Shaler Range from Park Morpeth Hut

A spontaneous change of plans and the accidental choice of a classic tramping route near Arthurs Pass (December 2018).

A long day of hitching and I have made it to the Wanganui River on the West Coast by dusk. I’ve endured loud singing, silence, repeatedly being asked if someone knows where I am going, unending complaints about the Department of Conservation (DOC), tourists and other drivers, and finally some decent german chat to get here. Luckily, the worst part of the drive was over Haast Pass which is currently festooned with Peraxilla spp. (Red Mistletoe) in full flower.

Now, Tobias, who gave me a lift from Franz Josef, is asleep in his van, and I am in my tent. I cannot sleep. My chosen route over Bryan Hill (617m)looks highly unappealing and I really do not know if I want to go this way any more. The alternative option up Tarpot Creek looks equally terrible and I am not even sure where it starts. I doze off but wake to the sound of a 4WD revving loudly. It must be about midnight. They drive past and I have a bad feeling; whoever it is couldn’t possibly be up to something good at this time of night.

Sure enough about 10 minutes later I hear the 4WD revving and I peer under my tent fly. It pulls up with the headlights pointing straight at us, about 15 meters away, the motor still running. I cannot see anything in the bright light, but I hear a car door open. My heart is pounding. I am terrified of hearing footsteps approaching my tent. I hear a car door shut or open, then suddenly I hear a loud gunshot, a second following just a moment later. I flatten myself against the ground, for the first time in my life I am genuinely concerned that someone may murder me.

But the truck reverses out and drives down the road, painfully slowly. It parks up for a minute, then the sound of the engine fades away. I get up and look around. It is a beautiful night, the moon is out and it is so light I don’t even need a torch. I breathe in the fresh air, get back in my tent and finally get some sleep.

Bryan Hill (centre left)

I wake up, unwillingly swallow my porridge and pack up. I head off, walking up the stream to the base of Bryan Hill, an easy boulder hop. I scramble up the steep bank to get into the forest. It is wet and slippery and there are some bluffs further up surrounded by steep supplejack (Ripogonum scandens) thickets. I come across what looks like a man made terrace. I see the nail in the tree first, then some old wooden planks, then an old pipeline. I search for a marker and follow the pipeline to its end. I look up at the route. Nope.

I am already struggling with the weight of my pack so I decide to head back to the road. Uncharacteristically I decide to follow the pipeline terrace to the 4WD track rather than the way I came despite it having been very easy. It is fine until I reach a clearing with gorse and for a moment I think I have made a huge error, but after a short section of deep ferns I pop out onto the road and rush back to the campsite hoping Tobias is still there and I can hitch a ride to Kumara Junction.

He is not there so I head to the road and start hitching. I decide to head to Arthurs Pass and walk up to Carroll Hut on the Kelly Range, then make a plan once I get there. It takes a while for the first ride and the sandflies get a treat in the meantime, but finally, I am on the road again. Mac, the gorgeous soft friendly black lab on the back of the ute gets some pats and gives me some licks as I am trying to heave my pack onto the back. My first ride informs me some of his mates went up Tarpot Creek and that it was gnarly. I am a bit disappointed in myself for giving up, but also relieved. At Kumara Junction I get picked up by a road inspector who has been living in Arthurs Pass for 20 years. He is very nice and even drives me up the road to Otira so I can text Jamie that I have changed my plans, then drops me at the start of the track.

I arrive at the start of the track at 11:00 and stop off at the toilet. It has some interesting interior art, probably considered rather offensive by some people, particularly anyone called Billy. The walk up to the hut is slow, steep and hot, and deteriorates once the forest peters out. It takes me a long time to get to the hut, I estimate four hours although DoC says three hours. I’m sure my pack must weight about 20 kg. As I step over the grating something large moves in the corner of my eye. At first I think it is a huge rat, but after watching a little longer I catch a glimpse of a beak; a weka. Later Max the German arrives, with copious quantities of alcohol for Christmas eve. It is a quiet evening though, and I finally make a plan, although I do not feel that motivated to do a big trip anymore and have decided to be out for New Years Day.

