Date: 1 March 2021
Trail covered: 43.7km (kms 2705.0 to 2748.7)
Weather: on and off rain
I learned during the night that noises outside the hut are a bit scarier when you’re in a hut by yourself. I think that the noises were mostly the roof expanding and contracting but also possoms or something were walking on the roof… well at least I assume that’s what it was!
It was warm too. I wasn’t even in the sleeping bag when I first went to sleep, only in the silk liner. But I woke up at some point in the middle of night shivering and so I crawled into the sleeping bag eventually.
It’s also harder to get out of bed in the morning when you’re alone. There’s no motivation to get out of bed and every reason to stay curled up in the sleeping bag. But as what usually happens, I needed the loo so that forced me to get up.
It had been raining most of the night and it was still raining when I left. I put on my rain jacket and pack cover. I thought about waiting until the rain eased before setting out, but I didn’t… I mean I can see blue sky from the hut so surely it can’t last long.
I wasn’t sure of my destination today. There are quite a lot of huts close together and then there’s the Mavora Lakes Campsite so there are a few options.
Firstly it was over this bridge. My boots are old and have lost their grip which makes it quite challenging to get up and down these types of swingbridges.
Then I got lost straight away. The red line was clearly wrong, so I looked for the markers. I couldn’t see any so I set off on the obvious track. It soon became clear that that was wrong also as it went up the river instead of down the valley.
I found the right way eventually, thanks to some hard to find makers. It was through this spike patch. The rule of the TA is often look for the dirtiest, narrowest, muddiest, steepest or spikiest path and that one is usually it.
There was only the smallest bit of rain in the morning and then it stopped, so the rain jacket came off after 600 metres.
It was quite muddy for most of the way to Boundary Hut, but at least it was mostly flat. That meant I got a lot less sweaty than yesterday.
This fence was interesting. I had to go under it. Why no stile?
It even got a mention on Guthook.
Why do we have to walk on this hill, I wondered. Why not down there by the river. I guess it must be real muddy down there.
I saw one person after about 8km. First person I’d seen in nearly 24 hours. We only exchanged a quick hi, but I did notice he had no hiking poles.
I figured it would be rude not to stop at this seat I found, especially since the sun was now coming out.
At 11am it got flatter and easier. I guessed that the next bit might be going up those hills on the right, and I was correct, but it was a light 4WD track and so it was easy going.
Shortly after this point I could really feel the sun on the back of my legs. They haven’t seen a lot of sun, especially like they used to last year when I was walking in the sun every day.
Close to Boundary Hut I encountered my first stile since I restarted. Also a sign about how this is Maori (Ngai Tahu) land but when they were given the land from the crown, it included the condition that the public can use the marked access ways.
There’s Boundary Hut… But to get to it you have to go all the way around the river to where the bridge is.
These evil things made a return on this section!
And look how long tussock is. It was really hard to find the path in this bit. Just remembering the general direction of the bridge and hoping for the best seemed like the most appropriate tactic.
Boundary Hut looks like Taipo Hut, but older and crappier inside.
At the hut Shay went through and wrote in the hut’s “intentions book” that he crossed the river to save a few meters. He also wrote “running out of day, going to careys hut”. The book was full of toilet overflowing comments as well. I won’t be using that one today. And the mystery guy I passed earlier didn’t write in the book.
I had made good process so far and so I wondered if I could make Kiwi Burn Hut which is past the campsite, but it’s 31km from here and I’ve already done 12km. It might be possible if it is a 4WD track all the way but I don’t think it is.
However it is 4WD track straight away from leaving Boundary Hut and I knew this went for a while.
It started going uphill.
Someone in a 4WD vehicle stopped and talked to me. It was just general chat but he did say that rain is coming later in the week.
After only an hour coming down this hill I saw the North Mavora Lake and Careys hut.
I only stopped to check and write in the intentions book here. Shay and John (who I saw written in the book at Greenstone Hut) stayed here, and Nicola who was originally with John kept going.
