Hiking Statistics

The following is a list of all Multiday Hikes I’ve completed since I began walking long hikes in August 2011. All but the first has links to the relevant write up I did on each hike.

HikeCountryRegionDaysDistance (km)
1Rainbow Beach Training WalkAustraliaQueensland240
2Larapinta TrailAustraliaNorthern Territory17230
3Conondale Great! WalkAustraliaQueensland356
4Gold Coast Hinterland Great! WalkAustraliaQueensland354
5Yurrebilla TrailAustraliaSouth Australia354
6Major Mitchell Plateau – The GrampiansAustraliaVictoria226
7The Overland TrackAustraliaTasmania765
8Wilsons PromontoryAustraliaVictoria350
9Mt Bogong Big River Circuit – Alpine National ParkAustraliaVictoria350
10Burchell Trail – Brisbane Ranges National ParkAustraliaVictoria338
11Bogong Wilderness – North Koscioscko National ParkAustraliaVictoria242
12Paso de la OvejaArgentinaPatagonia228
13Parque Nacional Torres del PaineChilePatagonia9110
14Mt Fitz Roy TriangleArgentinaPatagonia334
15Cerro Catedral, Parque Nacional Nahuel HuapiArgentinaPatagonia220
16El ChoroBoliviaBolivia349
17Colca CanyonPeruPeru320
18Santa Cruz Trek, Cordillera BlancaPeruPeru350
19El Altar, Sanjay National Park,EcuadorEcuador325
20Ciudad Perdida – Sierra Nevada National ParkColombiaColombia444
21Kalaw to Inle LakeMyanmarMyanmar357
22Land’s End – St Ives to PenzanceEnglandCornwall466
23Boudicca WayEnglandNorfolk358
24Sandstone TrailEnglandCheshire355
25Inn Way of the Lake DistrictEnglandLake District7145
26The Inn Way to the Peak DistrictEnglandPeak District6135
27Great Glen WayScotlandScotland6126
28Arran Coastal WayScotlandScotland6105
29Camino Portugúes de CostaPortugal and SpainPortugal and Spain12280
30Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB)France, Italy and SwitzerlandFrance, Italy and Switzerland10165
31Pinnacles Loop TrackNew ZealandCoromandel217
32Routeburn TrackNew ZealandFiordland332
33Abel Tasman Coastal TrailNew ZealandNelson460
34Travers Sabine Angelus CircuitNew ZealandNelson Lakes680
35Rangitoto Motutapu CircuitNew ZelandAuckland226
36Alpha and Omega, Tararua RangesNew ZealandWairarapa439
37Pouakai Circuit, Mt TaranakiNew ZealandTaranaki323
38Cape Brett TrackNew ZealandNorthland231
39Tongariro Northern CircuitNew ZealandManawatu/Waikato445
40Southern Alps CrossingNew ZealandWest Coast13171
41Aotea TrackNew ZealandGreat Barrier Island342
Total  1862843

Aotea Track, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

Great Barrier Island is 100km North East of Auckland Central, and sits between the Hauraki Gulf and the Pacific Ocean just to the north of the Coromandel Penninsula. More than half of the island is a nature reserve, and the 1000+ residents live off the grid.


I first visited Great Barrier 25 years ago, and have been trying to get back to do a hike for months now. I’ ha’d planned it as a warm up hike before my Southern Alps crossing, but it wasn’t to be. First, a downpour flooded Auckland, including the airport, so I couldn’t fly out, then the Island was closed down due to the Cyclone Gabrielle. Now, a month after completing my Southern Alps crossing, and I finally made it.

Day 1: Whangaparapara Road to Mt Heale Hut – 8.2 km – 3.5 hours – Red Track

I’d tossed around catching the car ferry over, but with the extra costs associated with it, flying was only a little more expensive. So, after a quick 30 minute flight in a 12 seater Cessna aircraft, I arrived on the island.


I’d arranged to be collected from the airport and delivered to the trailhead by a local transport. I arrived at 2:10 pm, and with an estimated 4 hours walk, I set out along a wide track beside a stream. As daylight savings ended last night, sunset was going to be just after 6, so I was going to be close.


Along the trail I got my first look across the grasslands, with views of the short mountains beyond.


The trail was flat and the smell of sulphur in the air heralded in my arrival at the ‘hot springs’. The springs themselves were more of a luck warm stream with pools along it. I might have gone in if I hadn’t been pressed for time, although as they weren’t quite hot, they lost their appeal.


Not long after the hot springs, I arrived at the Tramline trail where Kauri Trees were logged more than 100 years ago. A view out over the grasslands to Kaitoke and Medlands Beaches.


The Tramline track was also flat until it headed up Peach Tree Trail, which began a crazy amount of steps. This would be a reccuring theme on the island.


Starting near sea level, I climbed towards the the hut at 412m. The lack of breeze ensured that my climb felt more like I was swimming up the mountains in my own sweat. But the views were worth the energy.


And I got a better look back to Kaitoke and Medlands Beaches as I got higher. The trees gave way to low scrub giving an almost alpine feel on a mix of dirt path and stairs.


At the 400m altitude mark, I saw the sign to the Hut stating 5 min and 200 m. I arrived soon after and found a family group of 4 already there. I went in, claimed a bunk, had a quick hiker’s shower before going out to watch the sunset. Then while chatting to the family members, I cooked a Chef Corso Trail Meal, Macaroni with Bacon and Blue Cheese.


Day 2: Mt Heale Hut to Kaiaraara Hut via Mt Hobson Lookout and Port Fitzroy – 16.9km – 4.75 hours – Pink Track

After a fitful night’s sleep, I arose and got ready for today’s walk. First, I climbed past Mt Heale to the summit of Mt Hobson, the tallest mountain on the island, at 627m. I was to have climbed past Mt Hobson and along the ridgeline to the next hut, but due to a slip the trail that was was closed. So I’d left my pack at the hut.


I knew there was going to be a lot of steps, as others in the hut had complained about the sheer number. I didn’t bother counting on the way up, concentrating on the climbing until I reached the summit platform with almost 360 degree views. This over Whangapoua Bay…


and this over Port Fitzroy with Kaikoura Island, in the centre, and Little Barrier Island, in the distance.


I counted 1016 stairs on the way back to the hut where I picked up my pack and headed straight off again. A sign at the top of the South Fork Track said an hour to the Forest Road, not far from the hut. So it was going to be a short day. The trail headed down slowly, crossing a wire bridge as it went.


The trail was wide and an easy descent. Along the way I passed a pair of woman, the only two people I’d see on the track today.


The trail crossed a stream several times, and was easy to avoid getting my boots wet, although the trail was a little muddy and slippery at times. I finally came out at the Forest Road after an hour and a half. Not sure where they got an hour from as I wasn’t walking slowly. The Forest Road is rocky road though the nature reserve, and the sign said 30 minutes to the hut, but it only took 10 minutes.


At the hut I ran into one of the ladies from the hut last night. It was early, so we decided to walk the 5km into Port Fitzroy. I’d heard there was a burger place, which turned out to be closed, so we continued walking to the Boat Club, hoping for a burger, but that was also closed. We did manage to persuade the owner to sell us a beer though. Afterwards, we stopped at the shop on the way back. That evening we discovered there were mice under the hut, as my hutmate had left a bag outside with a chocolate bar in it. The mice enjoyed that. Thankfully they couldn’t get inside.

Day 3: Kaiaraara Hut to Green Campsite via Mt Maungapiko – 17km – 4 hours – Green Track

Today would be the longest day, although most of it would be spent walking along the Forest Road. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a view most of the time, so I took whatever photos I could.