The original Carroll Hut was opened by the West Coast Alpine Club but destroyed by fire in July 1980. Its namesake was Patrick Carroll, who died aged just 22 after falling 40 feet (~12 m) from an ice face on the Minarets (3040 m) above the Tasman Glacier into schrund. He died of his injuries the following day. The original hut was inscribed:

“In memory of Patrick Carroll who courageously met his death near the Ranfurly Glacier on February 12th 1938. As Captain of the West Coast Alpine Club he rendered most valuable service in the erection of this hut, displaying as he did during the work, such persevering zeal and rare qualities of leadership”.

I get up and leave before Max wakes up, and pop up to Kellys Hill before starting the slog along the tops to the Taipo [It turns out Kellys Hill is not, as would be logical, the highest point on the ridge, so I did not actually summit it. Instead I went up Pt. 1408m which has some towers and stuff on it]. There are a few small tarns on the saddle which have formed between small ridges which look like faultlines extending along the range. Just before the track starts to drop down to the bushline, I pass three gorgeous large tarns but the breeze is a bit cold and I am far too exhausted to bother taking my boots off to go for a swim.

Tarns, the Taipo and the West Coast.

The drop into the Taipo is very steep and does not slacken off at any stage. Luckily there are many interesting plants along the way which provide excellent excuses to take a break. Along the hardest section where a slip has claimed most of the track leaving an unstable and partially overhanging edge there is a small group of Thelymitra hatchii (Hatch’s Sun Orchid). Further down I spot some Hymenophyllum malingii (Filmy fern) which is restricted to a few species of dead or dying host trees, in this case Metrosideros umbellata (Southern Rata), but is also occasionally found on rocks.

Hatch’s Sun Orchid

From here it just keeps going down. Finally I can see Seven Mile Creek, and I come across some big holes, rock stacks and finally, a narrow six metre deep canyon before I pop out onto the gravel river terrace. I go for a swim then walk to Dillons Homestead Hut. It is very cosy, although a bit dirty with a fair bit of rubbish around. The hut book and the newspaper clippings on the walls are a good read and the armchairs are comfortable. To my great disappointment I learn that Scottys Cableway is no more, and there is now a footbridge.

Dillons Homestead Interior

I continue on to the stock standard Dillon Hut, then along to the no-longer-a-cableway. I spot the bridge early on and keep heading along the riverbank until I suddenly hit a section where the river has cut into the bank and it requires some thigh deep wading. Surely DoC (The Department of Conservation) wouldn’t set a track here. I retrace my steps to the spot where I last saw footprints in the sand, and as I walk upriver again I keep a very close eye out for a track. I do not find one. The track must go through the river. I take my boots off, wade through the thigh deep water, scramble up the bank and put my boots back on.

I start along the bank only to find it loose and crumbly under my feet, and while this is marginal I would be able to get past were it not for an inconveniently placed gorse bush right in the middle, with a heavy branch leaning horizontally. I try to duck under the gorse bush but the bank will not support my weight, I cannot duck under the horizontal branch either as my pack is too bulky, and as I tentatively remove one strap from my shoulder I almost tip into the river. I look up the bank and spot the track.

[Conveniently] DoC has cleared the track in the last few months, and piled the gorse branches along the trackside, on one hand the track is visible from the river bank, on the other hand I need to drag myself and my pack up a river bank and through dead gorse to reach the track. I kick some steps into the crumbling bank to get my shoulders above the top of the bank, then I carefully roll my camera to safety. I place my hands onto the gorse and start to take my weight on my arms. The spines start to pierce my hands and I ease off for a moment. I reconsider taking my boots off and looking for the track but I am so close that I decide to commit. I take my weight on my hands and tip my torso over onto the bank then swing my legs up. I cannot lift myself with the weight of my pack pushing me down so I shuffle my body through the gorse, a bit further away from the edge and roll so I can slip my arms out of my pack and lift myself out of the gorse.

I spend the next five minutes picking gorse prickles out of my skin, clothing and backpack before crossing a creek and continuing up the track to the bridge. The bridge turns out to be a three-wire bridge [I do not enjoy three-wire bridges], and the track turns out to be the high water route, with the riverbank past the creek being the typical route. After I have climbed down the ladder which takes me to the start of the bridge I am faced with the bridge itself. It is blowing in the wind, and there is a huge bend in it. Clearly I am the first person to cross that day as spider webs span the width and the wires. I apologise for the destruction of so much work and set off. It would have been faster for me to take my boots off and cross the river.

