Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Made It !

Tuesday, 29th January 2013  32.5 kms  6 hrs

My last TA day started with a walk along the Estuary Walkway from Invercargill, taking me away from the town and onto SH1 - the Bluff Highway.

Then it was a 20 km road walk along the busy road - many vehicles in both directions, including a lot of trucks heading to the port of Bluff.

A warm, balmy day with not much wind, which is a lot better than the pouring rain or blasting southerlies that other TA walkers have had at this point.

And so I reached the outskirts of Bluff , and left the road for the Foveaux walkway which travels around the south side of  Bluff Hill - first through grassy paddocks, then scrub, then larger bush for the last part - a superb way to end the trail, matching the start of the trail at Cape Reinga.

The path goes ever on (picture), but ... no, there is only 3 kms left.

My wonderful wife and support crew, Hazel joined me for the last km, and then there were the obligatory photos by the end of the road, and end of Te Araroa, signpost.

What an incredible journey I have had over the last 4 summers  .. and now it is all done - a great feeling of relief that my aggressive schedule for this summer actually worked - 22 days' walking from the Rangitata River to Bluff

Monday, January 28, 2013

South Coast to Invercargill

Monday, 28th January 2013  36.5 kms 9 hrs

At first along the shingly beach from Colac Bay settlement, and then once the beach finished, onto a marked track that continued to follow the coast over a few headlands and down into some lovely little bays (picture).

Eventually this track left the coast and climbed up into Mores Reserve - a pleasant remnant of coastal bush. No view from the top because of morning mist. From the other side it then goes down into Riverton.

Across the river and then out to the start of Oreti Beach, that curves around for a 17km stroll to near Invercargill. A most pleasant beach to walk on because of plenty of good firm sand, but today only minimal views of Stewart Island because of the sea mist.

Managed to cross the Waimatuku Stream 2 hours before high tide, and then continued on to the Dunns Rd exit from the beach - very evident because of the number of cars that drive from there onto the beach.

Then a road walk to cross the Stead St bridge on the Invercargill CBD edge

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Down to the South Coast

Sunday, 27th January 2013  24 kms  8.5 hrs

Travelled further down the valley from Martins Hut, and then picked up the track that runs along the side of the Round Hill water race all the way to where the Longwoods finish in the farmland near the south cost.

This was built by gold miners to bring water for the gold workings at Round Hill, and holds a steady contour line all the way -twisting and turning, exploring every gully along the way.

Super forest, but after the first km  it is a case of "Are we there yet?" ! - it just goes on and on. But what a superb piece of engineering from a bygone era.

Pleased to dump my pack in the carpark at the end, and then a short road walk down to the South Island's southern coast at Colac Bay (picture) - now only 2 days to go !

Southland turns on its best in the Longwoods

Saturday, 26th January 2013  37 kms 10 hrs 45 mins

First a day pack section through Island Bush and to the start of Merivale Rd, where I picked up my overnight pack.

Then up Merivale Rd, first through paddocks, and then continuing as a forest road for some way in the start of the Longwood Forest.

Eventually the road was replaced by a rambling bush track through some delightful bush, then soon enough started a steady climb up onto Bald Hill (805m)  A good clear view of Bluff Hill - my final TA destination in a few days' time

But for now a great spot for lunch, and then onwards, down a transmission tower road for a while, before changing again to another delightful bush track - bright colours from the sunny day, mossy covered trees and rocks, and a good variety of bush.

From time to time it returned to open tops with views all around - to Fiordland, Stewart Island, Bluff, and back from where I had come.

My last major peak for TA of Longwood Trig at 764m.

Eventually descended from the tops down to Martins Hut - a very quaint and obviously ancient hut that fortunately is still kept for all to enjoy (picture). It reminded me of a differently quaint hut that was my first TA hut - Bog Inn in the Pureora Forest.

Telford Campsite to Scotts Gap

Friday, 25th January 2013  39 kms 10 hrs

From the Telford campsite the trail travels down through Mt Linton Station, soon on a 4WD track which then becomes a good farm road.

Cows with calves wanting to travel in my direction for a bit, and then later on a mob of cattle were coming towards me on the road - time to get out of the way and let them past.

Then onwards via paddocks, stream boundaries and roads to the start of a steep climb up alongside a fenceline into the Woodlaw Forest. Great views back to where I had come from (picture).

At the top forest roads for a few kms, then a steady descent down to the road near Scotts Gap, and then a further road walk to the start of Hewitts Rd

Aparima Hut to Telford Campsite

Thursday, 24th January 2013  21 kms  10.25 hrs

Today's DOC times of 8 + 8 hours were a concern, but in the event they were just ... conservative.

But left Aparima Hut early, and after a short time navigating an open area above the river, I was then in bush following markers all the way to Lower Wairaki Hut (6 hrs) for my lunch stop.

The next track was again rough, heading up a valley, and then another steady climb  of 540m to break through the bushline onto the open tops of the southern Takitimus - great views (picture), including my first view in the distance of the southern coast.

Then a long descent down to the Telford campsite in the valley on a warm sunny afternoon.

Into the Takitimus

Wednesday, 23rd January 2013   23 kms 9.25 hrs

An hour's walk up a road, and then into the Takitimu bush at Lower Princhester Hut.

A steady climb to a saddle, then down the other side. Lost the track for a bit, but soon enough navigated back to it.

The rest of the day was an alternation of rough bush track and open boggy tussocky country.  (picture)

Eventually onto a 4WD track that led to Aparima huts - a DOC one and a deer cullers' one that anyone can use.