Then a short side trail with a bunch of stairs led down 50m to a pair of large Kauri Trees. After the logging a century ago, there were few of the ancient giants left, and with Kauri Dieback Disease, there are likely to be few others living to such greatness.


30 minutes later, I came to the turn off to Mt Maungapiko, a 280m peak with good views. It was the only climb off the Forest Road, and in time for lunch, so I took the opportunity, and climbed the rough rock to the top where there’s a wooden bench.


I stopped for lunch, taking photos of the near 360 degree views.


And back the way I’d come.


Back on the Forest Road, I headed down to a stream, the climbed for the final time before finally reaching the South Tramline Track. The actual metal tramline had been removed many years ago, leaving just a steep descent. About halfway down I came to the turnoff to the Kauri Falls, and stopped to have a look.


Then it was a fairly easy walk, crossing numerous streams via wooden bridges, before I came out near Whangaparapara, then a 7 minute walk to the Green Campsite, opposite the village. I set up my tent, then went for a short walk along the main road of Whangaparapara hoping to find a beer at the lodge, but it was closed. So, I just chilled, reading in the sun.


The next morning, I packed and had breakfast, before I met the trail transport guy who dropped me off at the airport for my 30 minute flight home.


The hike was a fairly easy walk over three days, and would have made the perfect warmup hike had it not been for the weather events. I enjoyed my time there in relative quiet.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Savai’i Island, Samoa – Impressions

In March 2023 I headed out to Samoa for a weeklong family gathering in Upolu, the country’s main island. Then once much of the family returned home, myself and my parents visited Samoa’s other main island, Savai’i. For me it was to explore a place I’d not been before, and for my parents it was to trace back some of our family heritage by finding a family cemetery.

Savai’i is the largest island in the Samoan Islands chain, both in size and height, and is the sixth largest Polynesian island after the 3 New Zealand Islands and two of the Hawaiian islands. Savai’i is more traditional than Upolu with a more relaxed feel. There is also no airport on the island, so arrival must be via boat, usually the car ferry.

Ferry to Savai’i

There are two ferrys to Savai’i, a small one and a larger one. On our trip over from Upolu Island, was in the small ferry. It’s the first car ferry I’ve ever had to reverse onto it, but I was guided on by helpful workers. This ferry had no sitting area, so we stayed in the car without aircon. We did find a spot at the edge of the deck where we could feel the wind. On the way back, we were on the larger ferry and locked up the car and went to sit in the airconditioned passenger seating area.


On the slow chug of the ferry, we passed the small islands of Manono and Apolima. The trip over on the small ferry took 90 minutes, while the larger one took about an hour.


Beach Fale

Fale in Samoan means ‘building’, and they are very common on the islands. The original fales were simple structures made from posts and a thatched roof. These days they’ve been modernised with concrete floors and corrugated iron roofs. Beach Fales are common ways for families to make extra money by renting them out to visitors. Mine had woven shields on the back half and tarpaulin sheets on the ocean facing half. While these provide some privacy, they can block the elements, especially during heavy winds or storms. The woven panels when partially drawn are good for allowing air flow on the usually steamy island nights.


Inside mine were two beds, one with a mattress to sleep on, the other to put my bags on, plus a small table, a chair and most importantly, a mosquito net. For convenience, mine also had a light and a power plug. While not for some – my parents stayed in a resort up the road – I like trying new things, and on most days the views out the front at high tide were amazing. From time to time, I’d even see a turtle popping it’s head out of the water.


Breakfast and dinner are both included in accommodation, all traditional fare, and on the last night, there were lobster tails, local BBQ, a cooked salad with fried taro and potato.

Saleaula Lava Fields

On the 3rd of August, 1905, molten lava began blowing from the ground from Mt Matavanu. It spilled over the crater’s rim filling a deep river valley leading to the flat Saleaula coastal plain, overwhelming part of Saleaula Village. A year later and much of the coastal plain had been covered, the lagoon had been filled, a vertical basalt cliff had built up over the coral reef, and five villages with their adjacent farming land had been buried. The eruption continued for a total of 6 years.


One of the buildings that was hit by the lava was the London Missionary Church, the remains still standing.


Some things didn’t succumb to the lava, like the Virgin’s Grave. Some say it belonged to a virgin daughter of a high chieftain, while others say it belonged to a virgin nun. In either case, the reasoning why the lava went around the grave instead of over was because the girl was so pure.


Safotu Congregational Christian Church of Samoa

This church, in the north western corner of Savai’i, is known for being the last church built from crushed coral. Coral was used to build many things in Samoa, from roads to buildings. Crushed to a fine sand, it was mixed with limestone to make a concrete. It’s been painted within the last few years to look almost new.


Flying Foxes

There is a species of flying fox in Samoa known as the Pe’a, which can also be found on Fiji and American Samoa. They are a hunted species, often eaten on special occasions by the locals.


Pe’a Pe’a Cave

The cave is a lava tube from around the time of the First World War, when lava rushed through the area burning through whatever was here then hardening into a long tunnel. Steps lead down into the cave which then widens, running for 50m or so before the roof drops to low to walk under. I stopped there, but apparently the cave goes for a kilometre to the ocean, but can be too narrow to get through in places. The name of the cave is from the Pe’a Pe’a bird which nests in and around the cave. We saw one flying circles around the end of the cave.


Alofa’aga Blowholes

These are also known as the Taga Blowholes you must pass Taga villageto get to the blowholes and pay WST5 to use the land. Here, lava flows have created a series of tubes connecting a flat clifftop of lava rock with the ocean below. Waves breaking against the lower end of the lava tubes push water at high pressure up through the tubes, sending spray followed by fountains into the air every few seconds. There are many of these along this area near the ancient village of Fagaloa.


Afu Aau Waterfall

The waterfall was WST10 to go into as it is on Palauli land. There are three parts to the falls, the two minor falls along the track, and the main one at the end. There is a legend that a giant named Mafane lived near the Palauli village. Over time he turned into a mountain that erupted forming a crater for water. Twenty-five streams run from the crater – the 25 warriors of Mafane’s battalion – feeding 7 rivers, one of which runs down the Afu Aau waterfalls. The pool was large and two of us from the tour swam in it, climbing up the rocks behind the waterfall and jumping in the pool. Note, there are rocks in the pool, so it’s suggested to be careful when jumping. The pool was cool and crisp, great in the heat of the day, although the steps to get out were slippery. Some girls in the next fale from me went a few days after we did, and the waterfall wasn’t flowing. The could still swim in the pool though.


John Williams Memorial

Samoa is a christian society with over 100 churches on the islands and strict holy day views with church services important. John Williams was a British missionary who visited many of the island chains throughout the Pacific bringing the word of christianity. The first was one of the islands of French Polynesia, before he moved on to the Cook Islands and many others. He arrived in Samoa in 1830 to meet with the then high chief who accepted christianity immediately. Then, with the aid of local translators he created the first bibles for the Pacific Islands. Unfortunately, on arriving in the New Hebrides, now known as Vanuatu, he was killed and eaten by cannibals. This monument was built in his honour and stands on the eastern shore of Savai’i.


Matautu Bay Snorkelling

I’d brought my own snorkelling gear so I wanted to get in amongst the coral at some point on my Samoan explorations. I found the only Dive company on the island – Dive Savai’i Samoa – and booked a trip. Because of the small numbers, there were three separate groups on the boat, snorkelers, divers training for their accreditation and an accredited diver. Each of the three groups had a guide/instructor. They took us out to three separate locations around Matautu Bay. The one thing I was missing was an underwater camera, as mine had died in Rarotonga and new ones were quite expensive.


