Wild trails in New Zealand- summary and conclusions 2

5. Lewis Pass- Arthurs Pass

11 Tage, 154 Kilometer

A beautiful and rewarding route! Coming and going to the ridges is always tough, but it is so rewarding to walk for long on top of the world!

I hitchhike back to Lewis pass and take a path across the forest to the treeline of the Lewis Tops, which ridge I follow trackless for the rest of the day. After spending the night at Brass Monkey Bivy I traverse the slopes and finally descend towards Lake Christabel. I ascend to a ridge where I camp and next day I climb difficult Mount Boscawen. The first part of the descent is suicidal but I stay in the alpine, traversing to Devil's Rampart. A very steep descent leads me to Devils Den bivy, where I meet a trail again. Next day I descend to Doubtful River and climb to Lake Man. On the way to the Hope River, I first follow a path and then a rocky creekbed. Then I walk up the Hope and ascend across thick brush to the Ridge of the Nelson Tops, which I follow trackless for a long time. Finally I leave the ridge and descent very steeply in the forest to the Hurunui River, where I meet the TeAraroa again. Next day I follow that river to Harper's Pass where I meet Pim, a young dutch guy, who wants to join me. We descend into the Taramakau valley, and reach Kiwi hut, when it starts to rain, which continues until next noon. The rivers have risen significantly, but we manage to negotiate the Taramakau and then follow the Otehake. Next day brings very slow and difficult walking in the gorge of that River. Finally we ascend to Taruahuna Pass, where we leave the trail and find a beautiful ridge route to Mavis Lake, from where we descend steeply to the Mingha, where we meet the TA again, which we follow to the road below Arthurs Pass.

                                                 Lewis Tops

                                                                      Brass Monkey Bivy

                                                              View from Mount Boscawen

                                                        Traverse to Devil's Rampart

                                                                     Devil's Den with my descent route

                                                                           Doubtful River

                                                                                   Lake Man

                                                                 Hope River Valley

                                                           Nelson Tops

                                                        Evening at the Hurunui

                                       View from Harper's Pass into the Taramakau

                                                               Kiwi Hut

                                      Difficult crossings of Taramakau and Otehake

                                  Difficult Otehake Gorge

                                                                    Towards Lake Mavis

                                                                                 Lake Mavis

                                                           Upper Mingha Valley

6. Arthurs Pass ( Taipo) - Hokitika

11 days, 117 kilometers

Originally I had planned two weeks to go to Mount Cook on that stage, but it turned out that I was far too slow, because of bad weather and very difficult terrain. Therefore I retreated to Hokitika on the West Coast...
I didn't like this stage too much! More thick bush than real forest, bad weather and overall too difficult to enjoy, although quite adventurous...

From Arthurs Pass I hitchhike to Greymouth on the West Coast for resupply. Next day I wave my thumb again, but don't go all the way back to the Pass. Instead I start hiking again at the Taipo River, which I follow partly in the streambed, partly on trail. Next day I take a very steep trail which I loose at some point so I have to walk cross country across the very dense West Coast forest. Finally I get on the trail again, and reach Dunn's Creek Hut. The ascent up Dunn's Creek to Newton Saddle is more canyoning than hiking. Unfortunately the descent into Newton Creek is as bad. On this day I need 14 hours for 10 kilometers!
Next day I follow an old gold digger trail, which is quite good, above the Arahura River, cross the flat, grassy Styx Saddle and camp on the Styx. Next day a very steep trail ascends to the Browning Range Bivy and then Lathrop Saddle. The drop into the Crawford Valley is steep as well, with high Tussock Grass. I follow the Crawford on a trail and then ascend the Kokatahi mostly in the river bed. Very difficult!
In very heavy rain I cross Zit Saddle and descent to the Adventure Ridge Bivy. Again a very difficult day, and I am very happy when I finally reach the tiny, dry shelter!
Next day I descend on the ridge to the Toaroha, which is not too difficult and then follow that river on a quite good trail. I cross the Toaroha Saddle and descend to the Mungo. A very steep, difficult climb leads to Bluff Hut, where I meet the first people since the first day on this stage!
I follow the upper Hokitika River in a surprisingly flat valley and climb to Frew Saddle. The descent into that stream is once again slow and difficult. Most of the time, the streambed is the trail. 
In rain I reach the large and nice Frew hut on the Whitcombe River. Next day I try to hike down that river, but a swollen side creek forces me to retreat, what I just barely manage...
Next day the water level has fallen and I reach the Hokitika Gorge, from where I hitchhike to the coastal town of the same name. 

                                                             Taipo River

                                                            Trackless across the bush

                                                                  Dunn's Creek- the River is the trail...

                                                                               Newton Saddle

                                                                                      Styx Saddle

                                              "Trail" on the way to Browning Range Bivy

                                                             Towards Lathrop Saddle

                                                                      "Trail" on the Kokatahi

                                                         Adventure Ridge Bivy

                                                                           Top Toaroha Hut

                                                                              Bluff Hut

                                                               Frew Creek Valley

                                                                     Whitcombe River

                        Sidecreek- At this level o.k. yesterday suicidal

                                  Balancing over huge boulders on the Whitcombe



7. Lake Tekapo- Hokitika

                                                     Lake Tekapo- Hokitika

11 days, 187 km

A crossing of the Southern Alps from the grasslands on the eastern side, along the gravel plains of glacial rivers, over Butler Saddle and Whitcombe Pass again to the Tasman Sea at Hokitika. 