The path now follows the lake. I know the Mavora Lakes Campground is at the end of the lake.
Can you see reflection of the mountains in the lake? The water is so clear.
The track goes in and out of forest…
And beside the lake.
Here’s the campsite. It’s a really big place but ultimately it’s just a lot of flat ground and a few toilets. It’s a beautiful spot beside the lake though.
The campsite had a QR Covid Tracer code too, but after Greenstone Hut none of the other huts did.
I had a quick snack here, and thought about whether I could make Kiwi Burn Hut. To get there at a reasonable time I’d have to do 17.5km in 5 hours, and I’m feeling very tired. But would love to stay in a hut tonight.
And it makes logistics for the upcoming sections easier – there are some big gaps between huts and accommodation soon. Based on the intentions books, I bet John will be at the hut, if I don’t see him camping somewhere.
I set off towards the hut, but after 1km I got a slight twinge in my left leg which almost made me turn back. I didn’t turn back, because it only hurt very briefly and there are apparently other camping spots on the upcoming trail where I could camp out if I had to stop walking.
It was a pretty easy trail from here, which helped with getting to Kiwi Burn Hut by dark.
This is the South Mavora Lake. Not quite as majestic as the North.
I kept looking at my watch. If I could consistently do 4km/hr I would arrive at 8pm when it would be still light. But that means the path must be consistently this good. Is that possible? Who knows!
That means a 45km day. I probably shouldn’t even be doing that kind of day for my second day. But I just can’t help myself.
The path was usually good but there were a fair few fallen trees. One in particular was really hard to find my way around, but pink ribbons tied in trees nearby showed the way.
It started raining on this bit of the trail too, but I didn’t get too wet because I was under tree cover.
This sign says there’s a big river crossing tomorrow ahead.
It says that if you think the river won’t be passable, you should cross it here by using the swingbridge. I wonder why it just isn’t “the way” – although Kiwi Burn Hut is between here and the river crossing.
So tomorrow if it turns out the river crossing is not possible, then I have to backtrack to here, which will be annoying. We will wait and see. It has been raining a bit all afternoon but not much more than a drizzle.
Finally, I feel like I’m getting somewhere – the first sign pointing to the hut!
Every 1km my GPS watch beeped and it was a great feeling. But 45km never seemed to come. I was getting very sore by now. And when making my way around this small group of fallen trees, I cut my leg on a rock and drew blood. That didn’t help my mood. God how I couldn’t wait to reach the hut.
The hut is off trail about a kilometer and a half. You go outside the trees and the grass gets long and hard to follow. And again I swear I should be able to see the hut by now, but I can’t!
Finally… There’s the hut. It was a sight for sore eyes. I know I used that saying a lot last year so I’ll try not to overuse it from now on.
Outside the hut I saw one set of poles and boots. Yep, like I figured, John must be here. Although when I got up to the door there was a girl inside. I asked if she was Nicola and she said she was. She asked if I was Matt and I said I was! She knew who I was from my blog.
She had left Greenstone Saturday morning (one day before me) and so I had the dubious honour of telling her that Auckland locked down Saturday night and her parents might not be able to come down from Auckland and meet her at Bluff, which she said they were hoping to do.
She packed the same number of days food as I did and so she has a heavy bag too. She also said she didn’t know where John had gone.
She said she spent a lot of time today sitting by the lake contemplating stuff, and she decided to take her time instead of push on any further. I was a bit jealous. I definitely got no time to do contemplating today.
It was nice to have someone to hang out with bit since I arrived so late, by the time I had dinner it was dark. But our plan is to leave together in the morning and cross the river together.
There are two bedrooms in this hut. Always nice to know that if I snore it probably won’t wake her up.
Doing a long day made me realise that Shay should be able to run 50km each day. If I can walk almost that distance then he should be able to, he’s still a teenager and he’s much more fit than I am.
Everything hurts. Literally everything. Lying down is so good. But I have to be careful, the bunks here are old rickety metal bunks and they’re so wobbly. I feel like the one I’m on is going to fall down if I move too much.
Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):