At our first stop, we swum behind the guide along the length of a coral reef with many fish, and to my surprise many turtles, some sleeping around the coral, others just out for an afternoon swim. The second spot was near an old ship wreak, the John Williams 5 apparently, but I was unable to find any information online about it. And while we were there, a turtle came to visit, eating little squares of Papaya skin we threw to it. Last stop was the coral garden, but we had to be careful, as some areas were quite shallow. Overall, a great day out on and in the water.


Cemetery of Distant Relatives

One of the main reasons to come to Savai’i was to track down our family’s burial ground so dad could continue his work crafting the family history. We were shown the family houses in the Manase village close to where we were staying, and found that the cemetery was up on the hill. Unfortunately, with dad’s health he’s unable to climb a hill in the heat, but I was able to talk to the woman who owns my fale and tell her our story. In true Samoan style, she was off next door to organise a 4 x 4 vehicle to take us up there. An hour later we were being driven up a crazy 4 x 4 track, bobbing madly back and forth as it went. Before long we came out at the cemetery where they were preparing a grave for a funeral at the end of our stay. There were only headstones there, but they dated back more than 100 years to Dad’s adopted father’s parents and kin. Later, I was come to learn that the owner of my fale is also a distant relative.



Savai’i Island is less built up than Upolu Island and there is less there to do and see. But we still managed to fill out time and enjoyed the more relaxing week of our stay.

Then after the week, we were back to Apia on Upolu Island for a few more days.

The World Wanderer

Upolu Island, Samoa, Impressions

In March 2023, myself and 14 members of my extended family flew out to the Island of Upolu in Samoa for a family gathering and to bring the ashes of my grandfather home. We all set up our base in Apia, the capital of Samoa and the largest city on Upolu.

Upolu is the main island of the Samoa, previously known as Western Samoa to differentiate it from American Samoa which separated in 1899. While not the largest island of the chain, Upolu has the highest population.


Apia is a mad mash of worlds. On one hand, there are wondrous resorts, restaurants and churches. On the other there are hovel markets, lines of shops, reminisant of south east Asia selling all manner of trinkets and knicknacks, sidewalk stalls, and so many taxis. Near the heart of the Apia is the clocktower.


Around the bay from the resorts is the marina, with many ships and small boats docked. There’s also a more upmarket bar and restaurant area called The Edge and has views over the marina, the bay and Apia.


After a couple of choice cocktails during happy hour, we walked five minutes down the road to one of the best restuarants on the island, Paddles, stopping to admire the lights of Apia across the bay.


Garden Fale

While the other 14 members of my extended family stayed at a large and somewhat expensive resort, I went for the more local style at another resort a couple of kilometres away. And instead of an air conditioned room with TV, bar fridge, toilet and shower etc, I chose a garden fale. The fale is literally just a room with a roof and woven shades on each side pulled down for privacy and protection from the elements. It’s hot inside, but by partially pulling up some of the shades, a draft can pass through. Inside there is just a pair of mattresses on the floor, mosquito netting on each, a lockable safety box, a light and a pair of power outlets. This was my first experience with a fale of the kind, but not my last. It was a fun and sweaty experience, that I enjoyed, although in this case I only stayed two nights instead of the nine I’d booked due to bed bugs.


Fiafia Night

The resort where my extended family were staying hosts a Fiafia every Wednesday, so we decided to take part in this cultural event. There is much dancing and singing by our hosts, and a large buffet dinner with suckling pork on the menu. Someone even leaked to the crew that there was a birthday and they dragged my sister up to present her with a cake.

Then once the singing and dancing inside was done, we were herded outside for the fire show. An enjoyable experience.

Sua Ocean Trench

Fifteen people is a lot to transport around the island, especially if the only people mover we could rent was a 12 seater. We decided to split the group and five of us headed on a road trip across and around the island to the To-Sua, which in samoan means ‘giant swimming hole’. It has salt water flowing in from one side, and at high tide, you can climb down the crazy lader and swim in it. A great day out for the WST20 entry fee.



On the way to and from the Sua Ocean Trench, we passed five waterfalls:

Papapapai Falls
In the centre of Upolu are the tallest falls in Samoa dropping 100m into a volcanic crater. There is a carpark on the side of the road and a short 10m trail through the the grass to the best views . There was no charge for this waterfall.


Togitogiga Waterfall
On the south side of Upolu is O le Pupu-Pue National Park, we followed a short road to a carpark. Then a short fairly flat 200m walk along a rocky track leads to a park with fales, a bbq, toilets and two pools, one above and one below the falls. The falls aren’t large, but gush down into the lower pool. It’s known to have been a place where great warriors of Samoa’s past swam. Four days later, we drove out to have another look with a different group, only to find that the falls were dry. How quickly things change. These falls are also free to visit.


Sopoaga Falls
Near the Sua Ocean Trench, a well manicured garden surrounds a viewing platform looking across a river basin to the falls. Cost to enter this area is WST10, so only I checked it out, my family members deciding to sit this one out. While not as impressive as Papapapai Falls, the garden area is a place you could spend an hour chilling over a picnic lunch or similar. The river valley flowing away from the waterfall is also rather impressive, with great green walls disappearing into the distance.


Fuipisia Falls
These 55m tall jungle falls are apparently spectacular, but at WST20 it was too rich for us to look at for a few minute viewing. This was however, the only waterfalls our other contingent stopped at, talking the land owner into dropping the price to WST10. Photo courtesy of them.

Falefa Falls
Near the north side of the island again, the final waterfall we visited was right by the road, and we stopped quickly to check it out. It’s only a short falls, with a river continuing to run out to sea, but apparently you can swim in it. We didn’t stop at the official garden entrance, but at the side looking down at it. But as we looked, a man came out of a fale 20m behind us and charged us WST5 to view it.


Parase’ea Sliding Rocks

Not far out of Apia are the Parase’ea Sliding Rocks. It’s one of those redundant double names like East Timor, which in East Timorese is literally East East. Parase’ea means ‘sliding rocks’ in Samoan. There are a trio of small waterfalls, all with somewhat smooth rocks that can be slid down into a pool at the bottom. Entry fee is WST5 each.

The top falls were the shortest and easiest to slide down (photo not included). The second and main slide is more dramatic and when you come down the 100 or so steps to the sliding rocks it’s the first you come to. The far side is the correct side, due to there being a deep enough pool. It’s nerve-racking sitting at the top and pushing yourself over, but it ends quickly enough with a splash at the bottom.


The bottom one has two parts. I called the first part the devil’s throat as it reminded me of the Iguazu Falls in South America. Sliding down into the pool surrounded by water from three sides.


Then pushing up onto a lip and sliding down the next on the left side, gaining air at the end before dropping into a pool.


Then, once we were done, we climbed back to the carpark where there are great views down over Apia.

Robert Louis Stevenson Museum

Robert Louis Stevenson was a British writer born in 1850 who wrote such classics as Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Suffering from health problems for most of his life, he decided to move to the Samoa in 1889 where the climate greatly helped his condition. In 1890 he purchased land and had a large 2-story house built, the first in the country. He would die here four years later, but not before becoming a beloved advocate of the Samoan people.


During the last days of my stay, I caught a taxi to his house, which has since been converted into a museum. I took the tour and heard tales of him, his wife, her 2 children from her previous marriage, and his mother.


