There are always a slew of things to be done when leaving for a week’s trip.

Emails. Planting some veggies I hadn’t got around to. Finding the pink flagging tape that I had, but in the end I couldn’t find it, and no one at Mitre 10 had ever heard of it.

“You see it everywhere!” “No, it’s not sticky.”

Bunnings provided a choice of colours, but nothing stands out in a beech forest like pink.

Petrol. Breakfast. Visiting a sick friend along the way.

It was 2 pm when I made it to the Matakitaki DOC carpark. It’s up 38 km of narrow road, the last half on gravel.

Time for lunch, so it was getting around to 3 pm when I staggered off with nearly 30 kg in my pack with my loppers, white Permolat markers, nails, small hammer, tent and sleeping mat, etc.

And at least a week’s food supply.

The weather forecast was great for the first few days, but after that, there would be some rain each day. The seventh day indicated heavy rain, so I needed to return across the Matakitaki River by then.

There is one excellent campsite at the old goldfield clearing halfway up Burn Creek, and I planned to stay there, so it would be three days in, with five hours on the first day getting to Downie Hut.

A recent visitor took nine hours to get to Burn Creek Hut from Downie. I planned two days to get up Burn Creek to allow some work on the track. Then just the one day getting out to Downie as the route may by then be more etched in my mind, and I could avoid standing around wondering where to go on the overgrown route.

It’s a plod up the Matakitaki River valley, much on an overgrown four-wheel drive track.

First, you go through the hop trellises that have been recently erected. No vines yet. These have taken over from the 1300 dairy cows that chomped on lush grass the previous time I was up there in January 2020. The cattle had supplanted the original sheep from my memories as a schoolkid.

It was after 7 pm when I hit McKellar Stream, and it seemed sensible to put my tent up on a calm and warm night. Great little campsite and no need to scurry on to the dark Downie Hut.

The creek was roaring. The birds singing.

All was right with the world.

Day 2 | Burn Creek Goldfield campsite →