Clear skies overnight, and frost on the deck.

Yesterday’s snow on the slightly higher mountains to the south.

A cloudless morning, not much movement on my part.

Lake Kaniere was a mirror, 1000 m below. Hokitika sparkled in the morning light, with the Tasman Sea clearly on show.

I’d be down soon enough.

It’s times like these when I question whether I made the correct decision making a run for it yesterday when it was so bleak. It’s a great morning today. But, experience doesn’t give me confidence in that lack-of-rain state maintaining.

It was great to have the weather improved over the second part of the day yesterday. No snow, or actually drizzle after 2 pm. That was a plus.

I ate my last breakfast although I still had a few morning’s worth of coffee. It’s lucky I worked out to ration my food supply after just four days on this excursion.

Now just a trot down the hill, and a flat road walk. First down the other end of the lake, 7 or 8 km, and then up the Milltown Road at least as far.

No shock that I was tentative with my knees heading down the hill. The track starts okay, then has a very steep, rooty midsection, before flattening out for the last section.


That’s either hanging on to various bits of twiggy vegetation, or skating on my arse. I took my time, and later noted I wouldn’t be able to wear those shorts in polite company in the future.

At the road I noted it had taken three hours to drop down. I’m sure kids run down in half that time, but at least the DOC signage stated four hours up, so I didn’t feel so bad after all.

Please note, 1000 m descent is a long, long way for aging, tired limbs.

Then, just before 2 pm, it was time for some road walking. Obviously I would try hitchhiking, but there were few cars, and they were all heading the wrong direction.

The devastation of the March 2019 floods became apparent. The road used to be one of the prettiest native forest drives around. Now four or five major slips had smashed the forest. The beautiful little walk to the Florence Falls used to be a minute through the bush. Now it’s almost open, and the falls are completely visible from the bridge, where once they were hidden.

I trudge on. And on.

Walking around the lake isn’t so flat after all.

Eventually the first car going my way took pity on me in the drizzle, and carried me the 3 km down to the turnoff. Then they asked if I wanted to go up the valley. They were just out for a scenic drive, didn’t seem to mind.

Sure thing!!

I spoke of the greenstone in the Arahura Valley. It’s the main greenstone river in New Zealand.

And the bridge.

Nope, we were not going to get that far.

Instead, there was a “Road Closed” sign, and a big washout. The Arahura River had been busy in my absence and had cut about 15 m into the river flat where the road once was. The road used to be 6 m or so above the river level, but now there was a plunge down to about 1 m above the river. Two huge diggers had been recently at work to ramp down and then up, on a considerable slope.

I had a sense that my car may be trapped on the other side of the washout for weeks. It was sure steep, but maybe I could get out.

So, anyway, I plodded on up the hill to the Cowboy Paradise, back to my car. The proprietor had no guests, and had time for a chat. I just had a week on my own, other than the short chat when hitchhiking, so I said I had about an hour and a half, and then I had to give the road a shot.

An interesting guy, and I must look sympathetic. We workshopped his particular issues.

Eventually, I was on my way, having been unable to find my wallet to pay for a huge basket of hot and delicious chips. It’s cash only and I could only find my card.

And yes, the story has a happy ending.

My two-wheel-drive car successfully negotiated the obstacles, and my eventful and at times frustrating trip was over.

I had planned another few days in the hills before returning home, but my full caboodle was wet: clothes, sleeping bag, etc. And I fully exhausted my muscles. Raw patches on my feet, and body variously.

I found I could scarcely climb the stairs to my bed at my Greymouth backpackers I had stayed at two weeks before.

Maybe some serious rest was in order prior to embarking on any more Little Adventures this summer.

← Day 12 | Mount Brown Hut