On his sudden death in 1893, Samoans stood a vigil over his body for the night, before clearing a way to the top of the hill nearby where they carried his body, and laid it to rest. After the tour, I set off up a trail to the top of that hill. There are two paths, the short steep one, and the long, not so steep one. I climbed the short one, and dripping heavily with sweat in the 32º heat, stopped several times to catch my breath and check out the view.


I finally reached the top where I found his resting place and a cool breeze.


There were excellent views back down to his house and the surrounding area. When I was done, I decided to take the longer route back down again, which was certainly a lot longer and less step, along with being fairly muddy.



Upolu wasn’t what I was expecting, especially after my month in Rarotonga a year ago. The number of cars racing everywhere, dozens of taxis taking people back and forth for next to nothing, the mass of people in Apia, then the quieter areas all over the rest of the island. The sheer number of Fales and villages was all an experience, especially in the 32 degree heat. The people are generally friendly wherever you go and the atmosphere is very laid back. It was a good time to see a new country, and spend time with the extended family while we scattered the ashes in the sea outside where my grandfather grew up.

The World Wanderer

Southern Alps Crossing – New Zealand – Days 11 – 13

In late February 2023 I embarked on my longest walk in New Zealand, 13 days across the Southern Alps of the South Island. Go back to Days 9 – 10 or the beginning Days 1 – 3.

Day 11 – Mudflats Hut to Mid Styx Hut – 12.38 km – 6 hours – Yellow

My German hut mate for the night left in the dark to walk out along the trail I’d come in on yesterday, so when I awoke, I did my usual breakfast and pack up routine before heading out. The rain had stopped early this morning, but the grasses would no doubt be wet. The sky in the direction I was heading looked promising.


I crossed the river via the wire bridge and followed the trail along the grassland alongside the river. Not far along, it began to climb, but not high, perhaps 100m in elevation before levelling out in a wide flat trail similar to the one coming around the mountain yesterday. The trail continued for several kilometres, crossing many small streams, creeks and rock slides, but staying wide and flat, although edging higher as it went. The views along the river continued with Harman Hut, where the German girl had come from yesterday, somewhere down that way.


But I wasn’t going that far as my trail came to a T junction, the third trail heading over the Styx saddle, a low pass compared to many in the area. It wasn’t a difficult climb, more annoying as it was through tall grasses with little streams running across it, not to mention bogs here and there. I got wet as I crossed it, both boots and body due to the still wet grass, some of which were taller than me. I followed the trail markers towards the edge of the saddle hidden in mist. I passed a memorial of several people who’d died in a plane crash in the area in 1979.


The way down was more thick grasses and thin trees along small streams but the mist cleared and I could see the descent ahead.


It was fairly gentle for the most part, dropping more than 100m to the grassy river plains below.


It didn’t take me long, crossing the occasional wide creek before popping out on the grassy plains.


One more creek and I arrived at the Grassy Flat Hut. This is where I’d intended to walk to yesterday if it hadn’t been for the rain. I stopped, boots off and went inside to make a coffee and have lunch. I also checked the routes to the next hut. Over the wet winter, the heavy rains had washed away a section of the trail meaning that all walkers had to follow the trail to the Mid Styx Hut instead of just following the trail along the Styx River to the carpark. This meant I’d have to do a major river crossing at some point.


I headed out again after lunch, crossing some river flats, through grasses taller than myself, finding a way across a deep stream and then across the river to the far bank. From here I’d walk for an hour looking for the sign telling me where to cross the river, all the while watching the river grow deeper and wider.


I almost missed the sign, but headed down the bank to the river. There was no hope I was going to keep my boots dry here, so I ensured nothing was in my pockets and waded on it, using my poles to help stabilise me against the flow of the river. The water at its highest didn’t quite reach my crotch thankfully, and I made it without much of an issue. I then headed up a thin trail into the woods that climbed somewhat steeply at points, but eventually levelled out through the thin trees. I passed the point on my GPS map and kept walking to eventually come out at a little hut. This one had an old style fireplace and no toilet. So I set about getting ready for the evening, getting wood in ready for a fire. There were plenty of tools in the hut, so I got a spade and found a nice place to dig a hole away from the trail, for tomorrow morning’s business. Then I settled in, got the fire going and chilled out for the evening.


Day 12 – Mid Styx Hut to Hans Bay Campsite – 17.7 km – 6 hours – Pink

I awoke the next morning feeling good and ready for my final day in the wilderness, as tomorrow will be mostly a road walk from the DOC campsite to Hokitika. I was lying in bed thinking about getting up when it began to rain, so I got moving. I’d seen warnings that after heavy rain the Tyndall Creek and Styx River are dangerous to cross, and the first part of my day would be walking along Tyndall Creek. Halfway though getting ready it began to pour which disheartened me and I lay back in my bed considering staying in the hut for the day. Then I heard footsteps outside and opened the door to find two guys wet from the rain. They were just passing through and headed on along the trail. This pushed me to get moving and I packed, did my morning ablutions and headed out 30 minutes later. I weaved quickly through the forest along the trail for a kilometre until it began descending steeply, eventually coming out at Tyndall Creek.


After the warnings, I was nervous about following the creek as I was expecting to spend a lot of time climbing over the rocks in the raging creek as I’d done down Newton Creek. But I found much of the trail was on either side, through the trees and bushes, crossing it several times.


After 45 minutes, I emerged at the Styx River, crossed Tyndall Creek one last time before heading along the top of the bank on the true left side of the river – the left side in the direction it is flowing. I wandered through the forest at the top of the bank for 500m before climbing down a small creek to grassy plains.


I followed the plains for a kilometre and a half, occasionally diving into the forest. At the last hut there had been a map telling me where I was to cross the Styx river safely and it was near where I’d planned to begin climbing to Brown Hut. But due to the on-the-fly changes I’d made to my walk, along with the weather, I decided to skip this final climb and walk to the car park instead. I found the location the map had said and crossed the river without difficulty, again using my poles to stabilise me. On the other side I found the original trail and walked for less than 100m before the trail ended at a massive rock slide. This forced me to cross the river again. And again, it wasn’t difficult. Then another kilometre along, I saw a marker on the far side of the river so crossed a third time and found a 4 x 4 track.


I followed this for nearly a kilometre before finally emerging at the carpark. I knew if I stopped for any length of time the sand flies would feed, so I began the walk to my campsite hopeful that I might be randomly picked up like I had been on my road walk on day 6. The walk along Dorothy Falls Road to the campsite was about 6 km.


The road tracked through the forest for a bit, climbing here and there before passing the falls.


It rained on and off but not heavily as I passed some grazing fields with views of the mountains. I was passed by about a dozen vehicles from cars to large RVs, but no-one offered me a ride. Note, I wasn’t trying to hitch, just wondering if anyone would kindly offer me one.


My first sighting of the lake was half way along, a narrow gap of water with mountains on the far side.


The road the road weaved through more forest to emerge beside the lake. I walked the final couple kilometres as the road turned from the stones to tar seal and I knew the campsite was near when I rounded a corner to see a large cell tower.
I found the camp and walked around looking for a spot away from the RVs, of which there were plenty, and pitched my tent. This was the first I’d used it in the 12 days I’d spent walking. While it’s only light, the items I’d carried only to use on this particular night would come to 2.5 kilos more than 10% of my pack weight. When set up, I relaxed in the sun, drying clothes and boots while reading and catching up on everything I’d missed online over the past 6 days.


Day 13 – Hans Bay Campsite to Hokitika Central – 21 km – 1 hours – Red

I shouldn’t really include this day in my walk, as I decided not to walk the three hour trail along the ridge, instead trying to hitch a lift into Hokitika. It was a little cold over night in my tent as I’d gotten used to sleeping in huts with a fire. After having breakfast and packing, I set out along the road, putting my thumb out for the first time. I worked out it would take me 5 hours to walk the 21 km to Hokitika and was more than happy to walk if no-one picked me up. A handful of cars passed me before the end of the lake.


