Posted by: Talie Morrison | January 22, 2014

“What happened to our summer?”

JANUARY:   “What happened to our summer?”

The front page of today's newspaper!

The front page of today’s newspaper!

New Years Eve with Jennifer and Jo

New Years Eve with Jennifer and Jo

They have matching gloves and hats, and I have matching gaiters and rain jacket!

They have matching gloves and hats, and I have matching gaiters and rain jacket!

With Jennifer and Jo and Des at Lake Alta

With Jennifer and Jo and Des at Lake Alta

Lots of rain means lots of waterfalls!

Lots of rain means lots of waterfalls!

Above Queenstown

Above Queenstown

Skippers Canyon

Skippers Canyon

Skippers Canyon (That's the  Shotover River)

Skippers Canyon (That’s the Shotover River)

Me and Abe!

Me and Abe!

Abe is in with the "big boys"   in TeAnau

Abe is in with the “big boys” in TeAnau

Tengu and me at the Mt. Luxmore Hut

Tengu and me at the Mt. Luxmore Hut

Lake Hauroko

Lake Hauroko

Wairaurahiri Jets - they are the BEST!

Wairaurahiri Jets – they are the BEST!

That's what the track looks like!   See the orange triangle?

That’s what the track looks like! See the orange triangle?

View from the tops, looking back at Hauroko.

View from the tops, looking back at Hauroko.

Coastal View from the tops.

Coastal View from the tops.

Lake Poteriteri ... next year?

Lake Poteriteri … next year?

Kea who entertained me during dinner.

Kea who entertained me during dinner.

Beach along the way to Pt. Craig

Beach along the way to Pt. Craig

Walk Wire!

Walk Wire!

Muddy track!

Muddy track!

Caplins Waterfall

Caplins Waterfall

Another Caplins Waterfall

Another Caplins Waterfall

New Zealand Fur Seals on the Catlins Coast

New Zealand Fur Seals on the Catlins Coast

It has been a “relatively cold and wet” month down here.   At least where I have been!   The low pressures are just stacked up waiting to come over the lower South Island (seems like there are only a couple of hours sometimes between low systems.).   Thus I haven’t done as much tramping (backpacking) as I would have liked – but I am hoping the weather will settle down in a couple of weeks.   So it is a good time to visit and hang out with some of my friends down here!

I spent New Year’s in Queenstown with Joanne and Des.   It was fun going to a New Year’s Eve party complete with fireworks and “midnight countdown” Kiwi Style.   We did a couple of day hikes around the Queenstown area (Tobins Track, Saw Pit Gully, Lake Alta, and Skippers Canyon) and since I haven’t done much around Queenstown, it was a fun to see it from a local’s perspective.

From there I headed over to Mossburn and saw Mike.   He and I may not be married anymore, but we both sure do love New Zealand still.  And from Mossburn, I went over to TeAnau (still my favorite New Zealand town!).   I did a couple of day hikes again (between the low pressure storms) including hiking up to the Mt. Luxmore hut and back down in one day (that’s a 16 mile/23k hike!).   But that is one of my favorite places down here, so it was well worth the effort!

Then I headed down to Tuatapere – another favorite place.   I was working on putting together a trip to hike from Lake Hauroko to the South Coast Trail.   With a little bit of research, I found out that I could go up on “The Hump” from Teal Bay over the tops and down to Port Craig.   I picked up a brochure for the Wairaurahiri Jet Boats and discovered that they do a jet boat trip from the mouth of the Wairaurahiri River all the way up to the car park on Lake Hauroko.   This could add a fun element to my trip and I called and checked to see if I could book a pickup.   Joanne and Johan, the owners, are lovely people and Joanne suggested that they could also give me a ride to the Teal Bay hut, which could save me a 12+ day of hiking.   So we put together our schedules, and I joined up with a regular booked trip on Saturday to get to Teal Bay, and then I booked to join up with another one of their trips at the mouth of the river the following Thursday.

