Greenstone-Caples Feb 2021

Day 1

Jeremy picked Simon and I up in his clown car (his description) and we drove South. The better part of the day got us to the Greenstone carpark and we headed off in the heat up the track. It was a very warm afternoon and I walked T-shirt-less to try and stay cool.

The track took us up the Caples River, which disappointingly was full of cows. We got to the hut after a few hours and met Annu on her way back from swimming. She told us the swimming hole was amaaaaazing.  We also took a dip in the cold water flowing from a deep ravine.

There were very few people in the hut, despite our predictions. We chatted to the DoC ranger a little and then started making dinner. The hut was so empty we had a whole bench to spread out onto, which of course I did. I had two huge dry bags of food as Simon and I had bought enough for every eventuality in the supermarket the day before.

Day 2

We set off the following day before the heat. The route took us up the wide valley on a well formed track.
Lunch was by the river with a pre-lunch dip in the cold refreshing water.
As we weren’t in a hurry we made multiple cups of tea.
Then it was on and up towards the McKellar Saddle. We spotted what looked like the Matterhorn from the saddle but we were pretty sure we hadn’t stumbled into Europe. There were nice views from the saddle back the way we’d come. In the other direction we could see Key Summit across the valley, which reminded me of my walk up there with Leonie in 2013.

After a break in the shade on the other side of the saddle we hobbled down to the valley floor at old-man-with-dodgy-ankle pace. We had a break near Lake McKellar then another 45 mins of walking and we were at the hut. So was everybody else. We swam in the river again and heated our packet curries for dinner. The mild almost killed Annu but to be honest it wasn’t that mild. We ate in the crowded hut and it kept filling up until it was well over capacity. There was a surprising number of internationals considering the covid situation.
We hung around for a bit outside in the evening.

Day 3

The following day we walked out to Greenstone hut. It was another hot day. The valley was quite open and there were cows making a mess of the waterways. I walked ahead arriving at the hut around 3pm. We went in search of somewhere to swim after the others arrived. A steep bank took us down to a river some way up behind the hut. The water was cold but refreshing as usual and we washed away the sweat from our skin.

It was a nice evening in the hut. We sat outside on the balcony and chatted amongst ourselves and with some of the other trampers. The hut is on the TA so there were trampers walking that too. We had another go at making chocolate moose and made a slimy chocolate dessert also. Yum and yuck.

Day 4

The final day was Monday and we walked out in much cooler overcast weather to the car. Then it was back to Queenstown for a Ferg Burger. Jeremy and Simon kept driving North to Christchurch and I went to stay with Chris and Emily in Queenstown.

D’Urville Island Bike Packing

I tagged along with Pat and Georgia and their friends on an overnight bike packing trip to D’Urville Island. It was both fun and tiring and we had great weather.

On Sunday we drove out to the Rai Valley and loaded up our bikes. We rode out towards Tennyson Inlet. The windy road took us up to the saddle in the cool morning and we dropped down to the sunny side. We then followed it around the coast to the “World’s End” before riding Archer’s Track to Elaine Bay. The trail was a nice single track with enough roots to make me get off fairly regularly. We had the occasional view out across the water into the sounds. It was blue and sunny and looking good.

From Elaine Bay we climbed back up to the road along the hills and had a fast paced ride out to French Pass. Fast paced for me at least. From there, the road changed from seal to gravel along the way and we had amazing views down to D’Urville Island and into the ocean. The gravel road was dusty and the grass golden and sun baked. It felt very much like summer – which it was. We had a quick descent down to the coast, stopping to look at the narrow strip of water between the mainland and D’Urville Island. It was boiling and churning and creating white water whirlpools due to the changing tide.

We met Dulkara and her partner Kaleb at the road end and after an ice cream to help cool us down we jumped on the cargo ferry that we had chartered and floated over to the island. The driver took us via the swirling white water on the way and we marvelled at the currents the tides can create. The water is rough and swirling for quite a distance around the narrowest section between the mainland and the island. Apparently it has claimed lives in the past. I’d like to kayak around D’Urville island but this would be something to hit squarely between tides.

We got fresh water from the tap on the wharf and then began the very hot ride up to the top of the island. It was a pretty sustained climb with patches of shade and sun. We rode along the tops dropping and climbing before taking a left and riding to the West of the island. We descended to the Moawhitu campsite in the evening. We pitched our tents in the open grassy area and headed down to the sea for a look. We had a great sweeping view out across the bay.

