And then there were mountains…

11 Feb

After many kilometers of wondering when we were finally get to the ‘good stuff,’ we have arrived!

The Richmond Range is the first mountain range we’ve encountered on the South Island. The long climbs upstream of multiple rivers were well worth the views that the ridges have to offer, even with the clouds looming low.

Like the Taurarua Range, the Richmond Range has many huts both above and below treeline. It is rare to find a hut that isn’t in a dramatic location, and Slaty Hut was no exception.

After spending the night at Slaty Hut, we woke to find the clouds trying to clear from the ridges. In every direction we looked, there were jagged peaks showing through the shelf of clouds.

It wasn’t all just easy ridge walks and goat silhouettes though. The Richmond Range had some serious elevation change, and intimidating descents.

Particularly intimidating for me was the traverse between Little Rintoul and Mt. Rintoul. Between the two peaks there was a very steep descent on scree. Standing at the top of the descent, we could only see the next two poles marking the trail. Beyond those two, you couldn’t actually see where we were headed. Despite my nerves, the descent and ascent and descent were fine.

And, when we came out of the trees below Mt. Rintoul we could look back and appreciate the peak from where we’d come.


The next day, we followed the Wairoa River upstream. We took advantage of the many waterfalls and emerald pools to cool off throughout the day.

And, that evening we spent the night at the Top Wairoa Hut with our fellow trampers, Amy and Zach. As we enjoyed the evening together, none of us had any idea of the adventure the next day would hold…


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