There was a small window of good weather on Saturday, which I hoped would get me over “The Hump”.  So I took off on a beautiful day from Teal Bay and headed to the tops.   As usual it took me a lot longer getting to the tops than the sign said – especially since it was my 1st day of a 6-day trip and I had my heaviest pack.  But I got up on top in time to fix some dinner and still get a couple of more hours of hiking under my belt. A Kea (NZ high altitude parrot) joined me for dinner and entertained me while I ate.  The winds were picking up and I could see the clouds building – hum….   The last weather report I had seen had predicted the next low to come in on Sunday afternoon (I was hoping that would hold!)  But with the winds, I needed to drop down from the tops to camp. I found some scrubby trees and an almost level spot a bit smaller than my tent but I thought it would be “doable”.   I did get the tent tied down and secured, but the clump of grass that was in the middle of the tent made lying flat a challenge!   The next low pressure didn’t wait till Sunday afternoon – it came in at 1 am!   So I was not getting a lot of sleep between the grass clump, the wind and now the rain!   By the time I got up the next morning – it was full on storm again.   I hiked back up and was hoping to follow my GPS to the Okaka Hut.   It was only 3.5 miles away, but when you are walking “blinded” by the wind and rain and cloud, that is a LONG way!  My route across the tops did not have a trail or track or any markers, so I was hoping to follow the GPS.   But once again, I chickened out because of the lack of visibility!   That meant that I retreated till I found the marked route down the other side.   It was the “long way around” but at least I felt a bit safer and could see where I was supposed to go.   The track was really muddy and slippery with all the rain!   About half way down, I stopped for a cup of tea and got water out of the puddles on the track!

When I got to the bottom, I had the choice of pitching my tent (it was about 5 pm) or pushing through for another 4 hours to get to the Pt. Craig Hut.   I decided to push through – and got there, slightly delirious, at 10 pm!   I was a tired puppy – it totaled about 16.5 miles (23 ks) – this time with a full pack on!   But 15 minutes after I got into the hut (once again I was all alone), the skies opened up and it poured for the rest of the night and the next day!   I was sure glad I had pushed on to get to the hut!  I took the next day off and relaxed in the hut – that evening I was joined by a couple of guys (Invercargill and Germany) and a lovely couple who live in Auckland but were born in Russia.

After a day of being inside, I was ready to take on the next 5-hour hike to the Wairaurahiri Hut.   The first 3 hours was lovely and flat since it is part of the old viaduct system and part of the Hump Ridge Track.   But after that it was a bit rougher and a lot muddier.   Anna and Nick (my new Auckland friends) got there a bit after I did along with another Kiwi who lives and works in Denmark.   I love the international flavor of these backcountry huts.   The next day, I hiked down the track to the next walk wire – Anna had never done a walk wire and water to see what it was like!   She did beautifully – and finally I had someone to take photos of me on a walk wire!  (Here’s a You Tube – hopefully it will upload for you!)

 http://youtu.be/p9OzHgHdydo

Thursday morning I hiked down to the mouth of the Wairaurahiri River where there was a private hut (owned by the Maoris).   Johan brought the jet boat down and cooked a lovely barbeque for his clients (and he invited me also).   Delicious after 5 days of “trail food”!

The jet boat ride up the river (about 35 ks) and then across the lake was very fun!   It was a bit cold and rainy, but we were all bundled up.   And it is such a pristine part of New Zealand that it was lovely to see so much of it along the river.   And, of course, now I want to do another tramp in that area (again one without a track) that goes over to Lake Poteriteri!  Next year……  🙂

So I am in a “holding pattern” again, waiting for good weather.   There are a couple of backcountry trips I really want to do, but I will just have to see if the weather pattern improves.   The weather people say it will, but of course they are going to say that….. 🙂

I have wandered through Invercargill and along the Catlins.   Stopped in Dunedin to see my friend, Muppet (from “the Ice”) and now am back in Christchurch.   I’ll head up to Blenheim to see friends there, and then over to the Kaharungis to see if it is just a little bit warmer or dryer up there…   I certainly don’t mind a day or so of rain but in moderation please!   🙂

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Responses

  1. Good job on the walk wire–didn’t look scary at all when you did it. Sorry to hear about all the rain, though.

  2. All this rainy weather is just coming at once so that you have a long stretch of sunny weather! I love to hike with you rain or shine 🙂 youtube video is awesome!


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