Sometimes surprises are good. In this instance 10 hours sleep.
But waking to an absolutely clear sky was quite a shock. No frost pre-dawn due to the dampness. Just the gentle roar of the ocean some distance away.
The day’s efforts would be a smooth 15 km along the old tramway, with four viaducts to check out along the way, so I could afford an hour or two to explore the Port Craig relics.
I wandered through the abandoned bits of machinery down to the beach where there are the remnants of the almost hundred-year-old wharf, and a few rusting posts that used to support the actual timber mill. Sobering to see how much effort had been expended for such limited returns. As it turned out there was less timber in the area than was anticipated, so the company that developed the mill and associated tram line went bankrupt in about seven years. Most buildings were dismantled, and only the schoolhouse was retained because it was owned by the Education Department.
It turned out to be surprisingly easy walking. The tramway gradient meant there were few climbs, the only one of note was climbing down to the creek and back up the other side as Percy Byrne viaduct is in the process of being restored. I couldn’t just scuttle across 35 m above the stream. It sure was high.
It was strange to have five-hour walk with just 175 m climbing involved.
Once the Hump Ridge Track peeled off at the Edward Byrne viaduct the maintenance on the track dissipated. Clearly far fewer use the South Coast Track than the Hump Ridge.
The mystery of yesterday’s footprints on the beach was resolved with the appearance of two guys who had climbed up to Okaka Hut, up around 900 m, then were circling back to their car. They were more surprised to see me emerge from the bush after having attempted to take some photos of the adjacent viaduct.
The track was flattish, that meant it was soggy underfoot for a while, but the tramline gradient continued to within a kilometre of the hut.
The Wairaurahiri River drains Lake Hauroko so it shouldn’t be a surprise how big and gnarly to cross the river would be, but surprise me it did. Lucky there is a swingbridge.
And a great north facing hut. Well glazed and fairly warm.
Still no clouds about, but that can change quickly. It might turn out to be a repeat of last night, ie, eating dinner in bed, and having a long snooze.
I sure hope so.
Obviously no one else about. The last people stayed two weeks ago.