32. Perry Saddle – Mackay (Heaphy Track 2/4)

Tuesday, March 14: Rain overnight, clearing to cloudy and reasonably warm, light showers in mid afternoon

Tramping: 21.3 km

James Mackay Hut (Doc, $32)

The two brothers I was sharing with turned out to be excellent snorers but I managed to get some sleep at some point though it wasn’t very much. They did stop every now & then so that helped a little.

A couple of kea tried waking us around dawn and someone’s alarm went off @ 6:00; about then I shut the dormitory door as people were starting to use the kitchen. I snoozed a little while and eventually decided it was time to get up. Breakfast was – new – four pieces of Ryvita, the cheese (100 g), butter for the rye slices, coffee was two spoons of Nescafe, one of sugar, what remained of the cream, and one egg with salt. (By the afternoon the egg carton had disintegrated completely and a number of eggs were cracked & losing their shells. Perhaps next time smaller eggs.) Everything packed up neatly and I was ready to go soon after 8:30. Read more…

31. Brown River – Perry Saddle (Heaphy Track 1/4)

Monday, March 13: Heavy rain overnight, changeable during the day, some more rain in the evening

Tramping: 16.1 km

Perry Saddle Hut (Doc, $32)

Woke up around 5:30 and discovered that I hadn’t turned on the alarm, so I did so and it did go off on time, although it was not entirely necessary. Breakfast was a couple of wheatbix, a bit of allbran, some yoghurt and what was left of some milk with one of the packaged coffees.

Threw everything else into the suitcase and dragged it into the hall. All the food fit on top of the backpack and a plastic bag full of clothes was used to pad the pack. Put some muesli bars into the top compartment for a second lunch and was ready to go just after 7:00. Read more…

20. Upper Spey – West Arm (Dusky Track 8/8) – Manapouri – Te Anau

Thursday, March 2: Overcast to begin with, a little variable, changing to sunny in Te Anau

Tramping: 13.5 km

Steamer’s Backpackers

My decision had been a long time in the making as well, but probably not as excruciating as the waking in anticipation of leaving that had people fiddling about from 4:00 onwards. Eventually Dave made a call of, “Time to get up,” at 6:00 and up everyone was except for me. That meant that the first to leave were out just after 7:00, the last around 7:30, and me as the rear guard @ 8:00.

I had decided to join my new group on the ferry back today, and not spend the night on the track as previously planned. The weather was not great for one, and while I could get little done in what was left of the afternoon, I could at least have a shower and eat something halfway decent, in order to get some serious work done on Friday and Saturday.

The plan was to reach the first pair of walkwires at around 9:00; have an hydration break @ 10:00; reach the last set around 11:00, and by that time I would know whether I would get the 13:45 boat or not. Read more…

19. Kintail – Upper Spey (Dusky Track 7/8)

Wednesday, March 1: Cloud cover in the morning, fog in the mountains, becoming sunnier in the afternoon, a bit cooler

Tramping: 7.1 km

Upper Spey Hut (Doc)

“Seven o’clock, people,” was the waking call for the second last day of tramping, and the bottom bunk and the couple on the top one were soon up and about, and I spent a little more time in bed until I was sure that Matt & Christoph were also awake, and then I joined the others. Breakfast this morning was cheese instead of salami, and two eggs were there for the taking. When packing everything, Gort couldn’t find his rubbish, but after everyone had left, except for the last three of us, there was a rubbish bag with an empty deet container and some dental floss in it, so I picked it up on my way out to return to him. Read more…

18. Loch Maree – Kintail (Dusky Track 6/8)

Tuesday, February 28: Cold again in the early morning but otherwise a fine and sunny day

Tramping: 11.5 km

Kintail Hut (Doc)

Kea were playing on the roof for their breakfast @ 6:00, but otherwise the night was surprisingly peaceful considering the age distribution. Only one person snored, and then not too loudly.

