Day 151 – Pakituhi Hut to Wanaka

Date: 19 March
Trail covered: 35.3km (kms 2548.0 to 2583.3)
Weather: fine again

I had set my alarm for 6:45am so that I could get to Wanaka at a reasonable time today. At one point during the night I looked at my phone and it said 6:03am. Sweet, I thought, I’ve still got 40 minutes of sleep left. But I swear that once I rolled over the alarm went off for 6:45 instantly.


On the plus side, I was up before the sunrise. On the minus side, it was too cloudy to get much of a scene.

I tried to be as quiet as I could so that I didn’t bother the other two couples sleeping in the hut, despite the fact they kept me up so late last night. My breakfast consisted of the only food I had left in my pack – a wrap with marmite, cheese and a few chips. Now the last bit of food in my pack is a dehydrated meal I have left for “emergencies”.

Sunrise a bit later on and with the hut, as I was leaving

I left at 7:15am, and I was just able to see where I was walking without the headlamp.

Morning view of the lake
Mountains to the left

I was apprehensive about the 900m descent. I pictured it being the reverse of the climb up to Stodys Hut yesterday but it turned out to be much tamer than that.

The descent

There were like usual a ton of Wild Spaniards to avoid.

This is the biggest clump I’ve seen in one spot. You do not want to walk through these.

I saw Dave’s tent again. I guess he hadn’t made it to Hawea after all. This must have been by choice as he left the hut yesterday about 5pm and so would have had plenty of time to get to Hawea if he wanted to.

The familiar green tent from this time yesterday

The tent was on quite a slope though. It looked uncomfortable. But since I heard absolutely no noise coming from the tent I decided to keep walking without trying to see if he was awake.

I saw these sheep, really close to the fenceline. I just knew they would all run away when I went near them, and I didn’t want to bother them, but there wasn’t any other way to get down.

Sure enough they did run off when I went near them. In fact all the sheep from all over the hill all formed several lines and made their way a long way from me.

Big lines of sheep

Farm dogs must have it really easy. I just had to look at these sheep and they all made their way off into the distance.

The bottom one-third of the descent zig-zagged it’s way down the hill without any steep climbs over rocks or anything challenging.

My knees weren’t burning as much as I expected at the bottom. That was nice.


It took 1 hour and 30 minutes to get down to the road, less time than the 2-3 hours the sign yesterday estimated for the 4km journey.

I noticed on this sign that the road is called Dingle Burn Road, same as on the sign in the hut yesterday, but on all other maps it’s called Timaru Creek Road. Dingle Burn Road is a great name, it should be called that.

Just as I got to the bottom of the hill and stepped onto the road, a girl started to head up. We had a brief chat – definitely rather her than me.

There was a short walk along the road beside Lake Hawea:

And then a walk beside the “beach”:

I caught up with a guy from the UK while walking along the lakefront to Lake Hawea. Of course he wanted to talk about coronavirus. If I understood him correctly he is self-isolating by living in a tent nearby. Hmm, should I be getting too close to him? He did give me a Paleo Bar when I told him I was hungry and had run out of food, which was nice.

I took a slight detour off trail and arrived at what seemed to be the only shop in Lake Hawea. It was great to get a coffee and an omelette. I noticed there were three other hikers there. Surprise surprise the topic of conversation at their table was coronavirus, so I made no effort to talk to them.

I also got a coconut slice, a chocolate bar and a sparkling water. It was a lot of food but I didn’t mind.

While I was in the café I got in contact on the phone with an old workmate, Gareth, and he was available to have a drink later once I got to Wanaka. That was good news, but I’m going to have to buy a new pair of shorts. I can’t go into a bar and have a drink with ripped shorts with my underwear showing.

That means I have to do the 25km from Hawea to Wanaka in five hours so that I get there before the shops close – time to get a move on that means.

There were lots of kids cycling on this section

That 25km is made up of the Hawea River Track, the Clutha River Track and the riverside track around Lake Wanaka.

A nice easy trail

My 11am picture was not far down the Hawea River Track.

11am picture
The sign suggests this thing is man-made to allow surfers to practice. I wonder if that’s right? Due to time restrictions I didn’t walk down to read the sign.
No, you can’t sleep in this hut.
Hawea River swingbridge. It’s not clear if there are 10 people whether that’s okay or if the bridge will break.

People were friendly along the river trail. At first there were a lot of Mums and prams and dogs. Closer to Wanaka there were many many cyclists. It must be a popular pasttime there.