Just after I start the steep ascent on the other side I meet a couple heading to Dillons Hut, I envy how short the remainder of their walk is. The rest of my walk is along the river, with alternating forest and river flats. It is starting to get dark in the forest and I afford myself a quick peek at the map when I reach a large flat. Reassured that I should make it to Mid Taipo Hut before dark I continue walking. I spot the hut well before I reach it and it seems I have made the right decision not to go straight to Dunns Creek Hut. My feet are aching incredibly badly and I cannot seem to find any position which eases my discomfort.

The next morning I backtrack to where the track to Dunns Creek Hut leaves the Taipo at Hura Creek. Suddenly I remember I wanted to brush my teeth so I stop at Hura creek. Alas I cannot find my toothbrush, nor think of anywhere I may have lost it. An Olearia avicennifolia twig, crushed at the top does a semi decent job but it is not a toothbrush. [I found my toothbrush in the pocket of my fleece pants that night at Newton Creek Hut]. The track leads me up a steep dry creek bed. The creek bed continues, but the markers do not. I hesitantly follow the creek bed when in doubt and it works out. Very regularly placed DoC markers suddenly appear where the creek bed splits in two and I head up onto the ridge.

It takes a lot longer than I expect to start the descent, and along the way I encounter a large puddle filled with a huge knot of writhing black worms [Gordian worms *shudder*]. I make a special effort to avoid any contact with the water. There are many of those huge native miniature helicopters/Kapokapowia (Urupetala carovei) hovering around. The descent is fairly short and I take my boots off to cross Dunns Creek. As I reach the true left my nose starts bleeding, and as I sit there waiting for it to stop I spot a lone Whio/Blue Duck (Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos). From here it is a short swampy walk to Dunns Hut.

Dunns Hut is small and cosy and I am tempted to stay there for the night. I read the hut book while deliberating and am almost swayed by the pool and sundeck. I did not investigate this attraction but in case you are interested:

Dunns Hut Pool and Sundeck Rules and Regulations (Open daily from 6am to 11pm):

This is a public nudity pool. People who are offended by nudity should not visit the pool — Use of the pool is at own risk. Dunns pool is not responsible for any damage or theft — It is prohibited to bring sandflies to the pool. It can damage yourself or other guests — Use sunscreen when entering the sundeck — Don’t use synthetic soaps as it can damage the aquatic wildlife — Children under 21 y.o. are allowed under supervision of a responsible adult — Don’t litter — Dogs are not allowed in the pool — The use of any type of camera near Dunns pool is strictly prohibited and will result in a lifetime ban of all Dunns Hut facilities — Please respect other visitors of Dunns pool!

Dunns Creek

I finally convince myself to keep moving and start heading up Dunns Creek. It alternates between boulder hopping and small cut tracks through scrub, not bad going but I do end up sacrificing one boot to get across the creek just after the hut. It is quite a long walk, and the weather looks like it is closing in. During one of the scrubby sections I knock a flax flower and the sticky nectar catches my leg. I wipe it and it sticks to my fingers. I taste it. Sugar water. I spend the next few hours drinking sugary nectar from flax flowers, and probably covering my face in yellow and orange pollen. But it gets me through the day and I am a little sad when I begin the ascent to Newton Saddle and the flax disappears.

It is very steep and slippery but the steep slopes are covered in a veil of white flowers. It is cold and windy on the saddle so I decide to keep moving and start the long boulder hop to Newton Creek Hut. It is similar to the Dunns Creek side, just steeper and the vegetation gets taller faster. Soon the boulders get larger and it starts to get dark.

I cross the stream once again and step on a small rock balancing between two huge boulders. [I know this does not seem smart, in fact I was aware that it was not smart, but it looked fun!]. It collapses below me and my leg falls between the two large boulders and into the water, the small but still heavy rock on top of my foot. I am stuck. I pause after an initial attempt to free my leg, then try again and manage to pull my leg out and drag myself to the edge of the creek. I have narrowly avoided a broken leg or ankle. In fact this almost mirrors a similar injury not too long ago where a large boulder fell on my shin and three months later, after two months of bruising there is now a slight indent along with a scar. I am much more careful after this [Luckily so, as someone was helicoptered out with a spinal injury while descending from Newton Saddle a few years ago].

