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Martin’s Hut to Round Hill

Hiking Days Remaining: 4
Remaining Distance: 82km
Distance Covered: 3219km
Total Traverse Hiking Days: 144

This morning we packed up and left our four-night base in the town of Tuatapere (Southland). There’s a lot to be said about this small town (population 600) which once thrived on forestry but is now more of a well-travelled tourist stop. The people of Southland are just as friendly as the rest of New Zealand but probably have an extra hour up their sleeves should the need arise to chat about something. Tuatapere is the sausage capital of New Zealand and is filled with the sounds of farmyard animals all day and all night long.

Gordon joined me for the remaining 23km of The Longwood Forest (the last section of forest on the Te Araroa Trail) from Cascade Rd to Round Hill – an estimated nine-hour hike. We planned on setting off on the forest trail at 9:00am but due to the pace of the WiFi in Tuatapere, we only set off at 12:10pm. It took three long and painful hours to piece together two short posts for the blog. This is after the photos and text had been prepared. This process of combining all the pre-produced elements in WordPress would normally require a half hour to publish back at home but here in New Zealand it’s a totally different story. So we’ve been held back in a big way while trying to keep the blog site running. It’s a lot more time-consuming than we ever imagined.

The track south from Cascade Road is fairly consistent all the way through to Round Hill. There are periodic gullies every fifteen minutes or so which we had to leap over or sometimes slide into and climb out of the other side. This broke the momentum we were trying to keep up in order to exit the south side before dark.

At five hours of fast paced hiking the track came close to the outskirts of the forest where we found our way out for a view. At this point we still had another hour and twenty minutes of dark forest to hike through, but we enjoyed the change of light, even if it was only for five minutes.

A few months back I started carrying a Kiwi Coin (a basic direction decision maker) with me, which occasionally aids in my navigation process. I’ve had this coin for a while now and I use it wherever signage is lacking or if the track lacks a particular point mentioned in the Te Araroa Trail notes. After cross-referencing my position on both LINZ maps and Te Araroa Trail Maps, I then check my GPS for signs of alternate tracks. My last option is to check the handy Map App on my iPhone which Gordon kindly downloaded for me. If there is still no sign or marker showing the way I humour the situation by flipping the coin. No need to make a call for either side. The Kiwi side of coin strongly recommends I take the track to my left. The flip side strongly advises I take the track to my right. This way, the decision is made for me which means if I take the wrong path, I don’t have myself to blame.

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