Days on Trail: 17-20 | Date of Adventure: 22 – 25 Jan 2022
Getting a hitch out of Te Anau was actually much more difficult than getting one in to town! It was a Saturday morning, so we figure people must be coming in to the tourist town for their weekend, rather than leaving it.
We finally got a ride with a lovely farmer who lived along the road, and she even drove us a few extra kilometers up the way to keep us out of the heat!
We were still faced with 21km of gravel road walking in the sun that day, so we both decided to try our luck at hitching up this road as well. We had only walked max 1km before another truck drove by, saw our thumbs outstretched, and offered us a ride!
He took us all the way to the Kiwi Burn trail junction, with our plan to stay at the Kiwi Burn hut that night. He transformed our 21km day to a 3.5km day, and we were feeling great!
We had to hike Southbound on the trail a bit to get to the hut, but when we got there we had plenty of time to enjoy the old house and play some games.
The heaviest luxury item I (Cameron) carry is a plastic Ocarina, and I was able to play it for a couple hours that night. I discovered that the fingerings are very similar to the clarinet that I played for years, so I could play some old familiar songs quite quickly.
The next day had us trace our steps northbound again back to the Kiwi Burn trail junction, through some flooded fields and fiesty forests.
North of the junction, the forest path narrowed and steepened a bit. The river we were following gradually slowed it’s flow, and suddenly we were faced with the spectacular South Mavora Lake!
The trail continued along it’s shore, as our campground for the night was nestled on the south side of North Mavora Lake.
Our campsite had incredible views of the surrounding area, but it is a popular camping ground on a summer weekend, so we shared them with dozens of campervans and trailers around us.
A thick, low fog rolled in overnight, giving the next morning a cold feel. The morning condensation on our tent wouldn’t go away on its own, so we had to roll it up wet (never fun).
On our way out of the campground, an incredibly friendly dog ran up and sat at Kadi’s feet, expecting pets. She happily obliged!
The north Mavora Lake is much longer than the South one, so we were walking along this 4wd road for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon. The cloud base slowly rose, revealing more and more of the surrounding peaks as we walked.
We decided to eat lunch in a hut we passed along the way. The clouds cleared while we were in there, so we were greeted with incredible valley views when we started again!
We came to the hut at the end of the 4wd road early in the afternoon, and had a choice to make: stay here and have an early day, or push on another 13km? We both felt fine and had been cruising so far that day, so we carried on!
As it turns out, high country brush is quite a bit harder to walk through than graded roads. Our pace had slowed, and we were getting a bit testy with each other as the day wore on.
Shadows had grown long while we made our way to the next hut, but we still made it before sundown!
The hut’s rain water collection barrel was empty, but the man already at the hut had taken the designated bucket down to the river for water.
Though I had planned to step outside and do some astrophotography that night, I got spooked whenever I woke up to try: The possums outside were walking all over the front porch, sending melodic footsteps through the hut! I decided it was fine in my sleeping bag, and went back to sleep!
The next morning we were due to transition from high plains back to lower elevation beech forests. Though we were sad that the dramatic mountain views were going to go away, the beating sun helped us welcome the shade of the trees.
A few places along the trail we walked through stands of junior beech trees, only as tall as we were. We couldn’t quite figure out why there were sudden dense sections, as there wasn’t any evidence of fire or landslides to take out the older generation.
As the trail descended into the Greenstone valley, we were excited to stay at the next hut–we had heard great things about this 24 bunk hut, one of the largest on the TA! It had new mattresses!
What we got at the hut wasn’t quite what we had hoped for, however… Find out next time, on Te Araroa: Greenstone edition!
Thanks for reading!