I awkwardly navigate a small waterfall section and lower myself down a steep bank. Both boots are saturated following my fall and I have now accepted it is better to just walk through the creek where it is shallow, particularly as the light is failing, and my leg is sore. Finally, I reach Newton creek and the bend in the track. There are tracks where someone has recently walked and I am hopeful that someone will be at the hut. Alas, no one is there and I settle in and cook up my chicken noodle soup featuring extra noodles. Tastiest meal of the week. As I sit in my sleeping bag writing I hate myself for keeping a journal. All I want is to sleep, not to write up my day. I quickly brush my teeth, and spot a mother possum and joey outside the hut. Someone should take care of that.

I wake up to the moon shining directly into my face through the skylight. It is definitely not time to get up so I drape my woollen jumper sleeve/dry bag pillow case over my eyes and go back to sleep. The walk to the Arahura starts off beautifully, the weather has cleared and the path is flat. This changes rather suddenly and I am carefully picking my way down an incredibly steep trail with a rather tender leg. Finally, I reach the Arahura, a gorgeous west coast river that reminds me of two weeks spent in the Kokatahi. There is no sign of the bridge so I pull out the map. Downstream. I boulderhop to it, eyeing the steep slope across the river which I will soon need to climb up.

In typical fashion I end up stopping for a snack and rest about two minutes before reaching the top where I find the track intersection and a benched pack track. Surely this is too good to be true, and sure enough I soon have to drop down then climb back up to cross a small eroding creek bed. However the climb leads me back to the pack track and I can hardly believe my luck as it continues all the way to Mudflats hut. I drop my pack and head across the bridge to check out Mudflats hut and have lunch.

The track after Mudflats hut leads me through head height tussocks, tall Olearia ilicifolia forest and finally up a stream and back onto the pack track. It is easy walking to Styx Saddle, where I see two weka wandering along the track. From here the track is still very easy, but the head height tussocks and cutty grass which are masting do make it a little less enjoyable. I also encounter two guys heading the opposite direction, one going to Newton Creek hut, and the other heading out the Styx to Grassy Flat hut. Shortly after Styx saddle the track becomes a bit more interesting and starts to go up and down. The forest disappears and there is shrubland and seepages and views down the valley. The seepages have many gorgeous sundews including both Drosera stenopetala and Drosera spathulata, some of which have pretty white flowers on tall stalks.

Sundews (Drosera spp.) are one of the two groups of carnivorous plants from New Zealand, as well as the bladderworts (Utricularia spp.). There are seven native species of sundew which commonly occur in areas of poor or thin soils, their carnivory is an adaptation which allows them to gain more nutrients than they would otherwise be able to acquire. Therefore Droseras are able to inhabit areas where competition is sparse, and have a competitive advantage over any species which are able to cope with nutrient limited conditions. Drosera stenopetala is our only endemic Drosera, all others are also present in either Australia and/or Tasmania.

Drosera stenopetala

It is not long until I spot the impressive three-wire bridge spanning the gorge of Harman River, with a ladder on the opposite side to get you back to the ground. After this is a short climb to reach the small flat ridge upon which Harman hut lies. It is a stunning location and the hut is nice. Not yet replaced by one of the newer DoC versions. It is still slightly sunny when I arrive so I spread all my gear over the spacious porch, trying to dry my boots as much as possible from their saturation in the creek coming down from Newton saddle.

After some time spent cleaning the hut a slightly older couple turn up for the night. Andre and Corina have come all the way from Carrington hut over Harman, Whitehorn and Browning passes; three passes in one day, an impressive effort. They are heading to Campbell Bivouac to do some maintenance on the track and bivvy, as Andre does a fair bit of work with Permolat.

It looks like his trip was successful, check out his updates here:

Arahura valley (downstream)

Before leaving Andre comments on my gear, “your camera is probably your most expensive bit of gear huh”, and after a moment of thought I assure him it most certainly is. Most of my gear is hand me downs. I head off in the opposite direction as them, brushing through the chest height tussock and cutty grasses dripping with dew. I am soaked after only a few minutes of walking. I lose the trail while following a creek down to the river flowing down from Browning pass so follow that for a while before bashing through some scrub to find the trail again. I go for a very enjoyable swim just before beginning the ascent to Browning pass.

It is very pretty and crosses a steep creek just before a number of cascades, interesting cushionfields and dry rocky slopes. There is a slightly sloping and rather wet gravelly section to cross before getting a view of Whakarewa. I run into another older couple who have changed their plans from Popes pass to Harman Hut. There are patches of Dolichoglottis scorzonerioides (White snow marguerites) adorning the edges of the lake and snowy mountains that I want to climb. Just not today. I decide to keep going rather than popping up Mt Harman/Kaniere [Although I would have had plenty of time].

