Days Remaining: 10
Distance Remaining: 224km
Distance Covered: 3076
Hiking Days: 138
With all the camping I’ve done on this traverse to date, I thought I’d left the worst of it behind, until we camped overnight at North Mavora Campground. This is where I woke to the feeling of something moderately heavy running across my sleeping bag in the middle of the night. I suddenly became apparent that I was sharing my tent with an unknown creature. I lay still, listening for a hint of what it could be. I slowly reached for my headlamp but before I had time to find the switch, a dark figure ran up the side of my sleep mat towards my face. It was a GIANT RAT! I army rolled to the side and quickly snatched the beanie off my head. I had to catch it in my beanie. It was all I could think of using in the dark. Just when the rat stopped for a breather. I made a quick dive for it but it was too fast for me. It made a run for the far side of the tent. This happened several times. Finally it scurried away through the hole it had created earlier. Turns out, the bag of chocolate it was after was too big for the hole so it remained inside the tent. In the morning I saw that the rat had eaten more than it’s share of our chocolate. It took me a while to get some sleep after that episode.
Whilst we were eating breakfast at Greenstone Hut a helicopter landed just meters away. A group of hunters and their Border Colly dogs were whisked away and not long after, the helicopter returned to pick up the rest of the group. This out of the blue activity really did add to the excitement of setting off on a new section.
Since arriving in Te Anau (Saturday 28th April) we’ve selected a few photos from our hike through what seemed like a never-ending valley of winding rivers, swing bridges, shady forests and beautiful lakes. Because winter was setting in, we had this five-day hike all to ourselves. We both felt that Otago’s Mavora Lakes Track is extremely understated. You know you’re running behind schedule when you find that DoC has switched off all the campground taps to stop them from freezing over.
This place gets chilly at this time of year! Having a hut to take shelter from the cold, is a welcome relief. We had two nights which we spent in single layered tents, both of which boast light-weight fabric. We both endured the cold of both nights and were glad to see the morning arrive. After packing in the mornings we looked forward to hiking as this was the only true way of keeping warm all over.
The fourth day’s hike south of the lakes involved a fair bit of unsealed road. To give you an idea of how quiet it was out there, only three cars passed us during the day. After many hours on the road and with an hour before sundown we were almost out of water. As the rain came down we headed for the river and found ourselves in a paddock with fresh cow pats everywhere! The cows had done a mighty fine job of covering the area. Could we really camp here with all this poo everywhere? . . . Lets do it!
We took it in turns treating the water which took a while as we required ten litres between the two of us. Dinner went down well and afterwards we just lay down and chatted a good hour away. We noticed small puddles of water appearing in Gordon’s tent. The waterproofing had gone wrong but we were too tired to do anything about it. Actually , we did the easiest thing we could think of which was hoping for the rain to stop – which after an hour it did. The clouds lifted and the warm air escaped from our patty paddock. This is when it got really cold. This night marked the coldest night NZ has had for the month of April in over seven years!
Morning finally came and put an end to our long, cold and wet night, but the one good thing we found about sub-zero temperatures is that it hardened all surrounding cow patts to the point where our camp ground was no longer considered a treacherous mine field. We could safely roam without fear or hesitation, but with new-found confidence. We could even stand on the patts without sinking. The only other way of putting it, is that the cold had frozen the shit out of them. We’re clean campers, so we greatly appreciated this overnight change in viscosity.
One part of packing up I didn’t appreciate was finding the bite valve to my hydration bladder, resting silently on top of one of the larger cow patts. The valve was patiently waiting for the rescue it so desperately needed. Needless to say I refrained from drinking from it while we completed our packing, but I knew that once our hike was underway – sooner or later I’d have to take a swig from it. The Meths was also refusing to ignite and once finally lit, the water took forever to boil. If I had my time over again I would have chosen to pack a scew-on burner with gas cartridge? Slightly heavier but with a faster setup and adjustable flame, the benefits are well worth the extra weight. Due to the cold and wet, the pack-up on this particular morning took three long hours to complete. We were glad to hike out of there!
One special memory I’ll have of this five-day hike I did with Gordon, is reaching the end of it at highway (SH94). As we rounded the corner onto the highway we saw a white 4WD heading towards us. The lights flashed at us a couple of times – it was our parents. They had flown over to New Zealand a couple of days prior. We’d planned to meet them at this very spot. Arranging the time and place was fairly involved as the itinerary included current and future events that would lead up to Bluff. One thing I learnt on my traverse is that I could plan ahead as much as I liked, but things never seemed to turn out the way I expected them to. This plan was the exception. It turned out just as nice as I had imagined. I think the photos speaks for itself.