Once in Albert Town, halfway between Hawea and Wanaka, there are two campgrounds – the first one you come to is $7 and the next one is $10. They both appear to be just a big car park beside the river. I walked through both of them but there wasn’t an obvious water source, and it was a hot day. So I took a slight detour into Albert Town centre – it seemed to have exactly two shops, a Four Square supermarket and a takeaways. From the takeaways I got an ice cream and I also got a huge jug of water.

The trail from Albert Town was along the Clutha River. It was an easy walk, and I saw Dave with his brother sitting on the riverside chatting. I briefly said hi and continued on.

Clutha River trail

Once I was going around Lake Wanaka it became very windy. The trees in the area had very obvious slants to them.

Slanty tree
Slanty trees in the other direction, after going round the point

There were a lot of fancy houses along here.

This was the first view of the main part of Wanaka.

I like this sign
And this one

Lots of construction was going on along the waterfront.

Looks like this will be the finished product, not bad.
The view from these apartments

It was a lot of walking today along the various river paths, and it was quite a hot day. My back was really hurting by the end of the day, I mean my back hurts every now and again, but it was really bad today. I was very glad to finally walk into the town.

I checked into the Bella Vista Motel that I booked from the top of Breast Hill yesterday. I had a nice big room, but for now I just put my stuff down and headed back out to the Red Cross Hospice Shop. The only shorts they had were size XL or 2XL, so I headed over to the Salvation Army shop. The only shorts that fit me there were a pair of turquoise swimming togs. But the good thing is I liked the colour, they had big deep pockets and weren’t too heavy. And they were only $5. Hopefully they last until the end of the trail. Since they’re a bright colour they’ll be hard to keep clean but I don’t mind.

$5 Salvation Army shorts

While walking I noticed that Wanaka has a lot of food trucks on Brownston Street. They all look amazing, but for now the only thing I got were some little donuts to tide me over until I met Gareth for dinner and a drink. I’ll have to check one or two of them out tomorrow.

I did turn on the news to see what was going on, and while I am sick of hearing about coronavirus, the news that New Zealand is closing its borders tonight at 11:59pm to all but citizens and residents is quite amazing news. What a memorable time we’re living in right now.

Breaking news: NZ borders to close from 11:59pm to non-residents

I met up with Gareth and we talked about all sorts of things. We last worked together in the start of 2016 and he didn’t know I was walking Te Araroa so there was a lot to talk about.

Gareth and me

After dinner I went back to the motel room via a Gelato place and caught up on blog entries. It was nice to have a real bed, and I’m happy I have a rest day tomorrow. Im definitely going to get a massage tomorrow because of how much my back was hurting today, and also I need to replace my water filter bag.

Before I went to sleep I decided to do a quick plan to see if I could finish by Easter, which is the 10th of April. Mainly because my flight back to the North Island might be expensive if I finish around Easter. This is exactly what I wrote down:

20th 2583 Wanaka
21st 2613 highland creek hut
22nd 2634 macetown
23rd 2668 frankton
24th 2689 greenstone hut
25th 2711 boundary hut
26th 2742 kiwi burn hut
27th 2777 lower princhester hut
28th 2793 aparima hut
29th 2814 Telford campsite
30th 2841 birchwood station
31st 2868 Merriview Hut
1st 2897 Martins Hutish
2nd 2926 colac bay tavern
3rd ?
4th invercargill
5th finish

Im not going to force myself to stick to this schedule or anything, it’s just nice to know that with an average of about 25km per day I should be able to finish around the 5th of April. I wrote “Martins Hutish” as I won’t be staying in Martins Hut because of all the stories of rats I’ve heard!

Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):

5 thoughts on “Day 151 – Pakituhi Hut to Wanaka

  • Great signs and $5.00 well spent at the Salvation Army shop. That colour reminds me of something else recently purchased. Catching up on your last six blogs this morning has been great. Well one more to read yet. Fantastic pics as usual and very informative. Nice end to your day meeting with someone you used to work with and having a good catch up.

  • I’m afraid you’re going to hear a LOT more about COVID-19 in the days ahead, it is rapidly getting to affect every aspect of all of our lives and the situation is changing on a daily basis.

  • Matt, given that most domestic travel will die off by Easter, airfares should be fine. There should also be great motel bargains in the tourist spots. Stay away from hikers who have just arrived in NZ.

  • The man-made white-water area on the Hawea river is for white-water kayakers to practice. You might have seen the slalom course further down the river too. Kayaking is pretty big in Central Otago (as well as cycling).

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