Lake Browning/Whakarewa

The tracks through the Arahura and Styx Valleys run along old benched gold mining routes which were established in the 1860’s. These routes were intended to connect the West Coast goldfields with Canterbury via Browning Pass/Noti Raureka and the pack track over Browning Pass was maintained to pack track standard until the 1930’s, then let go to tramping track standard. On the Wilberforce side, where the miners were based while digging a mine into the mountainside. There was a managers house, smithy and carpenters shop, and the fire place and oven were those used by Browning, whom the Pass is named after.

I literally have to peer over the edge to assess the route down from Browning pass. I decide to have lunch first. When I review the route there is a rather large group heading up, however they take a break so I decide not to wait for them to come up. There is a large loose scree slope going down, but there are clearly trails through the near vertical rock and cushion plants to the right, so I start off picking my way down this. I am eventually forced onto the scree and go extremely carefully to avoid dislodging any large rocks onto the group which is ascending. They are a mixed group of kiwis, americans and others being guided over the three passes trip. I am assured Whitehorn Pass is one of the most spectacular places from a completely exhausted kiwi battling up to Browning Pass as part of the group.

I start following the huge zig zags which lead down to the Wilberforce river and eventually, Park Morpeth hut. I get bored after the first two and cut straight down the slope, meeting the track just before the Clough Memorial; A sobering reminder not to take risks when crossing rivers. From here it is easy walking to Park Morpeth hut and I have a whole afternoon to kill. It turns out Park Morpeth is named after two men who died. Park, and… Morpeth.

I read a few books, swim and wash my hair, tidy the hut, explore the tarns above the hut and do some minimal cleaning of the toilet. It is one of the worst toilets I have ever experienced. Upon opening the door hundreds of flies swarm out and the entire interior is covered in fly faeces and stinks. I spray everything with disinfectant and give the seat a scrub, but it is still only just usable. It does not help that the sandflies here are particularly brutal, often making me bleed, are they taking bites out of my flesh? [Note: the mountain radio in Park Morpeth Hut is currently not working].

Fairy aprons (Utricularia australis)

It’s late at night and I have already had a nap. It must be about 11pm when I suddenly hear gravel crunching. My eyes are shut but I’m straining my ears. They are definitely boots. But they pass, and I lie there for a while expecting someone to open the hut door but nothing happens and I fall asleep. I start to think I may have just imagined them or it was an animal.

I wake up to bad weather. It rained during the night but this has since ceased, but the clouds are still threatening. It takes me a while to convince myself to leave the hut, but I know if the rivers rise and the weather was bad I would be well stuck. As unmotivated as I am, I begin walking. It’s a lovely walk through the valley, starting in scrub and turning into hours of boulder hopping to get to the pass. Light rain comes and goes and half way up the valley, to my surprise, I spot a glacier [Cronin Glacier]. The path is regularly marked with cairns, which is reassuring as I am nervous about going over the pass in suboptimal conditions. I am perhaps 20 metres from the saddle when I look behind me and see low cloud racing up the valley. The speed is terrifying, the first tendrils start snaking past my feet, then as I reach the saddle I can no longer see much more than 10 metres in front of me.

There is a huge orange DoC arrow in front of me and I go in that direction however I end up in a small trench, and I pause, uncertain if this is the head of the valley as I cannot see anything. I decide to head a little bit further and layer up. Gloves, hat, snack and map check. It’s freezing and while I’m walking along in what ends up being a circle, very slowly, stalling, trying to decide if this is the valley to follow down the clouds clear for a moment, and I catch a glimpse of the valley almost all the way down to Harman Pass.

I start the descent into the first basin, strangely not finding any footprints. It is very very slippery and with every step I take I send down small rock avalanches. I even unfasten my ice axe and use it to keep my balance on the steep slope. Once at the bottom, I look back up and admire my handiwork. The slope is now a black and grey mess of snow and gravel and rocks, with streams leading into the basin where the larger rocks have collected. I apologise in my mind and set off, relieved to know that was the hardest part.