I then headed along Lake Kaniere Road – which sounds like you are saying Lake Canary – and had walked a total of 3 kilometres before a van pulled over to pick me up. A tour operator had just dropped a host of people off near the lake to ride bicycles back to Hokitika. We chatted the 20 minutes to the town, but as it was too early to book into my accommodation, he took me on a tour of the town.


Afterwards he dropping me off at a laundrette that he owned where I did all my washing and lay me tent out to dry in the glorious sun. When all was dry, I headed into town for lunch and then to my accommodation.


The thirteen day walk was different than I expected. I didn’t expect the first 6 days to be so flat along the Harper Pass, or that there would be so many TA walkers, but it was a good build up to being on a long term hike. In turn, I was expecting the second part to be more rugged and peaceful with big climbs and long descents, but it was more brutal than I expected. I’m glad I chose to take an emergency beacon this time just in case although thankfully I didn’t need it. I enjoyed my walk, but the overall most exhausting part was the rain, which overall made the trek less fun.

I do chalk it up as an achievement, crossing the large set of mountains in the country I grew up in, and marks the end of a year of walking in New Zealand.

Until next time,

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Southern Alps Crossing – New Zealand – Days 9 – 10

In late February 2023 I embarked on my longest walk in New Zealand, 13 days across the Southern Alps of the South Island. Go back to Days 7 – 8 or to the beginning Days 1 – 3.

Day 9 – Mid Taipo Hut to Newton Creek Hut – 6.9 km – 11 hours – Red

It had rained a little overnight and as today would be a long difficult day, I wasn’t pleased that everything would be wet. Clouds hung atop the ridges, and I hoped they’d blow over. In the hut were instructions to get to the beginning of today’s climb, so I followed them back to the turn off and easily found the trail leading up the mountain.


While I’d been told the trail would be steep, it wasn’t as bad as expected. I’d imagined the climb from yesterday after the three war cableway, just much longer. But it turned out to be a moderate climb, fairly constant up rocks and roots only damp from the overnight rain.


And, after 90 minutes I popped out at the top amidst the mist.


The sign at the bottom had said 2 hours to the Dunn Creek Hut, but it took another hour to make my way through wet flax and vegetation.


A couple of wet stream crossings and I crossed a marshy, grassy mud patch leading up to hut. It was in better shape than I’d expected, but the heating had been removed and I’m glad I’d decided not to stay there. I took my boots off, brewed a coffee and ate some lunch.


Half an hour later, I headed out again across the boggy grasslands following the trail markers.


Much of the climb to Newton Saddle was up Dunn Creek, and it was pretty lively as I went. The trail pushed up the centre of the creek over wet rocks and wasn’t very pleasant as it was slippery and slow as I tried to ensure each step was stable. Thankfully over the hours I climbed, the creek grew thinner. At one point I must have climbed up the wrong rocky gully as lost sight of the regular orange markers. My GPS confirmed I was off track and I was forced to bush whack my way across the grassy mountain slope until I saw the correct creek with the markers. Going down would have cost me extra time.


I was mostly dry as I walked, but the occasional gust of cold wind from across the saddle was pretty miserable. I saw the markers go up the very steep side of the grassy bank away from the creek, and I knew this was the final climb to the saddle. It was hard going. I couldn’t use my poles, so let them dangle from my wrists with the straps. Each step was finding a footing and dragging myself up by the grass, bit by bit until I got 30 metres from the top when I could again use my poles. I finally got over the top and looked down to regard where I came from…


The hundred or so metres across the saddle was fairly flat and it felt good to not have to climb. I stopped at the top of the descent and looked down.


The climb down was the opposite of the ascent. It was easy going at the top, trickles of water in the rocks, but as I went it got thicker and heavier the trail going down the centre of the Newton Creek. I descended into the mist which grew bright from the occasional ray of the sun, only to fade again. With several other water flows joining the creek it got heavier and the rocks larger. I slipped several times, catching myself on my poles, bending them slightly under the strain. Sometimes I had to let go of them and catch myself on my arms in the water. I don’t remember bashing my ribs, but perhaps coming down hard on my arms caused bruising on my left side. It didn’t affect my walking, or carrying, only turning over at night. I had scratches and bruises down much of my legs and again wished I’d brought the full length gators.


The day was getting on and I realised I wasn’t going to make it to the hut I’d originally planned to stay in. There was another, closer one, so I decided to walk there. But again, because I hadn’t preplanned it on my digital map, I had to guess where it was. And at 7:30 pm, I was also starting to worry that I was losing daylight. Based on where I thought the hut was, I’d likely be walking in the semi dark with my head lamp. Thankfully I train for endurance, so even though I’d been going for more than 10 hours, I still had more in me. Another large creek joined the Newton Creek, making it just too wild to be rock hoping in a raging river. Thankfully the trail finally cut along the side for the first time during this descent. Then, as I followed the trail, I came out onto a grassy patch and looked over to see a hut. I wondered about there being another hut not shown on the map, but went over to it and it turned out to be the hut I was looking for and hour earlier than I predicted. The sense of relief was unimaginable. I set about getting out of my wet gear, having a wet wipe ‘hikers’ shower and getting into warm clothing. I topped up my water for the next day from the river, set out all my gear before getting the fire going. I cooked some dinner and just stared into the fire for what felt like hours.


Day 10 – Newton Creek Hut to Mudflats Hut – 5.1 km – 3.5 hours – Green

After belting myself around yesterday, I woke somewhat refreshed and ready to continue my trek. I packed up and headed out into the wet morning grass. The trail continued through the woods beside the raging river and it wasn’t long before I arrived at the 200m descent I’d been expecting last night. I’m glad I didn’t have to do it in the twilight or the dark, the slippery roots and steep trail was slow going as I had to be careful of every step. Half way down there was a grove of thin trees giving me something to hang onto as I descended.


I finally got to the bottom after an hour and came out at the Arahura River, which I stood little chance of crossing. But, according to the map, around the corner was a triple wire crossing, so I began rock hoping along, careful on the slippery boulders. Then, it began to spit, heralding in the rain.


There was a small climb up to the wire bridge, but according to the map the other side was going to be a bit of a bush whack as I climbed to a trail. But, I found that the trail had changed, and straight from the end of the bridge it began to climb. It wasn’t as steep as the earlier descent, and got my blood pumping. At the top of the climb the trail went both ways and was quite wide.


I figured this would be a brief patch of wide trail, but was pleasantly surprised. For several kilometres, the trail stayed wide and flat. Perhaps this was part of an old settlers trail and had been around for many decades, maybe even from the 1800s, with only the occasional stream crossing that was a little rocky. It continued to rain, but there was a fair covering, so I wasn’t affected too much. I also got views of the grassy river plains below.


Then came the descent along a small stream heading towards the hut, and while I’d planned to walk further today, the constant rain was bugging me, so I decided after the extreme day yesterday, I’d get to the Mudflats Hut and call it a day.


The trail down wasn’t hard and I emerged at the base of the mountain on the wet grassy plains in the rain. I crossed a long wire bridge and crossed more grassy lands before I was forced up a steep climb where I came out at the hut. The rain was still coming down, so I ducked inside and got prepared for the night, a hiker’s shower, a change of clothes, collecting for firewood etc. I’d been there two hours in the ongoing rain when I heard footsteps outside and a slight German girl appeared at the door. She’d come along the river I was heading up tomorrow. We chatted for a couple of hours as I lit the fire before I got on with my evening.


