Pelorus River Track
After our not quite pleasant experiences with roadwalking from Anakiwa to Havelock, we really wanted to skip the 20km roadwalk from Havelock to the Pelorus Bridge Campground. The pouring rain in the morning was just one more reason to give hitching another try. It took us about half an hour and quite a few cars until Renée, a nice Kiwi Lady decided to stop for us and our backpacks. She gave us a ride to the campground, from where we would have another 14km roadwalk to the start of the Pelorus River Track.
We stopped for a coffee at the Campground Café before setting out again. Luckily by then the rain had mostly stopped, so we were highly motivated to get back on the trail.
With very little traffic on the Maungatapu Road we did have to walk the full 14km to the road end. It seemed to stretch forever, but at least the road turned from a sealed asphalt road to a gravel road after the first few kilometers. Also we did enjoy the landscape with the farms we walked by and the forests we walked through.
Finally arriving at the road end, we started into the next section of our great walk.
Our first stretch led along a small footpath through almost jungle like vegetation. Gone the feeling of the hiking autobahn of the Queen Charlotte Track. There the trail had been nicely kept, mostly pretty wide and no obstructions. Here we had to climb across tree roots, watch out due to sliding mud under our feet while walking a few meters up the hill from the rivers. Several swing bridges led across streams. We had our fun with this - in Germany swingbridges are very uncommon, but here we saw so many.
The track and its surroundings are just beautiful.
We had to keep thinking of Jurassic Park, the way the forest around us looked so much like it was straight from the times of Dinosaurs.
We had a quick lunch at a place called "Emerald Pools", about half ways to the first hut, just by the river. Unfortunately we were almost eaten alive by sandflies, so we got back on our way as soon as we had stuffed some peanut butter and nutella sandwiches into our mouths.
On our way to the hut we saw some wild goats, and then finally a sign telling us that the hut was just a few meters away.
Captain's Creek Hut was our very first hut on our walk. According of the Huts Visitors Book, we were the first ones there, besides the German guy we had met a few days before who had been through during that day but had continued on to the next hut.
We spent some time looking at everything in the hut and exploring the surroundings. There was no water tank but the Pelorus was just a few meters walk away. I used the chance to wash some dirt off my legs, then we prepared for dinner. Even then, nobody else showed up and we ended up having the hut all to ourselves.
In the evening it started raining hard and we were so glad to have the hut instead of having to sleep in our tent. Thanks, DOC! We are already in love with the Backcountry Hut system in New Zealand.
The next day started off with rain. While it was raining only on and off, it still didn't help our motivation.
The trail led uphill, first to Middy Hut, then on to Rocks Hut. We weren't sure how far we would walk that day in the morning, but by the time we made it to Rocks Hut, we decided to stay there, even though it was only 1pm. I was cold and wet by that time and motivated had dropped to almost zero, even though we had progressed pretty fast and didn't find the trek to hard today. But we liked Rocks Hut. It is a pretty big Hut with 16 bunks. It also has a big veranda that has a nice view of the surrounding mountains. And it even has flush toilets instead of the long drops available at other huts.
We stayed alone there for most of the day and used our time to explored the lookout on a nearby hill, and we'd absolutely recommend that for anyone staying at Rocks Hut. Just don't get lost as it is a bit hard to see the path back down once you get to the top - there's only rocks and low scrubs up there and everything kind of looks the same.
Afterwards we collected some firewood as there was only very little at the Hut and we had nothing else to do. Then suddenly another guy showed up - Josh, a Kiwi, who had walked up the way from Nelson and was going to hike through the Richmond Ranges. We really enjoyed his company as he was really funny and had interesting views and insights on hiking/tramping in New Zealand and the Te Araroa.
Since we didn't feel up to carrying ten days of food for Pelorus and the Richmond Ranges, our resupply strategy was to walk out to the Aniseed Valley to resupply in Richmond for the Richmond Ranges Section.
That meant we had to walk to the Hacket Carpark after completing the Pelorus River Track.
Our last day on that track wasn't too great. While we waited up in the morning until it at least stopped pouring, it still was raining most of the day. That made all the tree roots and rocks on the trail slippery and we didn't progress as fast as we wanted. In many parts the trail was more like a small riverbed and we ended up slipping and sliding around a lot, and got very wet feet.
Shortly after Browning Hut we had to cross a river two times. Those were our first unbridged river crossings, but easy even though it had been raining. While putting on his shoes again (we use our Vivobarefoot Ultras for River Crossing) , Tim somehow ended up getting stung by a wasp. So all in all we were pretty glad when we were finally on our way to the Hacket Carpark. Those six kilometers drew on for quite some time though. From the Carpark we continued on into the Valley to where our hosts lived.
We had found Pete and Sue through the TA Trail Angel Forum. They welcomed uns with open arms and were just super sweet. Even though it had stopped raining by then, they let us sleep in their cute old caravan, so we didn't have to put up the tent when it might rain in the night.
Their home is like a perfect little slice of paradise, a nice house with with a beautiful garden, and of course the amazing landscape all around. The two of them have traveled far, so we enjoyed sharing stories about that - we really enjoyed our time there. A perfect place for a rest day before heading into the ranges.
They agreed beforehand to drive us into town for a fee, so we could resupply and have a day off to prepare for the ranges. They would also have accepted a food drop parcel if we had chosen to resupply that way. That makes the stretch Pelorus - Richmond Ranges so much easier!