Hamner to Taramakau blog | January 2018

After 18 days walking from Blenheim to Kaikoura it was obviously time for a lengthy break.

Very much needed, considering my pack base weight in carrying my tent, sleeping mat, plenty of electronic gear, and my food supply.

Three nights in a bed would allow some recuperation for my tired body. I could wash clothes, and sort out food for the next stage of my summers expedition. Maybe just read a book, or go out for pizza.

It didn’t work out that way.

At the height of the tourist season I was dead lucky to get my two nights in a bed. That meant my day off was a rush around to get myself sorted for another two weeks on the go. I did get all my washing done fortunately.

Part of my time was spent trying to work out the route to check out some previously unexplored territory, or revisit places I’d been when working on a plant/animal survey for the New Zealand Forest Service when I just left university, or avoiding, where possible, places I’d walked too often.

The general idea was to bear west from Hanmer, and have a few side trips to various valleys. My biggest diversion on my way to the West Coast was zipping around the eastern shore of Lake Sumner via Jollie Brook.

So. After insufficient rest or connectivity with civilisation I was all too soon back out on the trails.

This is how it unfolded . . .

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Day 1 | Scotties Camp Hut

I strode up Conical Hill for the view over the Waiau Valley, explaining to bemused tourists that I couldn’t decide what to have the lunch, so I bought everything.

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Day 2 | Steyning Hut

I’ve been to a few huts in my time, I guess I must be approaching 400 if I bothered to enumerate them, but don’t usually do it as a sport, ie, just so I can say I’ve been there.

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Day 3 | Steyning Hut — Night 2

50 mm of rain fell during the day apparently while I read a book in Steyning Hut. The gals rode through.

Rain started at about 9 am, and continued all day.

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Day 4 | Magdalen Hut

A break in the rain for a while. It didn't last. The Steyning River valley.

First, I had to negotiate an electric fence. Meanwhile I found my crutch caught on the barbed wire. Ouch!! Then I was crashing through the dripping, dense shrubbery.

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Day 5 | Hope Halfway Hut

The Boyle River was looking seriously murky and dangerous. Lucky for the swingbridge.

Not sure why, but today I felt the weight of the pack on my shoulders.

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Day 6 | St Jacobs Hut

This is the Hope River crossing near Museum Hut. Everything was in waterproof bags inside my pack.

By the time I decided to cross the Hope River to look at Museum Hut, I had my Lawrence of Arabia headgear on, and my coat had been stashed in my pack.

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Day 7 | Hope Kiwi Lodge

On the way up the Hope River valley. Mostly easy walking.

What do I care about wet feet? They were pre-wetted by crossing the Hope River yesterday.

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Day 8 | Round Lake Sumner to Jollie Brook Hut

At Lake Sumner, you walk around the lake edge from Marion Bay for a while before getting into heavy-duty sidling past Evangeline Stream.

The afternoon had a long sidle above the lake with an occasional fallen tree, slip, or overgrown section to negotiate more thoughtfully.

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Day 9 | Wet feet and no track to Cold Stream Hut

At least three river crossings in this view. Plenty more, 50 maybe, when you walk the Jollie Brook loop.

That’s a huge day. Guess it’s what I’ve been training for over the summer.

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Day 10 | A long march to Hurunui Hut

Lake Taylor and there's plenty more walking for the day to get to Hurunui Hut.


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Date 11 | A surprise: to Mackenzie Hut

The track up to Mackenzie Hut is well marked but surprisingly few use it. Gorgeous as well.

By the time I reached the hot pool I was thinking it was a now or never moment for Mackenzie Hut.

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Day 12 | Hurunui No 3 Hut

The hot pools up Mackenzie Stream are just the thing for tired leg muscles.

I stripped off and sat neck deep. Bit muddy on the bottom and slightly greasy feel to the sulphurous water.

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Day 13 | Over Harper Pass to Locke Stream Hut

The 1955 Cameron Hut is now in a poor state. Needs some love and attention.

I just mooched along, happy to be on my own again. One night with others is usually sufficient to satisfy my social requirements.

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Day 14 | Just the 800 m climb to Townsend Hut

The Tatamakau River valley on a good day is just magnificent from above the tree line. Near Townsend Hut.

I’d made a pact with myself a few days ago. Either McKenzie Bivvy, or Townsend Hut. At the time I opted for Townsend, and today’s the day.

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Day 15 | Camping at a Greymouth backpackers

The last river crossing, the Otira River was probably the most difficult due to the depth and current.

These days I kinda prefer climbing than descending. My knees don’t like the twists and turns, and big drops. And man, 800 m is a long way down.