Next, the final part, Days 11 – 13 of my Southern Alps Crossing.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Southern Alps Crossing – New Zealand – Days 7 – 8

In late February 2023 I embarked on my longest walk in New Zealand, 13 days across the Southern Alps of the South Island. Go back to Days 4 – 6 or the beginning Days 1 – 3.

Day 7 – Rata Lodge Backpackers Otira to Dillon Hut – 14 km – 8 hours – Yellow

After a breakfast down at the local cafe, I packed and was delivered to the start point by the owner of the Backpackers. I’d originally planned to stop at Carroll Hut at the top of today’s climb, but after finding there was no heating there I decided to walk further. In the carpark I took my obligatory selfies to prove I was on the walk, then set off up the trail into the forest. I was barely 10 metres when a man emerged with pack on. He would be the last person I’d see for more than 24 hours.


The climb was by no means difficult but no easy fair either. I pushed on step by step and was rewarded by the occasional view out across the mountains. For the first steep climb of the walk, I finally got a good sweat on.


The good weather continued as I climbed out of the forest, passing the short stubby trees towards the top as I always seem to. I stopped and got another good shot along the range with Otira and Authur’s Pass in the distance.


The top two hundred metres the trail grew more rocky, feeling more exposed and dangerous.


But I finally crossed onto the tussock covered top and Carroll Hut came into view. At the hut I stopped for 30 minutes for lunch and to dry my sweaty clothes.


From here the trail was marked with posts, but the trail was not as well defined as before. This was fine atop the range which felt more like rolling hilltops than craggy mountain peaks.


As long as I could see the next pole, it didn’t matter that there were a meander of little trails leading to it. I go my first views down the other side where I’d eventually be descending to the river valley below.


The poles continued as did the suggested routes, which were fairly obvious due to the short vegetation. However, the mapping software I’d used to plot my course only listed the huts I’d planned to stay at, but as I’d decided to stay at a different one, I was forced to guess exactly where it was. Today was fairly easy, but later in my walk it would be more of an issue.


As the trail disappeared beneath the longer vegetation I was forced to bush bash from post to post. This was the beginning of my scratched legs woes, and my regret at not bringing full length gators.


The trail grew more prominent as I crossed into the tree line, with the usual orange triangles marking the route. At the top I easily descended 200m quickly before the trail got a little more precarious, but nothing too dangerous.


I came out atop a slip giving good views down. Then, near the base the trail lead through a rocky passage with a lone tree in the centre then popped out onto a rocky creek.


The creek was raging in places, and after a long day, I wanted to find the huts less than a kilometre away and rest. I skirted along the lower bank beside the creek, but couldn’t get past. So, trying to ensure my boots remained dry, I skirted back again looking for a place to cross. I found one, and jumped over, but I think my sunglasses came off my pack here, as I didn’t see them again. I walked along the other side, and found a place to cross.


Then it was up the bank and along a 4 x 4 track. I quickly saw the Dillon Homestead Hut and stopped to check it out. The homestead hut has been around since 1945 and has a lot of character in it. I could have stayed here and I’m not sure why I didn’t, but I chose to push on to the nearby Dillon hut, a far newer Department of Conservation hut. I wasn’t disappointed and as I had it to myself I got set up for my first night alone on this trek. And as it had been a warm day, I didn’t bother with a fire.


Day 8 – Dillon Hut to Mid Taipo Hut – 8.9km – 3 hours – Pink

Because yesterday was long day, and tomorrow will be too, I chose a more chilled walk today along the Taipo River. I’d planned to climb to the Dunn Creek Hut at the end of the day, but had read that it wasn’t in the best of shape and being rebuilt. Again my map didn’t have the alternative huts marked, so I was guessing by the end of the day. I headed out from Dillon Hut in an overcast sky.


As the river was wide and deep in places, I stayed on the left bank waiting for a three cable crossing I knew was further along.


To get to the crossing, I had to climb the side of a high rocky outcrop, then follow the path and a super steep descent where a ladder had been installed to help.


I crossed the bridge over a raging river, and on the other side, had a hard climb almost straight up the dirt bank that seemed endlessly.


It eventually flattened out before an easier descent down the side to pop out near the river, which had split in two.


I then followed vague trails along the river bank and grassy flats.


…before running into two guys who’d come from a hut further up the river. From a few minute chat, one suggested that if I was going up to Dunn Creek Hut to go up the creek instead of the trail further around as it was less steep. I’d originally planned to do that, but as I was no longer going to that hut tonight, I might have to be satisfied with the more difficult route up.


The river gully became quite tight with no way to walk along the side, so I was forced to push up the side of the bank on a forest trail. It was by no means a easy walk, and cemented in my mind that I wouldn’t be coming back to climb Dunn Creek.


I finally popped out at the Mid Taipo Hut having passed the less than obvious junction to tomorrow’s climb. There were bits of sun and it was warm. I decided to wash my sweaty clothes, so I stripped down tossed my clothes in a waterproof bag with some special organic cleaner and headed out to the river to do the washing. In my naked state, I kept an eye out should someone pop out of the wilderness, but no-one did. I took my washing back to the hut and hung it up outside, then went back to the river and bathed. The water was pretty icy, but I got it done and returned to the hut to chill out as it began to rain. I lit the fire to help dry the clothes and got on with my afternoon.


Next, Days 9 – 10 of my Southern Alps Crossing.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Southern Alps Crossing – New Zealand – Days 4 – 6

In late February 2023 I embarked on my longest walk in New Zealand, 13 days across the Southern Alps of the South Island. Go back to Days 1 – 3.

Day 4 – Hurunui No. 3 Hut to Locke Stream Hut – 15 km – 6 hours – Pink

Thankfully the sun came out today as it will be the hardest day so far, taking me over Harpers Pass at 967m. I headed out along thee grassy plains feeling pleased that the rain had passed for the time being, although that didn’t mean the grass wasn’t wet from dew.


The trail headed into the forest for a while, with laid out tree stumps covering the muddy patches. Good, but still slippery.


I soon came to the three wire bridge and crossed, pushing uphill a little in the woods.


Until once more coming out onto the flat via a rocky landscape before arriving at a small hut called Cameron’s Hut, which has only one workable bunk. I’d planned to stay here last night, but a walker the night before had persuaded me not to.


I marched on up the trail as it steadily began to climb, planning to stop at the Harper Pass Bivvy for lunch near the top.


I got to the bivvy an hour later, and stopped for lunch with two people there. And as they left, the three that had been following me since day 2 arrived. I ate my lunch in the sun with them, then letting them go first, I headed up the final climb to the top of the pass.


The trail down the other side was steep and rocky, and I’d been warned I’d be getting wet feet. I finally got a good view down onto the valley I’d be walking into and continued down the very steep trail, slipping a handful of times, but nothing serious.


I eventually came to another three wire bridge and crossed into a rocky riverbed where I rock hopped all the way down, scrambling up the bank in a couple of cases to get away from the water.


The rocky river continued, as I climbed one of the banks and walked in the woods for a bit, then back to rock hopping.


I came around the corner to spy people in the river. I climbed the bank to find the Lock Stream Hut where I’d be staying for the night. It was warm enough that there was no need for a fire, which was good as we couldn’t find any. With the only water that from the river, I topped up from there trying to avoid the sandflies that were eagerly waiting for me. I also did some washing in the river and laid it out to dry, then sat reading my book in the sun, or at least trying to, as again the sandflies swarmed us all, even covered in repellant.


