Monday, February 24, 2014

Waiau Pass Track

  We've just come through the BEAUTIFUL Waiau pass track and St. James walkway.  This 113km section of the TA combines sections of 'easier'somewhat flat walking through deep valleys along rivers, with the steep climb over the nearly 1900 metre Waiau Pass.  The pass was certainly a highlight for us so far along the trail, and we had a beautiful, sunny day for hiking.  In the two days following the pass, we had rain and some insane storms.  The mountains around us were covered in snow and yesterday morning when we left Boyle Flat Hut, there was a frost covering the ground. As they say, New Zealand can get four seasons in one day, and we're seeing that first hand.
  We met a couple heading north on the trail and it was great to swap stories and compare trail notes with them. It sounds like we're in for more beautiful tramping ahead of us.  The South Island continues to amaze us with its beautiful scenery.  From here we head towards Arthurs Pass, our next resupply point which is just about 110km away.
  Another brief update as computer time is limited, but enjoy these photos from the past few days.
Happy trails!
-Jetpack and Brazil Nut

Upper Travers Hut, below the Travers Saddle

Brazil Nut, Travers Saddle

Jetpack, near Travers Saddle

Near Lake Constance

Headed up to Waiau Pass

Waiau Pass

Lake Constance, from Waiau Pass

We passed many of these signs along the Waiau Pass track, happily it's not  avalanche season

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Nelson Lakes

Just a quick post to say we're in Nelson Lakes and have made it through the Richmond range.  We are LOVING the South Island, it's absolutely stunning.  The Richmond ranges were the most difficult part of the trail yet, but certainly the most beautiful.  The weather couldn't have been better, and we had countless days with beautiful views as far as we could see.  This is my favorite kind of hiking-above treeline, on high peaks, with outstanding views.  For me, it doesn't get much better than that.
 We've finally caught up with some other hikers.  We went most of the North Island without meeting many thru hikers, so its been fun to meet people whose names we've been seeing ahead of us for a while.
  We leave town today and head south to the Waiau Pass Track which connects the Travers Sabine circuit with the Saint James Walkway.  From what we've heard, we have more beautiful tramping ahead!

Brazil Nut ascending Mount Rintoul

Richmond Ranges

The Red Hills, south Richmond Forest Park

View from the Queen Charlotte track last week

Happy trails!
-Jetpack and Brazil Nut

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Half way

We are in Wellington, the unofficial halfway point. Unofficial, because we are in fact over half way, but we've reached the end of the north island.  It was a long last few days with lots of road walking and a very steep, surprisingly difficult last 15 km through Wellington.  Our plan was to be on the 9am ferry this morning, but after a mix up with the post office, our box with shoes, maps, stove, etc didn't arrive, and today is a holiday in NZ, so we're in Wellington for another day and hoping our package will be here tomorrow morning.
Yesterday we completed the North Island!

TA plaque at the North Island terminus

  When I last posted, we were just heading out for 5 days along the Whanganui river.  The trail is officially marked along the river and there are different options from 1 to 7 days along the river by canoe or kayak.  We chose to canoe about 170km, and we had a fantastic time.  The river was faster and stronger than I'd thought, and quickly discovered it was much more difficult than I'd thought to canoe down rapids.  We never tipped over, but there were several close encounters with rocks, sticks and trees.
  Part of The Whanganui river is considered one of NZ's 'Great Walks' so for the first two days we saw lots of people.  The last few days however, were much quieter and we had the river pretty much to ourselves. The river is beautiful and rich in history.  It winds its way through the remote landscape, emptying into the Tasman sea in the city of Wanganui.  It was significant to Maori and early settlers as a main transport route, but now much of the area is completely uninhabited as the landscape is too steep and rugged to be farmed.

Paddling down the Wanganui

A bend in the river

Taking a break from paddling
   After 5 days in the canoe our legs were well rested and ready for several long days of road walking.  We knew the Tararua mountain range lay ahead but we didn't know how difficult they were. As we were finishing our road walk, just about to head to the trail head and into the Tararua range, a car came flying around the corner, and before it had come to a full stop a woman got out- "Are you girls doing the trail?!" We said yes, and she said she'd seen us walking by and was in a meeting so she couldn't leave, but did we want a place to stay for the night, a hot shower, laundry and some wine? Well, did we! We got into the car and went back to her house, where we received the best trail magic of the TA.  Sally and her husband John live at and own the Makahika Outdoor Pursuits Center which the trail passes by and they often take in hikers for the night-or two or three.  We enjoyed a delicious home cooked meal, lots of wine and great conversation with them that evening and the next morning before heading back to the trail.  It was a wonderful surprise and very hard to leave when we finally did.

Thank you Sally for the best trail magic!
We spent the next two days tramping through the beautiful and steep Tararua range. The range is know for its incredibly high winds and very few days of sunshine each year, and we couldn't have asked for better weather while we were passing through.  It was steep, difficult, and tiring, just the way hiking should be.  The views were spectacular, and the range has an amazing hut system which was a great way to end each day. These pictures are from the Tararua range:

At a hut with Julia who is hiking the TA in sections

Swing bridge over Otaki River, exiting the Tararuas

View to the South Island from beach campsite north of Wellington
  We are both very excited for the South Island. Everyone we talk to says just wait 'til you get to the South Island.  Hopefully our box arrives tomorrow morning and we will be on our way to Picton in the afternoon!
Happy hiking!
-Jetpack and Brazil Nut