From Hokitika I travel to Christchurch where I buy new shoes. Then I take a bus to Lake Tekapo, where I start hiking again, in the dry grasslands of the eastern side of the Southern Alps. I enjoy unrestricted views and movement very much. To the Rangitata I hike again on the TeAraroa, where at Stag Saddle I cross the highest point of this Long Distance Trail. To cross the many channels of the Rangitata, a mighty glacial river, I need my packraft for the first and only time. For a long time there is easy gravel hiking in the vast river beds of Rangitata, Clyde and Lawrence Rivers. Finally I leave the Lawrence to climb up to Butler Saddle. Near to this, I have a fantastic eaglesnest birthday camp. Then I descend steeply and rather difficult to the Rakaia, where I destroy my boat. Luckily via a swingbridge and wading Lake Ramsay I get to the other side. Then I hike up Lauper Stream to Whitcombe Pass. When I reach the already known river on the other side, I am on trails again, and continue this time without problems to Hokitika.

                                                    Lake Tekapo

                                     Sunrise at Lake Tekapo

                                    Vast grassy ridge on the way to Stag Saddle

                                                      Camp below Stag Saddle

                                                                     Grasslands at Bush Stream

                                                       The Rangitata has many Channels

                                                       Clyde River Valley

                                                                    Lawrence River

                                                   The final ascent to Butler Saddle

                                                       View to Rakaia River and Ramsay Lake

                                                                Steep descent into  Rakaia Valley

                                                       Swingbridge on the Rakaia

                                                                    Ramsay Lake

                             View back to Butler Saddle and my descent route

                                                               Lauper Stream

                                                            Upper Whitcombe River

                                                                 Whitcombe River

                                                                    Landslide on Whitcombe

                                                                                      Frew Hut

                                                                     Root Climbing

8. Kahurangi 3

                                                          Kahurangi 3

12 days, 203 kilometers

This is the best and most spectacular of my 3 Kahurangi hikes!

As I don't want to continue further south, I hitchhike back to Kahurangi, because there are still a lot of areas I want to see!
I take a trail to Sunrise Peak and then follow the ridge trackless across rugged carst terrain to Mount Owen, the highest mountain of Kahurangi, which I climb. Near Granity Pass Hut I follow a good trail again, down to Courthouse flat. After I already know the Wangapeka Track from the western side, this time I hike it from the east, following the Wangapeka River, ascending to the Wangapeka Saddle, where I already had been, walk into the alpine over Bigg's Tops, and then descent steeply to the Karamea River, which I follow to the Leslie. I leave that river soon, and cross Baton Saddle. Back in the forest I follow Baton Creek downwards, immediately followed by an ascent of Ellis Creek. After passing Ellis Hut I climb to the ridge of Mount Arthur, and get to the summit of this limestone peak. There I leave the trail, and descent steeply, before I pick up the trail again, which leads me to Gordon Pyramid. After reaching the forest, I camp near Sphinx Cave. Next day I use well worn trails on the Mount Arthur Tablelands. An extraordinary landscape in steep New Zealand!
Finally I descent to Cobb Reservoir and follow that broad, grassy valley to Cobb Hut, where I leave my pack for a day hike to Round Lake and Mt. Gibb. Next day I hike from near Fenella Hut to a long ridge, pass Mt. Kakapo and finally descend to Lonely Lake below the Drunken Sailor. This is the far side of the Dragon's teeth, where I had to retreat on my first Kahurangi hike. Next day I follow the ridge beyond Drunken Sailor  and finally descent trackless into the forest to the Anatoki River, which I follow to near Takaka. 

                                         Limestone landscape at Mount Owen

                                           Camp below Mount Owen

                                                               Blue River Valley


                                                                                Bigg's Tops

                                                                  Karamea at low water

                                                                        View from Baton Saddle

                                                Ellis Creek

                                                                   Below Mount Arthur

                                                                         On Mount Arthur

                                                           Sphinx Cave

                                                              Mt. Arthur Tablelands

                                                                      Cobb River Valley

                                                                 Island Lake

                                                                Long ridgewalk to Lonely Lake

                                      Drunken Sailor and the ridge I follow next day

                                                               Above the Anatoki

9. Queen Charlotte Track

                                             Queen Charlotte Track

3 days, 74 kilometers

As I have some days left before my flight back home, I decide to hike the Queen Charlotte Track, a Great Walk on a peninsula in the Marlborough Sounds. The start of the trail, Ship Cove, is the place where the explorer James Cook reached New Zealand, which was the start of the british conquest of the islands. Ship Cove is reached by boat. As usual for a Great Walk, the trail is easy and quick, but has a lot of altitude change. It touches bays with turquise waters and stays for long on a ridge with many views. The forest feels subtropical, but in many places there is only bushland or introduced pines. As part of the trail is closed for fire danger, there are not too many visitors. But overall, this is the walk in New Zealand, which has the most impact of modern civilisation, therefore I like it less than all my other hikes in New Zealand.

                                                      Boat to Ship Cove

                                           Subtropical forest

                                                          Sunset at Schoolhouse Bay

                                                                   Eatwell's Lookout

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