St Arnaud to John Tait Hut – 23kms
Total – 267kms
We hit the trail again by 8.30am after a long drive from Nelson. It was a great day of hiking today, firstly around the eastern side of Lake Rotoiti to Lake Head hut where we stopped for a quick break and a snack. There were a few DOC workers there doing some weed eating and track maintenance. This hut is easily accessible and often used by school groups. A water taxi will also take you there if you like.
Leaving the hut we continued up the valley following Travers river which feeds into the lake. St Arnaud Range and Travers Range were towering on either side of us. We were mostly sidling the river bank but at times would come out into the open grassy flats and feel the heat of the sun. We crossed several streams, some with heavy flows and some that had run dry. We crossed a couple of wire bridges over the river too. At one point we lost the trail and crossed a large stream where two other guys were standing on the other side. They had crossed also and realised something was not right. In the end we figured out we were not supposed to cross it at all and the track continued on the other side but was not very obvious.
We arrived at John Tait Hut by 5pm. This is a high risk avalanche zone in the winter months and there is a photo in the hut showing the aftermath of one that happened here in 2008. This is a larger hut that sleeps 27 people due to it being on a very popular circuit. There are only four other people here today so plenty of space. Annoyingly, someone before us had the fire going so it is very hot and stuffy. You can’t leave all the windows open due to the sandfly clouds. This hut is also right next to the river so after dinner I went down for my wash.
Tomorrow I will head off alone again while dad and Janeen make their way back via the other side of the lake. That will be big day for them again. It will be a big day for me getting up and over Travers Saddle to West Sabine hut. Should be between 9 to 11 hours tops. The next four days are big ones to exit at Boyle on 17th.