Rivers, Rivers and More Rivers

28 Mar

As we have probably alluded to numerous times, there are many moments when we are baffled by where the track goes or what constitutes the track or why the the trail makers would choose a section of track.

I think we’ve finally become a bit more zen about these bits of track. I find myself laughing when we come across sections like the one pictured above. The trail literally followed this beehive lined fence for at least 500 meters. And, as if the bees  weren’t enough, prickly gorst bushes bounded the other side of the trail further along.

This also happens to be what our notes call a ‘TA specific link.’ We’ve learned that what that phrase really means is “the track is going to be shit here, so take the road.”

Much of the trail in the central part of the South Island followed river valleys and river beds. There were times when the walking was tedious with rocks ranging in size from oranges to basketballs shifting under foot. Then, there were times when we found ourselves climbing up through waterfall after stunning waterfall and swimming hole after gorgeous swimming hole.

On one of the rivers, we got to witness part of  the Coast to Coast Race. These athletes go from one side of the island to the other in less than 10 hours!

They ride to the Deception River and then run up the Deception River Valley and then down the Minga River Valley. From there, they bike, kayak and run to the other side of the island. For a bit of context, the winner of the race completed the whole course in the time it took us just to go up and down the river valleys.

Fortunately, in all the hundreds of kilometers we put in on river valleys and stream beds, we only really faced challenging crossings once.

After several days of heavy rains, we found ourselves facing a river walk with a definitely swollen river. In fact, it was so swollen that we waited overnight and more before we felt like it was safe to attempt. And even with the waters calming, we felt there was safety numbers so together with Zach, Amy, Mary Kate and James we headed up river. The six of us worked together to scout the safest places to cross and to actually support one another as we crossed. We must have crossed the river 50 times in about 5 kilometers. All that teamwork paid off. All of us made it without a single fall.

There were two rivers that crossed the track but are not considered part of the trail – the Raikaia River and the Rangitata River. They are wide and braided rivers and can be quite difficult to safely cross. Although some people do cross them on foot, we chose not to because of the recent rains.  So, that meant we had to find another way around. Both times, this meant a 100 kilometers or more of multiple roads – some of them dead end gravel roads.

We made a hard hitch off one of those dead end roads. After waiting about two hours, an older couple with another hiker already in their car stopped and picked us up. Lucky for us, they were headed to the town we wanted to go to as well.

Coming out of town we got to ride on a local school bus. The bus picks up kids at the end of a long long long road to nowhere, which also happens to be where the trail picks up again. The bus driver also delivers the paper to several folks that live on the road, and they tote  hikers along for a pretty nominal fee. The morning we rode the bus, it was full with 13 people headed to the trail.

The next river was a bit more complicated to get around. We had to go quite always south to get to a bridge. Then, we had to go quite aways north back to the trailhead at the end of a dead end road. It took us 6 rides to get from one trailhead to the next, but we did it! We were picked up by two ATVers, some seasonal sheep station workers, a primary school secretary, a whitewater river guide, a farmer and a hunter.

All that hitching was worth it…here are a few glimpses of what we got to hike.



More to come soon… We love you. Be well. Enjoy the view!

2 Responses to “Rivers, Rivers and More Rivers”

  1. a4given1 March 29, 2016 at 12:23 am #

    How much longer do you have?  We ordered a tent (3 man this time instead of 2 ha), sleeping bags and backpacks so we aren’t borrowing from friends anymore! Can’t wait to see yall!

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

    • Rachel March 29, 2016 at 12:30 am #

      Spoiler Alert: We finished walking two days ago. Should be flying into Midland on the 6th. We are definitely looking forward to spending a lot of quality time with y’all!!!

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