Dinner time back at camp and then we walked down to watch the sunset out across the bay.

We reversed the ride in the morning. It was a little cooler as we climbed back up the hill. Back down to the water and then across on the ferry. After a quick decision the plan became ride hard to try and get to the road works along the road to Okiwi Bay by the 3pm cut off. Dulkara and Kaleb bowed out. They had their car at Elaine Bay and decided they’d catch the 5pm road opening. I struggled to keep up with the train. My legs didn’t want to start again after the ferry crossing. Pat slowed the others down and I caught up. I rode hard to keep up. The others appeared to be cruising. Old age? Too much gear on a heavy bike? Unfit? All three? Who knows. It was quite fun riding fast anyway. At the Elaine Bay turnoff it turned out we’d have to ride further to get to the road works on time. The game started again and we rode tempo not knowing where the roadworks were exactly. We managed to get there with a few minutes to spare and topped up on dinosaur jubes.

We had a nice long descent into Okiwi Bay where we stopped for ice creams and pies. Then it was a short-ish climb up the road. I stuck to Martin’s wheel like glue and puffed away while he cruised. After descending we moved into roadie formation and with a good tail wind pedalled back to the car. We had a quick dip at the river in the nice refreshing water.

A good trip.

Kahurangi Point

Craig flew down on Friday and went biking for a day with Reagan. We all ended up at the flat on the hot summer evening eating pizzas that I magicked up. We packed my car and Craig and I drove to Paines Ford later in the evening and camped at Hangdog despite it being “fully full, man”.

Inge, who Ellen and I had met climbing at Cable Bay arrived punctually at 9am to find Craig and I finishing off breakfast in the carpark. We headed up to the Crag and spent the morning climbing there doing a variety of easy climbs at Track 5. I felt particularly bad at it but despite this it was good.

Ellen turned up early afternoon and we did a few more climbs before heading back to the grass beside the carpark for lunch.
We packed up and drove into the oncoming weather. It changed from sun to grey and rain and we camped North of Collingwood for the night.

The following day we drove across to the West Coast and followed the windy road to the south. The road is interesting. It runs along the side of a big inlet and then through native bush and farmland. We stopped along the way to look at the beach before arriving at the road end.

After the usual gear faff we were packed and crossed the Anatori river at the car park. We walked the short way to the coast and started down the beach.
As the tide was low we could avoid the 4wd track and walk along the beach the whole way. It was amazing. We had big cliffs to the left to begin with and boulders on the beach to navigate. A seal scared us but it turned out it was also scared and made a quick escape to the sea.
We had to walk quickly to catch the low tide at the two tidal river crossings along the way. It was sunny but with a breezy head wind and we were all bare footed.

As we reached Big River it looked like the crossing would be very easy but as we got closer we could see a deep channel. We followed the instructions we’d found and headed up river to the remains of an old tractor where we crossed easily with the water up a little above our knees.
We picked our way around the rocks on the other side and soon found a place for a quick snack. Then it was just a short walk to the hut.

The hut is unusual. It’s a DoC hut but it was the old lighthouse keepers house so it has many rooms and unique for DoC huts, it has a bath.
We were thirsty when we arrived and set up the cooker outside, settling on the benches for an afternoon of lazing. Out came the whisky after cups of tea.
We decided we should try the bath in the evening and that we would need a fire… Craig set about finding bits of drift wood and Ellen started sawing them into small pieces.

The fire heated up our bath water as we ate dinner. We took turns bathing in between drinking whisky. We lit a bonfire outside the hut as the light faded and continued to drink.
We clambered into bed around midnight after a nice evening.

The following day we went for a walk to a waterfall further south, down the coast. We went for a short cold swim in the big pool down stream. It was very refreshing. We then climbed around and the rocky coast, as the waves came surging in threatening to get us wet. The topomap said we were directly below the lighthouse so we clambered up the dubious sandstone and up a steep scrubby bank to arrive at the tall white lighthouse.

After lunch, back at the hut, we walked out again along the beach catching the high tide. This time we had the wind on our backs which made walking easier. We swam briefly in the river and then started driving back. It was already around dinner time so we stopped at the end of a side road on the hill and cooked up some food in the warm evening.