Harper Pass

Hanmar Springs to Hope-Kiwi Lodge:

Hitching is easy in NZ. I did have to wait almost 45 minutes in Hanmar Springs before I got a lift out to the main highway, but a truck driver eventually picked me up. I was a bit surprised that a truck would pick me up, but the driver had just been to physio across the road from where I was standing and was already stopped. He did have to make a pick-up on the way, a tractor on a trailer being returned for trade in, but that only took a few minutes and I was out at the highway in no time. Well there, I hardly had time to set the pack down and take a photo before I got a ride to Windy Point.

The weather was starting to look a bit grey, after having been nice all morning, but the forecast was for afternoon rain so it was to be expected.

It was a reasonably easy walk, about 18 km, to Hope-Kiwi Lodge, mostly following the river and it was just a matter of getting it done.

I didn’t feel very strong, despite the rest days and I was feeling pain in my left knee. I had hoped that both me and my knee would have been better after 2 days in Hanmar Springs, but that did not seem to be the case.

I had a full load of food again but, surprisingly, the backpack did not feel all that heavy. At least I seemed to be getting used to that.

I had a small plan to hopefully be able to walk all the way to Rakaia River with this time, and from there make my way to Christchurch for one or two rest days and to change some equipment. But the way my knee was feeling, I started thinking that I might have to make my way to Christchurch from Arthur’s Pass instead.

There were some small showers during the afternoon, but I managed to stay dry up until the last half hour, when it started raining properly.

It was nice to reach the hut and it was empty!

I made some dinner, beef stroganoff, had some tea with honey and lay back to listen to “A gift of time”.

Just as I was more or less sure that I would have the hut to myself, a Dutch and Belgian couple, Guido and Hannah, turned up. I had met them earlier at and after Anne Hut and they told me that Chris might even be on his way behind them.

Hopefully tomorrow will start out with some rain and then start clearing up and my plan will be to get an early start and try to get some miles done in order to see what my knee feels like.

On the other had, if it’s raining to hard, I might just stay here, it’s a nice hut!

Hope Kiwi Hut to Hurunui Hut no 3:

I started early in order to be able to make it to Hurunui no 3 before dark. It was going to be a long day, but I wanted to make sure I made it to Arthur’s Pass before the rumored rain started

I made it to Hurunui no 5 for lunch and set of after just a short break because I wanted to have time for a soak in the hot pool that was supposed to be halfway between the huts.

When I got there, I quickly jumped in and enjoyed the heat soaking into my tired legs. Unfortunately, it only took a few minutes before I was being eaten alive by sandflies!

Getting out and getting dressed was even worse, I’ve never seen so many sandflies in one place.

I pushed on to Hurunui no 3 hut and found Christi and Mairead there. Later in the evening Hannah and Guido turned up as well. They had decided to try to make sure they weren’t trapped on the wrong side of the river if it started raining.

Hurunui no 3 to Kiwi Hut:

Everyone had decided to get to Kiwi hut the next day, in order to be able to cross the river and get off the trail before it started raining on Tuesday.

I started out first, as usual, and was expecting everyone to pass me before Locke Stream Hut, but for once, I made it there first. We had lunch on the veranda, in the sun, and headed out towards Kiwi hut.

The first river crossing after Locke Stream Hut was the first harder one and actually turned out to be the one with the strongest current on the whole section. I managed to get over ok, but in the middle I was thinking to myself that I would not have liked for it to be any stronger!

I was expecting everyone to catch me pretty quickly, but they had found the river crossing a bit much as well and it was quite a while before they reached me.

We all got to Kiwi hut at about the same time and settled in for the night. Later in the evening, 3 more hikers turned up. The first north bound hikers we had seen for a while and we asked a lot about the upcoming river crossings.

Kiwi hut to Aitkens:

The next day was supposed to be easy, but with a couple of bigger river crossings and a trail that was very poorly marked, we stuck together and took our time. You couldn’t really get lost as you only had to follow the river, but a lot of sections were washed out and you had to scramble through the undergrowth or climb along the river bed.

For the first bigger river crossing, we linked up and crossed over together. Nice and safe and no problems!

The next and last one before we arrived at the road, we did without linking up as it was a bit easier and we were all relived to be almost back in civilization.

It took longer to hitch to Arthur’s Pass than at any hitch earlier but we finally arrived there after a short lunch stop at the Otira hotel.

It turned out that Robert had got there an hour before me and Chris turned up 2 hours later. Everyone was in the same place and we decided to have dinner together that evening.

In the end there were about 10 TA hikers in the cafe that evening and it was a very nice night. Good food, good company, beer and lots of stories to share!

It turned out to have been a very good decision to get of the trail, as it was going to start raining heavily the next day, making the river crossings difficult or impossible. I decided to take the bus to Christchurch, rest my knee and try to plan for the coming sections.

Christchurch:

After a nice buss ride to Christchurch, the first thing I did was to buy a new backpack. My Exped pack was working well, I was surprised how well it carried quite a large load, but I was missing having more pockets to organize my stuff in. Most lightweight backpacks only have the one large compartment and it turns out that I am the kind of guy who wants several smaller pockets in order to be able to know what is where and get my hands on it quickly. It just makes life so much easier when you are living out of your backpack. I also wanted to try a new type of backpack that has pockets on the front and distributes the load more evenly around your center of gravity, supposedly making it easier to carry and giving you better balance. Both Mairead and Christi were using them and liked them. As they are designed just outside of Christchurch, I thought that if nothing else, it would make a good souvenir.

🙂

I’ll let you know how it works as I get a few miles done with the new pack….

I’ve spent today organizing buss tickets and transfers as well as buying food, and tomorrow Robert and I are taking the buss back to the trailhead. We will miss Goats Pass, but I can always come back and do that when I come back to Christchurch after reaching Bluff (if…).

We have transport organized between the big rivers ahead and should be out on the trail for about a week, so don’t be surprised if you don’t hear anything for a while!

Keep walking….