Te Araroa: Greenstone

Days on Trail: 20-21 | Date of Adventure: 25 – 26 Jan 2022

After the trek through the Mavora Walkway, Te Araroa heads down into the Greenstone River valley to join up with the Greenstone track.

The Greenstone track is a very popular and relatively easy tramp near Queenstown, meaning the huts are much larger and fancier than our general fare. It also means the path itself is wider and much better maintained, a welcome treat for our feet!

We had heard about the nice new mattresses and the spacious triple-room luxury of the Greenstone hut for about a week, so we were eager to relax in style!

The large Greenstone hut!

When we got to the hut there were only a few people around. We put our hut jandals on and headed in to stake out our bunks for the night. As we entered the first (of two) bunkrooms, a teenage girl sitting on one of the beds said: “Oh, you should probably sleep in the other room…there are 11 more of us coming.”

Welp, I guess we won’t be having a quiet night!

In the end, we shared the hut with two other TA walkers (SOBO) and three families, each with a set of parents and 2-3 raccuous kids, ranging from 9-20 or so.

It had been a relatively dusty and hot section through Mavora, so Kadi and I were hoping to get in to the river when we got to the hut. We had heard there was a wonderful swimming hole!

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate with us when we arrived at the hut. The sun had been covered by clouds, brought in by a cold wind. Although the conditions weren’t perfect we decided to go bathe anyway! We both found that we have a fear of being too cold, which has often prevented us from getting into other great swimming holes. Time to get over that!

We found a great, slow-moving spot by following a thin winding forest path. The Greenstone river was indeed frigid, so we took brief, invigorating baths and got out feeling cold, a bit cleaner and very refreshed! We even warmed up on the walk back to the hut, proving that our fear is unfounded.

After dinner, the kids played tag outside as the sun set in a spectacular fashion! The parents watched from inside, cleaning up and visiting amongst themselves. It was a wonderful way to see that outdoor adventures can absolutely continue after kids!

In the morning, the family crew stirred to life pretty early, bringing the rest of us with them. After a quick breakfast, they headed out. We took a few minutes to enjoy the hut in solitude before we blazed on, hot on their heels!

Great big tree
Green blue water of the Greenstone river

Before long, we saw the large group lumbering ahead across the valley. I was able to snap a few pictures of them, and we exchanged email addresses as we passed them so I could send the pictures to them.

Rarely spotted in front of the camera
Tree tunnel!

As I would stop to snap photos, the family group leapfrogged us a few times. At some point Kadi made it her goal to not let them pass us again, and that pushed us to our fastest speed on trail yet!

We quickly arrived at the junction where the Caples river flows into the Greenstone from an adjacent valley. The Greenstone-Caples route is often combined, creating a wonderful intermediate 3-4 day trip!

The easy, wide path was a welcome relief after the tussock bashing of the high plains, so we cruised through the final kilometers before arriving at the car park.

Lake Wakatipu, a large lake that Queenstown is built on, is described as a ‘hazard zone’ in the notes, and you’re expected to figure out a way around it, since there are no easy trails. We knew that a shuttle should arrive sometime after noon each day, so we thought maybe we could talk our way onto that.

There was another option, however: As we heard the large family group exclaim in joy when they saw the carpark, we decided to try our luck and ask them if they’d be able to give us a ride!

LotR filming location

They were happy to situate us into one of their 3 cars, and we had a great chat with the two teachers we shared the ride with! They told us how they’d met the other couples, their various adventures across the globe, and we shared highlights of our time in NZ.

They had plans to go to a famous local burger joint afterwards, so we agreed to just get out wherever they parked–they were doing us a huge favor, after all!

After a few minutes of contemplating, we decided we also wanted to try Fergberger. The kids had been talking about it all day, after all!

Kadi got a blue cod burger–so yum!

They were some amazing burgers after many long days of hiking! We also got some gelato afterwards for a perfect end to the section!

We were back in Queenstown after 3 weeks on trail! Cämpi was happily waiting for us to take a break in, and we had lots of logistics to catch up on before we started again (US->NZ taxes, yuck). Our next post will be about our break in Qtown, which ended up being much longer than expected!

Thanks for reading!

–Cameron

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