Hurunui No.3 Hut to Lake Kaurapataka Creek – 29kms
Total – 445kms
Scott, Jane, Tui and I all set off together at 7am. One of the first streams we crossed had a three wire bridge. That was fun and easy enough but took a bit more concentration. Tui shot ahead early on and we did not see him again today.
The first half of the day to Locke Stream hut was mostly through bush and very muddy. We passed a small four bed hut called Cameron Hut and there were two guys there who had just finished replacing the roof. They were volunteers and had all their building supplies and food etc dropped in by helicopter. The fire was going and it looked pretty cosy. We passed a small two bed bivvy on the way up Harper’s Pass.
We were gradually climbing as we followed the Hurunui river upstream and then Harper’s Pass was a short and steep climb from the bivvy. We are now on the western side of the southern alps. A new mountain range came into view again and it was a long and steep descent down to the valley floor and the headwaters of the Taramakau River which grows into a large river that flows all the way into the ocean south Greymouth.
We stopped at Locke Stream hut for lunch and then continued on down the valley. We crossed the Taramakau and then followed the true right side down for several kilometers on open flats and dry river beds. There were dozens of streams coming down from the hills that we crossed and drank from as the sun started to heat up. We stopped for another break at the junction to Kiwi Hut and checked our maps and identified a good place to camp on open grass flats and next to the river so we had water. We pushed on for another 7kms to get there but it was not an easy 7kms. We had to cross the Taramakau again and it was getting big down there. Where we were meant to cross was flowing too fast and deep so we walked upstream until we found a safer place to cross where the river split in two. We took our time studying the best way over before committing. The first braid was easy enough but we had to link up for the second part. The water was over my waist and moving fast. We held strong and moved well together. It was a real thrill and I was stoked when we got to the other side! I had been thinking about this crossing for a few days and I really got to put my river crossing skills to practice.
There was no track at all from here and the trail on our map was either washed away by the river or completely overgrown by gorse. We started to worry that our camping spot might be the same because it was a good few kilometers of gorse that we had to walk around. We found ourselves bush bashing at times where the track had been washed away from the river banks. I could make out some grassy patches in the distance where we were aiming for so we pushed on for the last 2kms to get there and it was the perfect spot. Well it was very rocky but there were two spots that were flat enough for our tents. The river and a stream were right next to us so I had a swim and a wash. It was just deep enough for me to lie down and get right under and let the water flow over me. I love bathing in the rivers. It feels so amazing and refreshing after a long day hiking. It feels like paradise here being surrounded by giant mountains and beautiful rivers. We had our cups of tea and I enjoyed a few ginger nuts on offer before we had our dinners. I retired to my tent at about 8pm when the sandflies were starting to get annoying.