I let the others get onto the track before me, and then was able to pack up everything, send off a spot OK, get a sat fix, sweep out the hut and get on my own way. Pretty muddy today, and a lot of ups and downs all over the place. I could see that one “gut” had been completely avoided by a new track, but still, even if the mud was fairly firm in places, in others it was soft and unavoidable. Read more…

17. Supper Cove – Loch Maree (Dusky Track 5/8)

Monday, February 27: Cold to begin with, very sunny, a couple of high clouds collecting in the evening

Tramping: 14.1 km

Loch Maree Hut (Doc)

Rather cool this morning, as I had left the door open in the middle of the night. For breakfast I started on the second packet of biscuits which I preferred over the rather bland sesame ones. Had to start rationing the muesli bars for lunch and was considering when I might have two eggs for breakfast. The sun rose in one far corner of the Dusky Sound, quite unphotographable, but anyhow.

Some of the gear was still wet, but at least clean and as I was tightening up my boots, one of the base eyelets snapped – I thought at first it was the shoelace, if it had been, then at least it would have been repairable. Relaced the boot to cover the gap, but noticed that the other eyelets are not looking healthy either. So much for Jack Wolfskin. Then off I set. Read more…

16. Loch Maree – Supper Cove (Dusky Track 4/8)

Sunday, February 26: Sunny throughout

Tramping 15.0 km

Supper Cove Hut (Doc)

Keas were heard playing on the roof & calling at night and in the dawn. There was also a bit of snoring during the night, and I don’t know how much sleep I got. In any case everyone was up and about around 7:30, which also had to mean me. My stuff was not particularly dry, and I had had no time to wash anything yesterday, so after my breakfast, and being reassured that everyone was going to make it, I pushed off on my own at 9:30. Read more…

15. Lake Roe – Loch Maree (Dusky Track 3/8)

Saturday, February 25: Rain overnight & in the morning, easing to drizzle by midday and becoming fine but cloudy in the evening

Tramping: 8.8 km

Loch Maree Hut (Doc)

In the absence of anyone else to disturb me I slept through until 8:30, packed my stuff together and waited to see how the day would progress. As it was a bit cold I decided that a fire would be in order, so I lit the pile of rubbish that had collected in the potbelly stove, emptied the ash drawer and in a short while the stove was fairly clear so I put a pan of water on it to have some warm water for washing if I was able to convince myself to stay.

Around midday an unexpected group turned up – two couples and one other guy, who were soaked to the skin and needed the rest of the day to dry off. I had collected some firewood (mainly kindling) and had put some wet firewood by the fire for drying. Had lunch of three muesli bars & half of the rest of the sultanas. The rain seemed to stop so I took this as a message to get on the track. One of the guys had found Jack’s Raybans so he gave them on to me & I moved off at 1:00. Read more…

14. Halfway – Lake Roe (Dusky Track 2/8)

Friday, February 24: Sunny the whole day

Tramping: 7.8 km

Lake Roe Hut (Doc)

We were up around 7:00. There had only been one snorer, Nico, and his snoring wasn’t particularly bad. I had gotten up once, and tried putting on the anaesthetic because I had been bitten to bits changing sox yesterday, and that set off one cramp in the calf and another in the thigh. However, with the ointment applied, the bites were much less itchy.

The Dutch couple were surprisingly quick off the mark, as was Murray, who may have been first. Then Jack and Nico were off with a promise to wait for me at the next hut. Read more…

13. Hauroko Burn – Halfway Hut (Dusky Track 1/8)

Thursday, February 23: Sunny throughout with some morning fog and high clouds in the afternoon

Tramping: 11.9 km

Halfway Hut (Doc)

The compass-alarm went off on the dot of 6:00 and I was up to finish the orange juice and two eggs which were a little too hard boiled, but the shells separated nicely. Everything fitted into the backpack, except for the (large) gas can and the burner which were packed into the sport shoe bag and strapped on the outside of the pack, and the tripod and ratsack are being carried in a separate bag sashed to me.

The computer & pjs were put into the satellite pack and deposited in locker #19.

With everything ready to go and the room key delivered back to the key drop I was waiting at the front of the motorcamp at 7:15 and could spend a spot OK while doing so. Shuttle turned up a little after half past, and in addition to Jack & Nico, two Dutch hikers were coming along as well, Sjos & Bo. We also had to pick up another person in Manapouri, Murray, a Kiwi from Taranaki. Now we were set to go to Clifden. Here we were joined by a young Canadian couple, Quinn & Matt, who had just completed the Te Araroa and were looking for another challenge. Read more…