Day 5 – Locke Stream Hut to Kiwi Hut – 8.4 km – 2.25 hours – Red

Again, my preplanning had stated a fairly long day today, but in revision, it turned out to be little more than 2 hours. But as my following day was a firm booking at a backpackers, I didn’t want to turn up a day early. I headed out from the hut and across some rugged landscape.


The trail lead me across the river, and I spent some time walking back and forth trying to find the best location to ensure I wouldn’t get my boots wet. I eventually found it and headed across into the grassy plains.


The trail rambled through the red rocks fairly common along this route, but staying on the true right of the river.


Most of it was along a grassy plain beside the river, with forest on the right.


I followed the trail on, seeing no-one else as I walked, the weather becoming better.


After a while I came to a sign to Kiwi Hut, pointing into the forest. I headed in, following the trail through to a large grassy paddock and up a bank. It was warm and before lunch when I arrived. I scouted for some wood and dragged it back to the wood shed, but felt there would be no need to start a fire, so didn’t bother cutting it up. A couple arrived and stopped for lunch. I brewed coffee and chatted with them before they left.


I then changed, cleaned the hut, checked the water and just chilled for a few hours until a large group of TA walkers arrived. More people would arrive during the day until all 7 beds were full and there were three tents out on the grassy patch.


Day 6 – Kiwi Hut to Rata Lodge Backpackers Otira – 21.45 km – 6 hours – Green

I headed out the next day looking forward to having a hot shower and staying in a real bed. Soon after heading out, I crossed the river which had split in two on the river plain. The first I found a way to rock hop across, but the second was not so easy. I finally had to remove my boots and wade over without them.


Then over the course of the next handful of hours, I walked along the grassy field slowly making my way towards where I guessed the road would be. I came to a large gorse forest and was forced along an old river bed to avoid it. This cut me through some forest, back to the river bed, through a small portion of gorse, before I finally exited down a bank to the grassy plains.


The plains widened and I followed a 4 x 4 trail across it. As I walked I began to hear the occasional vehicle in the distance. My hopes of keeping my boots dry, however, died quickly as the trail crossed many brooks with few other means to cross than to wade through or remove them. After the first couple I gave up and just let me boots get wet.


I trailed across the grassy plains, finally making it to the rivers, of which there were again two. By that stage, I’d all but given up trying to stay dry and just waded straight in. Then with soggy boots, I was up a bank and crossing a farm paddock toward the road.


I stopped briefly for lunch, but sandflies… So I picked up my pack and headed off along the road towards Otira and the backpackers. I thought it was only 6 or 7 km, but I have since learned it was closer to 11. I also decided to not thumb a lift, but should someone offer a ride I’d take them up on it. Several km along the road I came to the Morrison Foot Bridge spanning the river and railway tracks. TA walkers commonly camp on the other side of the bridge, or arrive here and hitch a lift to Otira or Arthur’s Pass Village. This is the last location I’d be encountering walkers from the Te Araroa. From here it was going to be much quieter.


I walked a further 3km, and next to the location where I’d be beginning my walk tomorrow, a car stopped and a pair of women picked me up. They’d been hiking in the mountains in the area too. They drove me the remaining 3km to the the backpackers where I checked in, had a hot shower, then headed along the road to the cafe for a hot meal. Unfortunately, as I was not staying at his establishment, the owner wouldn’t sell me a beer. I’d just have to wait another week until I arrived in Hokitika.


Next, Days 7 – 8 of my Southern Alps Crossing.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Southern Alps Crossing – New Zealand – Days 1 to 3

In Late Summer 2023, I set out on a mission to cross New Zealand’s Southern Alps over 13 days.

After a summer of fairly consistent rain in the North Island, and plentiful sun in the South Island, I flew to Christchurch, then caught an InterCity bus north to Hanmer Springs, a small mountain town near where I would begin my walk.

I split the 13 day walk into two parts with a stop in the middle at a village on highway 73. The first 6 days turned out to be easier and busy with walkers, while the second 6 was hard with very few walkers.

Day 1 – Windy Point to Hope Kiwi Lodge – 17km – 5 hours – Red

On a hazy morning in Hanmer Springs, I was driven the 45km to Windy Point, the trailhead of my walk. When I arrived, it began to rain, and I hovered in a nearby shelter. When ready to head out, I climbed the steps beside the gate, and walked along a road past some students from a Christian camp.


I skirted past the camp and up a slight hill to a wire bridge and crossed to the mound on the other side, where the trail met the Te Araroa Trail coming south from Boyle Village. I’d only met a handful of TA walkers on other routes to date, but that was about to change.


I followed the trail through a wood grove and over the mound as the rain came down heavier. It then stopped for a bit, so I took off my pack and jacket, but it wasn’t long before it began again.


The moderate rain quickly caused my feet to be soaked in my boots, I followed the trail along the upper portion of a flat area 100-150m above the river plain.


The sign at the trailhead had said the Hope Halfway Hut was 2 hours along, but cold and fed up with the rain, I passed the two hour mark with no sign of the Hut. Another hour along, and I finally saw it as I came over a rise. I hustled towards it and inside. It was a fairly nice small hut with no heating. I got out of my wet boots and jacket, and ate some lunch. A pair of fisherman stopped in for a few minutes, before heading off again.


The rain had not let up when I left and the trail headed down onto the river plain covered with yellow grass.


I came down near the river and crossed via another wire bridge.


In many places, the trail running through the grass was filled with water, so I walked along beside it.


Then I spied the hut at the edge of thick wood. Of course, the trail led me through the woods and when I eventually came out to the hut, I found five people already inside. Two had just chilled for the day in the hut to avoid the rain, while the other 3 had arrived earlier. Thankfully the fire was already lit so I could get out of my wet gear and get it drying. Another 9 people would arrive during the evening. While there was plenty of room, it was my first introduction to a busy hut because of TA walkers.


Day 2 – Hope Kiwi Lodge to Hurunui Hut – 16.1 km – 6 hours – Green

The next morning, while much of my clothes were dry, my boots weren’t entirely. It wouldn’t matter, as while the rain had toned down, it hadn’t stopped. I set out across the grassy fields which stretched into the distance, crossing a deep stream on the way.


After more than an hour, the trail crashed into the forest and began climbing towards the Kiwi Saddle. For the first somewhat major climb of the walk, it wasn’t intense, and thankfully, the forest blocked much of the rain.


If it wasn’t for a sign, I would have barely noticed the saddle deep in the forest. Near the saddle, another short trail climbed to a lookout where I got my first partial view of Lake Sumner.


The trail descended and I passed a half dozen people all solo walkers except one couple. The descent was gentle but again with no real view of the lake. I crossed Three Mile Stream on a wire bridge and on into the forest.


I finally came out close to the lake and walked along the trail with views for a brief time.


I crossed a grassy field to a gate, which gave me two options separated by a fence: across the field for several kilometres in the light rain, or dive into the forest for the same length to avoid it.


The uninhibited views across the lake were worth the momentary stop in the rain.


But I chose to head into the forest. I would come to regret this decision as the following 3 km pushed me through a hectic medley of downed trees, jagged roots and wet bushes on a thin trail that got me covered in water anyway.


Glad to be out of the trees, I again cross the fields towards a wire bridge then once across it, I turned back and took a photo.


Another 10 minutes or so along the trail I came to the Hurunui hut. When I arrived, no-one was there, so I set about changing and thought about lighting the fire when a trio from the Hope Kiwi Hut arrived. More and more TA walkers would arrive from the other way, including an annoying group who had been playing cards in the next hut for hours burning all the wood. Just when it was dark outside and most of us had climbed into out sleeping bags they arrived, making a bunch of noise cooking and eating.


