Kaikoura to Boyle Village blog | January 2017

Access to Kaikoura wasn’t straightforward before Christmas. I’d planned starting my summer’s walking there back in September, but on 14 November the Kaikoura Earthquake had my initial walk for the summer, starting just before Christmas, diverted elsewhere, ie, the West Coast.

After being well rinsed and washed out I hadn’t had much time on my return to Nelson in my own bed, just the four nights. I had a small building project to fill in the day, dehydrating some more dinners, that had been a success in my earlier trip, boots to get repaired, mow the lawn, and time for some summer socialisation. It was quite a packed schedule.

But I did get a call offering a ride to Kaikoura, maybe it could have been a day or two later, but I couldn’t avoid the good fortune. Take it when I could get it, no hitching required.

There’s a good reason to head to Marlborough. The weather is generally drier. I was sure hoping it would be better than it was over on the West Coast.

And there shouldn’t be too many days clambering over mossy rocks the size of cars, buses, houses.

This is how it went . . .

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Day 1 | camping, umm, on the wrong track

About to realise I've climbed to 700 m on the wrong track. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

I made a big mistake, but no one was injured, or suffered particularly. Just climbed to 700 m on the wrong farm track.

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Day 2 | Warden Hut, road to the Clarence River

Over Blind Pass and down to the Clarence River. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

After the Kaikoura Earthquake I will be assessing each night’s hut or campsite for rockfall potential, last night’s thud made me realise the consequence of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Day 3 | Forbes/Seymour hut, Clarence River

The Clarence River is crossable, but I'm heading down to Forbes Hut for the night. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

Easier today. Cracking out the last of the four-wheel-drive track.

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Day 4 | Lake McRae Hut, near, umm, Lake McRae

Plenty of walking up cattle tracks on offer. Up to Lake McRae. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

Soon I came to major earthquake damage, deep furrows in the ground, the matagouri falling into the lake. I persisted for some reason and had about 500 m of serious bush bashing, well, if you consider the super prickly matagouri/sweet briar as “bush”.

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Day 5 | Robinson Creek campsite

Lake McRae from near the top of Robinson Pass. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

I kept thinking that if horses and cattle could crack out the 1420 m saddle, I should be okay. But those farm animals are fit, and I’m still carrying almost two weeks’ food.

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Day 6 | Molesworth Cob Cottage campsite

That's Mt Alarm, 2877 m, on left with Tapaue-o-Uenuku, 2885 m, behind from Molesworth. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

And here’s me paying $8 for the privilege of putting up my tent. If there was a hut I could stay for free.

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Day 7 | Saxton Hut, Saxton River

Saxton Saddle, or, was it Saxton Pass. There is both around. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

I’m hoping the weather might continue in this glorious summerness.

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Day 8 | Top Gordon Hut, Gordon Stream

Dropping down the Gordon River from Saxton Saddle, 1490 m. Sidling scree, and speargrass. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

Yesterday was full sun, and I acquired a narrow band of colour between the top of my gaiters and the bottom of my somewhat long shorts.

Today? Storm warning.

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Day 9 | Top Leatham Hut, Leatham River

Trundling down the Gordon River. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

Later in the day, I spread out all over the Top Leatham Hut, a couple of hunters dropped in on their way out to their four-wheel-drive and Bottom Gordon Hut, carrying plenty of chamois meat in their packs, including the sad severed head on the outside.

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Day 10 | Severn Hut, Severn River

Almost to the top of Severn Pass, 1585 m, just that scree to cross. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

I love these hills, maybe due to my Australian travels where hills are often also bereft of trees.

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Day 11 | Sedgemere Sleepout, Rainbow Rd

Leaving, umm, Severn Hut, with a 26 km day ahead. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

He became silent and surly, not at all convinced by me airing my own thoughts.

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Day 12 | Lake Guyon, Waiau River

The rain started as I reached the top of Maling Pass, down to the Waiau | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

They, and I for that matter, were stonking wet and the floor soon turned into a shallow pool.

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Day 13 | Henry River campsite, almost to the St James Walkway

The very flooded Waiau River, but it has been much higher at night. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

With that torrential rain which only stopped around 7 am it was clear that the Waiau River crossing option wasn’t a goer.

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Day 14 | Magdalen Hut, St James Walkway

The Henry River that stopped us last night. Snow!! | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

Ice on the tent. Condensation and rain had frozen. New snow on the hills.

Did I care? I had a river to wade.

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Day 15 | Home, and a dry, comfy bed

9 15 am and I'm already heading for home. After a 10 km start from Magdalen Hut. | Kaikoura to Boyle Village

Why not do a short cut directly over the Boyle River, and cut out an hour, or even more, to get to the highway asap? Indeed.