Really? The track goes there?

8 Mar

After our adventures on the Red Hills Range, we were ready for whatever the trail was going to throw at us next. We spent one night in St. Arnaud, ate a good meal, picked up our resupply box and were on our way again.


The trail follows along Lake Roiti and then up an ever narrowing river valley towards Travers Pass. This section of trail happens to coincide with the Travers-Sabine Circuit, a very popular loop hike in the Nelson Lakes National Park.

Due to the popularity of the circuit, the huts usually hold 20-25 people. It’s easy to understand why people do the hike when you find yourself in a setting like this.


 Although, it might make it slightly less enchanting to know that several of the huts on the trek are in an avalanche path. In fact, there were at least three 500 meter sections of trail with these signs.

Many of the tracks in New Zealand have their challenges. Hell, if the track weren’t precarious, I don’t think Kiwis would hike it! So, we were surprised to see this sign asking if we were prepared. In fact, we laughed about it. Then, we read about two people who have disappeared from the saddle without a trace.

Travers Saddle offered both a steep up and steep down, but paled in comparison to Waiau Pass. People had been telling us about Waiau Pass and its challenges since the middle of the north island. And, it certainly had its challenges.

After skirting Lake Constance (in the background) on steep and slippery tussock covered hillsides, we had to climb straight up the scree field you see here. This photo does not accurately capture just how steep this climb actually way. There were many places  in this climb where I could reach straight out and touch the rock without really having to lean forward. Fortunately, the climb down from the pass was much easier, though still long and steep.

Did I mention that the night before we completed this pass we read an article in Wilderness magazine about all the hikers that have disappeared without a trace since 1975? Yep. There are about 80 people who have never been found, including the aforementioned hikers and another that went missing in Waiau Pass. Comforting stuff.

After the long climb and descent, we found ourselves in a long river valley. (Some of those 80 people disappeared in rivers, too.) Though the initial walk in the river was very rocky, the valley soon opened up beautifully.

It was a perfect place to enjoy a trail milestone. Zach, Amy, David and I made this 2000km mark to celebrate the 2000km accomplishment.

Our celebration was sadly cut short by SANDFLIES! These evil biting creatures are a lot like the black flies you find up north. They swarm persistently and love to chew you until you bleed. And, they are very good at getting in the tent with you. We spent at least 20 minutes that night trying to kill all the little devils. Sometimes 100% Deet isn’t enough to keep them at bay.

The next couple of days were more walking of the river valley. The weather was perfect and the walking was relatively easy. We were grateful since both of us were beginning to feel pretty worn down after two weeks without a zero day.

In fact, we were really worn down. Even though we had carried more days of food through the section than we thought we needed, we had eaten almost all of the food. By the afternoon of our last day in the section, we had only tuna and spaghetti sauce left. And, that’s what we sat down and ate to make the final push to the road.

We had sent ourselves a resupply box to an outdoor center at the road, because the hitch to the nearest town was about 70kms. We collected our box, and ended up making the hitch anyway. We wanted real food, a real bed and a day off. Plus, the next day was David’s birthday.

It remarkably only took us two rides to get to Hanmer Springs. One car took us about 60km to the turn off for the village. The next car took us into the village.

As we got out of the second car, the woman wished us luck finding accommodation for the night. It was the weekend of a national holiday, and we were in a tourist town. Luck happened to be with us. After trying with no success at a couple of places, we found a room in a holiday park. It was the only thing left and only open because some one had just cancelled. It was meant to be.

After a soak in the hot pools in town, lots of good food, an earthquake and two days of rest, we were ready to get back at it.

One Response to “Really? The track goes there?”

  1. 1966bucs March 9, 2016 at 10:49 am #

    The last pic was the best…. keep on living the dream.

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