Day 109: Wanaka to Fern Burn Hut

Distance travelled today: 24 km
Total TA distance covered: 2619 km

Like a broken record.

I had a great nights sleep in a hostel if you can believe that. I ended up in a mixed sex 3 bed room, sharing it with a couple of young ladies. They were great. Really quiet in coming into the room at night and not shifting through lots of gear. I swear that in most hostels there is a constant game being played out of who has the loudest, crinkliest plastic bag and who can make the most noise for the longest, while people are trying to sleep. It’s the same in the DOC huts sometimes. And sharing with two girls – no snoring.

After a big breakfast of fresh fruit, yoghurt and a danish I left the hostel in search of caffeine. I found Carl in the bakery and while ordering coffee we had a quick catch up. He needed to resupply but we were both aiming for Fern Burn Hut, around 24 km away today.

I think my daily blow by blow accounts are starting to sound like a broken record, with the same tune repeatedly playing. Leaving town it was a nice easy walk right through to lunch time for the first 15 km along the edge of Lake Wanaka. A mixed bike/walking track runs the length from town to Glendhu Bay. It was nicely levelled and gravelled the whole way, mostly flat with the odd short climb up and over head lands. Lots of people were out for their morning run, jog or ride. Throughout the morning lots of bikes kept coming past. The wind was still up. I wonder when it will dissipate. There has been constant howling in my ears for days now.

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By and by Glendhu Bay caravan park came into view and I knew it was only a few more kilometres for the morning. Getting to Glendhu Bay I stopped for a bite of lunch. Fresh out of town I had some nice cheese and a couple of types of salami which went down well. I usually try to carry some treats from town, typically some fresh fruit or a block or cheese. Leaving Wanaka I was nicely loaded up with a big tub of Vegemite as well, thanks to my work mates. The worlds most expensive vegemite given the postage. This will be perfect with cheese on wraps over the coming days. I estimate 4 days to get to Queenstown.

It was great having reception in town yesterday as well. Queenstown can be an absolute zoo with accommodation. With a few phone calls from Wanaka I was able to secure a room for a couple of nights in Q Town and arrange my final logistical hurdle for Te Araroa, getting across Lake Wakatipu to the start of the Greenstone Track. Like the Cook Strait, the lake is considered a natural break in the trail.

So after a nice long lunch break I had a few quick road miles to get in to the start of the trail up towards Fern Burn Hut following to Motatapu Track. The trail followed the Fern Burn (river), initially through farmland and then into a remanent patch of beech forest. Entering the trees the track was perfect. The beech tall and majestic with nothing in the way of ground cover other than the orange leaves of the beech. There were a few steepish pinches as the trail negotiated up and around several small gorges and waterfalls. It was such a treat to walk through this old patch of trees.

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Exiting from the trees, it was back into tussock country however there was a track the whole way and it was actually benched out of the hill side. Straight from the trees it was a little muddy as a trickle of water had found its way onto the track and made a permanent home on its way down hill. This didnt last and soon moved up into rockier ground.

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On the map the trail looked easy enough for the final two kilometres to the hut but it took a bit longer than I expected. There were a stack of small gullies to cross enroute but rather than the trail sticking to the contour it actually descended downhill to each only to climb right back up again. It was a welcome relief to come onto the final spur and see the hut down below, just one more straight down and up gully.

I shared the night with 8 others in the hut, all out forva weekend jaunt and staying justvone night. The hutvis super close to town, especially if you have a car to get to the start of the track. An older couple with two students they were hosting shared some of their wine and we all shared various stories of tramping feats from across the globe.

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