Distance travelled today: 22 km
Total TA distance covered: 2658 km
Bye bye summer.
A chilly wind saw the day in. Gone are the hot northerlies, now the wind blows in from the south with a taste of autumn in the air. The last day of summer today. For months now I’ve worn nothing but shorts and t-shirt and perhaps an extra layer at night. This morning long pants, jacket, gloves and beanie were need to keep the chill off as I make yet another ascent up yet another long spur to Roses Saddle. It took just under an hour to reach the saddle from the valley floor. Looking back I could see the hut far below and crisp air views back down the Motatapu Valley.
I was continuing on the Motatapu Track today down towards Macetown today and beyond to Arrowtown. From Rose’ Saddle the descent down to the Arrow River was nice. A well defined track to follow and fast along the ridge.
On reaching the river I had a choice. The trail notes say that it is faster to walk in the river bed itself to Macetown or to follow the high route if the river is flooded. The river was running low and clear but it was way to cold to be charging through a river for four kilometres. As it was I still had multiple top layers on and gloves to keep my hands warm. I judged that walking through cold water for a few hours was bound to have my feet numb. I opted for the high route but found it to be a really shitty track. If I haven’t walked enough sidle tracks that are poorly construction and hell on the ankles, I now had one more to get through. It was horrible and painful on my feet. At one point I thought the river might just well be a better option but I was now up high above the river and there was no route back down. With no choice I continued to stumble my way along the high route, pulling out the gopro and having a rant. Someone has been through to mark and construct a track. I just wish a little bit extra went into actually benching a track out properly. Do it once and do it right I reckon. My feet can’t take too much more of this but the end is so close and I need to finish. I pushed, telling myself only a few more weeks. From what I’m told the worst is out the way and I can look forward to easier walking from Arrowtown.
Reaching Macetown was a relief. It wasn’t quite noon and I pressed on for a while longer before lunch. Straight into Macetown I had to ford the Arrow River and as suspected the water was freezing. Soothing for a few minutes on my ankles but very cold. Picking up a 4wd track I picked my way through the now abandoned, historic gold mining settlement. Quite a few relics were still scattered about the place, including lots of hand stacked walls and the remnants of buildings. A few restoration projects are underway as well. I passed the old bake house and had a good look around. The 4wd track continued through the settlement with quite a few river crossings. Towards the end of town my feet were numb from the cold water. I scouted for a sunny spot for lunch as I made my way up Big Hill.
Enroute I saw a falcon sweep down and land a tree right next to me, checking me out. I was able to get fairly close and take a couple of quick pics. It soon flew off. These are the magic moments for which I walk. Walking solo there are also so many encounters like this that you do not get with a group walking and chatting. As I watched it take to sky it started to screech. Soon a couple of others joined in the chorus and I watched them fight or play in the air, I’m not sure what they were up to but it made for a great sight.
Part way up Big Hill I stopped to dry my feet and have a feed for the final ascent of the day. The path up the the Big Hill Saddle was another shocker. Back into the tussock country. I was mighty pleased to reach the top and get a glimpse of a well benched track heading down towards Arrowtown. It had me stumped. This is all part of the same Motatapu Track but the huge inconsistency in trail construction was annoying.
From the Big Hill Saddle the track was awesome. I wouldn’t be surprised if they helibike off the saddle to town as it was of super quality. It made for fast walking and I motored along. Rounding a corner I caught the first views of Arrowtown below.
The trail continued to descend, picking its way around various spur lines and always on the contour. The odd gully crossing was thick and overgrown but it didn’t matter, they were short and you could see the good trail pick up on the other side. Winding its way down hill, the trail traversed through some remnant patches of beech. They were really nice and the trail perfect.
Eventually the trail came down to Bush Creek just outside Arrowtown, following the creek and a water pipe for a whiles before coming into town. Arrowtown is pretty. A nice old town with many historic buildings and a neat street scape. Unfortunately way too many tourists for my liking. All neatly dressed with bum bags and cameras strung around their necks, I copped the odd look as I wandered down the main street seeking out a coffee.
I’m at the holiday park tonight. Checking in I stumbled into Maurice a Swiss guy that was sharing the hut last night. This is his last day on Te Araroa having walked for 40 days from Arthurs Pass. There was only one thing to do, find a cold beer or two and see him off in style. We’re on the hunt for some nice food and drinks.