. After all the rain last night we prefer the bridge and walk over the impressive little gorge towards the road.
Then it’s gravel road. There aren’t many cars and walking is easy. We had planned to camp somewhere on farmland later and head into Te Anau tomorrow morning but with our wet tents we consider walking all the way to the highway today and hitchhike already today into town.
We walk more than 2hours on the road while the weather is getting worse and worse. It starts raining, then hailing and with the wind it’s really cold. After an hour in these conditions a car passes by and we decide to try for a hitch to get us out of this horrible weather. It’s a local farmer who takes us a few kilometers to his office. We then do a few more kilometers before another car picks us up. A very kind Kiwi who just dropped off a friend for fishing. Although he lives just off the highway a few kilometers further he says that he cannot leave us in this rain and will take us to Te Anau. But first he drives us around on the scenic road to Lake Manapouri and Pearl Harbour (yes, that is indeed the name) then to the YHA. It’s pouring and we cannot see much but we take his word for granted that it’s beautiful here. The YHA and all other hostels are full but we get the last two single rooms for 45$ each at the Holiday Park. We buy some food and walk back to the holiday Park, luckily it stopped raining (for about half an hour). We take a hot shower and my room looks like a bomb has exploded as I spread out all my stuff to dry. For once I have my own room so I use it well 😉
We then start some serious relaxation with coffee and biscuits. Tomorrow we already have the room booked at the YHA anyway and in two days the Milford Sound tour, so we will have a real day off tomorrow!