Takitimu Mountains and the Te Araroa Trail. (mid November)
From Winton, where Stephen lives, we spent a couple of hours shuffling cars about in order to have a vehicle at either end of our trip. Then it was away tramping up to Aparima Hut, where we deposited some food, and then a few more hours up to the Aparima Biv further up the Valley where we stayed the night. Here the track ran out, so we bush-bashed our way up the valley until we reached the upper basin. Then it was a slog up through wet boggy tussock and then waist-high prickly scrub to reach an upper basin, and thence up to a prominent saddle. Here everything was very confusing, heavily eroded country greeted us which did not match the map indications. This would have been a good opportunity for Leo to practice his GPS skills, but he hadn’t opened the instruction manual and with the deteriorating weather, this was no time to launch into unknown technology. So we back-tracked, and found a reasonable campsite in the upper valley.
The next morning it was back into the bush and heading downstream in the direction of the bivy. But we never found it despite dropping down into the creek on numerous occasions. Then a major creek appeared on our right, which we took to be Spence Creek. Then all was revealed. We had spent the last two days in the wrong valley! So back we went to the Aparima Hut and picked up our food drop and stayed the night.
With now revised plans, we headed north to the Princhester Hut along the Te Araora track. Well signposted, but quite hard going through-waist high tussock and a long way to the hut. A night spent here, then south down Waterloo Burn and back to our old friend ,the Aparima Hut. From here, another day’s tramping took us to the Lower Wairaki Hut, little used, and in the middle of nowhere, but a nice cosy hut all the same. The next morning, diversion skywards with an overly protective falcon. The photographers had a great time. That morning it was endlessly uphill tramping, then when we cleared the bush, we had our best views of the whole trip looking southwards to Foreaux Strait and Stewart Island. Downhill now down Heartbreak Spur to a campsite on the northern boundary of Mt Linton Station. Very attractive farming country from here onwards. The trail follows through the station along farm tracks, and one is obliged to follow the route-marks. This is part of the agreement reached with crossing through this private land.
Two things to take note from this trip. Learn how to use a GPS before venturing out with one. And the Te Araora Trail is a route rather than a track
Three of us on the trip, Leo, Stephen and Robert