Day 3 – Hurunui Hut to Hurunui No. 3 Hut – 9.91 km – 3 hours – Yellow

Checking my daily walking timeframes, I discovered my plans were wrong. Today, I had myself walking for at least 6 hours, but from talking to others it was only going to be two and a half to three. The rain had mostly stopped, but that didn’t mean that the grass was dry, so wet boots again. This was annoying as my boots were finally dry. I set out from the hut down onto the grasslands near the river.


Much of my day would be wandering alongside the river. Sometimes I just ignored the trail and followed the flat grassland anyway.


Only heading up the bank when the river got too close to this side, dropping down to the grasslands again when the river moved away.


I came to a sign that said 1.5 hours back to Hurunui Hut and 1.5 hours to Hurunui 3 hut. Weird, as I’d only been walking 45 minutes from Hurunui.


Everyone’s favourite spot on today’s section was the hot pool. Hot water flows down from the side of the mountain leaving a two tone algae on the rocks. It drops into a pool, which likely had been hollowed out for the purpose, then overflows 15 metres down to the river. I arrived just as another walker was leaving, so I stripped off and got in. It was a little dirty and a sign said not to submerge my head. Another tube had been set up to feed cold water into the pool should it get too heat, but I left that out.


I got ouot after 30 minutes, quickly dried and dressed to get away from the sandflies, and got on my way once more. The trio following me since Hope Kiwi Lodge said they’d spent more than 2 hours in the pool.


The trail stayed in the bush for a short time before emerging onto grassy plained until I eventually came out at Hurunui No 3 Hut. On arrival, I checked the wood, and wasn’t sure it would last. So I went hunting around for some. I wasn’t sure I’d find much due to the rain of the previous couple of days. But with an axe from the wood house, I located and cut a long dead branch. I dragged it back to the wood house and cut it into bits. But as I was dragging it, my leg got caught in some spiky plants and scratched it to hell. So, once I had the fire going, I bandaged my leg. Hurunui No 3 Hut has two sets of triple bunks and a pair of double bunks. Overall, a good hut again.


Next, Days 4 – 6 of my Southern Alps Crossing.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Tongariro Northern Circuit Great Walk! Days 3 and 4 – The Easy Aftermath

In mid February 2023, I found a gap in the rainy summer and headed to the central North Island of New Zealand to walk the four day Tongariro Northern Circuit. See Day 2 here.

Day 3 – Oturere Hut to Waihuhuno Hut – 3 hours 45 min – 8.1 km (Green trail)

While the hut was full overnight, I’m thankful for being in one of the quieter smaller rooms, especially when people started moving around in the morning. Day three is the shortest of the hike, with a stated 3.75 hours of walking before arriving at the next hut. With Day 4 also being a shorter day some people merge the two and walk out on Day 3. I’m taking the more chilled approach and walking two short days.

I headed out from the hut in the sun and back into the sandy hellscape of the final hour of yesterday’s walk. Clouds hung quietly around Ngauruhoe as I walked.


I soon headed down the descent of the day, a steady but short rocky downhill towards a babbling brook running down from the mountains. In the distance I could see the Australian family.


On an easy path, I quick marched up the next small climb, nothing too taxing.


For the next hour, the trail undulated up and down rocky and sandy short hills. I flew past the Aussie family who were, in their own words, just ambling today.


Heading ever towards a tree covered ridge line in the distance, I spied the Italian newlyweds ahead.


With the tree covered ridge to one side, I sped along a sandy ridge to eventually pass the Italians on the downward climb at the end.


Halfway down, the trail dove into the trees.


At the bottom, beside a large stream the mud puddles began. Nothing too seriously thankfully.


Then the steepest climb of the day, up to the top of the tree-covered ridge, passing a trail runner and two groups of hikers heading the other way. I came out of the woods at the top, climbed a small hillock off the trail and sat for 10 minutes in the sun. Then heading down the other side I got the first views of the tonight’s hut.


Compared to the previous two huts, this one was a veritable mansion with large bedrooms and a massive indoor and outdoor seating area. Inside the main windows gave great views of the Mt Ngauruhoe. In the afternoon, the rain came in spits and spurts. Up behind the hut, to one side of tomorrow’s path, in the tussock was what I described as the 4G zone, although spottier than previous huts. At one point there were a bunch of us in the tussock 4G zone, hunting the service in what became known as 4G yoga as we stretched this way and that with our phones.


Overall, the walking time was supposed to be 3 hours 45 minues, but I managed it in 2 hours 20 minutes including the 10 minute sit down at the stop of the last ridge.

Day 4 – Waihuhuno Hut to Whakapapa Village – 5 hours 45 minutes – 15.4km (Pink trail)

The hut was fine overnight, with the usual issues revolving around those who want to get away early waking everyone while trying to be quiet. With a day estimated at 5 hours and 45 minutes, I planned to leave at 8am so that I’d finish at 1:45 and then arrive at my accommodation at the 2pm check in time. But as today is fairly flat, I’ll likely finish early. I set out into the overcast day, headed past the 4G tussock patch and up some stairs. After ten minutes I came past the turnoff to the old Waihuhuno historic hut. I stopped to check it out.


I set out again across the tussock covered plains, ever so slightly undulating, the low cloud covering the top of Mt Ngauhuhoe. As this hike circumnavigates the volcanic cone, and because it was Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings, I think this hike should be renamed to The Mordor Circuit.


Today’s section has no large ascents or descents, but a very slow, almost unnoticeable, climb to the mid point, a dip down to one of the many streams on the trail, then a climb to the day’s highpoint.


At that highpoint, there is a T-junction, one way leading to the Tama Lakes, and the other continuing on to the the end of the trail. I stopped for a break at the junction, near the toilet that cannot be seen as it is camouflaged to look like the tussock plains. This is not the only toilet of its kind in the National Park, wherever tourists can walk, there are toilets, and as they walk out to the Tama Lakes, there’s one here.


There are two Tama Lakes, the Upper being 45 minutes walk from this junction and the Lower being only 10 minutes walk. I wasn’t keen to walk all the way too the Upper Tama Lake, so leaving my pack at the invisible toilet, I made my way to the Lower Tama Lake.


After a quick photo, I trotted back, had a snack, donned my pack and headed off again. From here on I would begin to cross paths with more and more day walkers. The trail began to undulate more but nothing overly difficult. And after an hour, I came to a rather busy location. I dropped my pack amidst many tourists, and climbed down some steep steps to view the Taranaki Falls.


I then climbed back to my pack, and stood at the top of the falls looking down.


A sign near the waterfall said 1 hour to the Whakapapa Village, twenty minutes longer than I had estimated, so I got my skates on. After 10 minutes, I saw the recently closed Tongariro Chateau in the distance, I kept my march on. I cut through some woods, and when I emerged, ten minutes before the end of the track, I stopped to take my final shot of Mt Doom.


When I reached the end of the trail, I walked past the chateau to the place where I had left my vehicle. It was 12:15, the time I’d estimated mid today’s walk, and even with the short side track to the Lower Tama Lake, I still came in an hour and a half early.


The Mordor Circuit, officially known as the Tongariro Northern Circuit, was a good walk although, to be honest, days 1, 3 and 4 just felt like alternative ways to get to and from the main attraction, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. In comparison, these three days put together don’t come close to the sheer exhilaration of the Alpine Crossing in effort, beauty, and reward. In saying that, I still enjoyed my four days on the trail.

The Lone Trail Wanderer.