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.