Harman Pass from just below Whitehorn Pass

I reattach my ice axe and while doing so my nose starts bleeding. I’ll be honest. While tramping in snowy conditions, and wearing gloves, it is simply impractical and unnecessary to actively attempt to stop a nose from bleeding. So I leave it, dripping blood onto the clean snow in front of me as I go, trying to avoid dripping it on my front or legs. Only the fourth blood nose on this trip. I must be dying. It crosses my mind that anyone else coming along here in the next wee while may be slightly concerned by the extensive blood trail which extends for a good half a kilometer. I dismiss this as I feel like it is unlikely anyone will be heading up today.

The valley narrows and there is a lot of rockfall. I would have definitely felt safer wearing a helmet, luckily nothing falls while I’m making my way down. Where the valley widens again the thick permanent snow has partially melted, and I find myself winding from side to side to avoid huge caverns that drop down into the stream running down to Harman Pass. I am almost at the bottom, crossing a small patch of snow at a fast pace, I see the thin patch as it is too late. I tumble head over heels and end up sitting in the snow with snow underneath my hat. I start to catch glimpses of Ariels Tarns, and some markers, and when I reach the tarns I stop for some food. I see two people coming towards me, and am surprised to hear they are heading over the pass. I hope the weather will stay somewhat clear for them.

I tentatively follow the trail and finally reach Harman Pass. The views are spectacular. Huge swathes of cloud keep rolling in and out. Blue sky even peeks through every now and then. The contrast between here and Cronin stream is phenomenal.

The Taipoiti gorge below Harman Pass

It’s a steep drop into the gorge, and then there are many small river crossings, marginal in terms of keeping my boots dry, but well marked with cairns. There are stunning waterfalls, and when I reach the White-Taipoiti confluence there is a cableway. I love cableways. The Clough Cableway is a very long cableway and as usual it would have been much faster for me to take my boots off, cross the river, and put my boots back on. It takes me a long time to figure out how to make it stay in a spot where I can get all my gear in, and then myself. It doesn’t help that the sun comes out in full strength and I am exhausted by the time I am half way and start pulling myself upwards along the wire.

It’s back to boulder hopping after that, and I find myself stuck on a hurdle in the form of a large rock protruding into the river. I try going around but decide I can probably just jump down from the rock. Once I am standing on it, looking down at a small creek that is running right through the landing spot it all looks a lot more daunting. I try climbing down but it is too awkward with a pack, so I throw my pack down. It lands in the creek so I impulsively jump after it, staying dry and rescuing my pack. Luckily just the strap is wet .

I soon reach the huge Carrington Hut, which is creaky and spooky with its many empty rooms. I consider staying, but decide I have enough time to push on to Anti Crow hut. I encounter two young guys who are exhausted but only heading to Carrington Hut. It is a long walk, and I skip a section of forest by sidling along a river along rocks below a gravel face, but it only really gets interesting shortly before the hut as you cross a small peninsula like formation with tarns and scrubby vegetation and similar rocks to those found on the Bealey Spur track. This is also where I find two crisp notes on the ground. +$15. This may have added to the appeal. There is a small but deep river crossing about 15 minutes from the hut, I take my boots off and walk about 10 minutes barefoot, not willing to put my feet and sore, raw heels back into my boots. My heels sting from the water and it takes a good five minutes for the pain to subside. I put them back on but leave the laces loose and carry my gaiters,

There are two people in the hut for the night, but they soon head off to explore one of the smaller valleys with their gun. Anti Crow Hut is small and would be nice if it hadn’t obviously suffered a lot of abuse at the hands of 4 wheel drivers in the past. Also, something in the woodpile by the door smelt like a pile of stagnant chicken poo. A truly awful smell to encounter every time you left or entered the hut.

The next day is the hardest. My feet are in agonising pain. It is a short walk, yet I require many breaks to motivate me to make it to the road. Turkey Flat is impressive, and there is some nice beech forest with cheeping riflemen near the road. I meet another young hunter heading in all the way to Carrington. He’s the lucky one, I discover as I reach the carpark. His car is the only one of the three that has not been broken into.

I head out onto the road and stick my thumb out. It’s a rubbish spot but the road is busy and the bridge would be dangerous to cross. After a while of waiting and moving as cars park in front of me a couple heading to christchurch pick me up. I get dropped at Sheffield and soon get a ride with an elderly Dutch couple who not only provide interesting conversation but also a delicious sausage roll and coffee. In Geraldine I get squeezed into a people mover with a dutch family heading to Timaru, and I finally make it to Dunedin with the old editor of the Otago Daily Times.

My trusty silver beech walking pole

To see this route click the link below: