Highland Creek Hut(1624.9)-N of Arrowtown(1644) Mileage: 19.1mi/30.7km
Campsite Elevation: 2012ft/613m
I feel like today was a lot of the same with great views and ups and downs. Some ridge walking and mostly clear trail that we could get a good pace on. There were even graded switchbacks in some places!
The cool thing about today was that it was split into thirds. Each third had about the same distance of 6mi/10km, but the estimated time went down for each one, so they got consecutively easier. I’m giving times here because I know others find it helpful when gauging off another blog and we found little references on other TA blogs as to timing in this section for those wanting to attempt a longer day. The estimates tend to be quite conservative, but we have trail legs now, so we tend to be 20-40% faster than the book time. It was great to get the first section to Roses Hut done while we had cooler morning air and fresh legs. It was estimated to take 5-6hrs, and we made it in 3:18, which was a great way to start the day.After a break at the hut, we headed towards the old abandoned gold mining town of Macetown. It was estimated to take 4-5hrs and we did it in 2:31 (not counting the lunch break).
In the middle of that stretch we stopped and had lunch next to Arrow River. We saw two other hikers that didn’t appear to be TA hikers during the day, but no others the rest of the day. There is an option to follow Arrow River or take the track that sidles above the river. Some say the river is faster, but we’ve had our fill of days crossing a river in a valley, and chose to stick to the track. There was some brush and sidling to begin with, but then it benched out and was really cruisey.
We feel like it would have been faster than staying down by the river. We got lucky on that choice! At the bottom, there was still some walking crossing the river many times, but it was enjoyable and quite shallow, so it felt really nice. We even came across a couple skinny-dipping that probably thought no one else would be out there.
The book time is estimated for 4-5hrs and we did 2:58. We were so early finishing the day that we would have liked to hike more to get closer to Queenstown, but ahead is a very residential area where there is no camping for the next 30km. It was 4:45pm, and we found a great secluded spot over looking Arrowtown, so we called it a day. Whew, what a day!
We will arrive in Queenstown tomorrow. Then we have booked a bus to the next trail town of Te Anau where we will double zero the rainy days in a quieter, cheaper town. From that town is the launching point for the Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks. There were actually openings for campsites, so we were able to book the Kepler for the two days before Becky’s birthday. We will finish the Kepler on the 16th and have a bus booked back to Queenstown to then celebrate Becky’s birthday (with some kind of bungee or swing, eek!) on the 17th. From there we will see how weather looks (looking good for now!) and Griggs and I will hopefully be able to do the side trips around Mt Aspiring National Park that we couldn’t do when we went to Wanaka. By the time I finish those side hikes, Becky and Tom should have worked their way down to Queenstown via the Te Araroa and we will do the last two weeks of the TA together.
Griggs will be with us through the birthday celebration probably, but will wait to see how weather looks for anything after that in Mt Aspiring. He will most likely continue on the trail at a more steady pace once I join Becky and Tom at a more relaxed pace. He also had these side trips planned for after his hike. Since we are having fun hiking together, he is willing to take the double zero (he hardly ever zeros!) to do the Kepler Track and bday jump in Queenstown. He figured he wanted to do this stuff anyway and it’s more fun together, yay! The two of us are definitely on a roll hiking together, so I’m happy to keep that good mojo going.
As for the double zeros, it’s going to be perfect for me to research Tasmania and get my itinerary down for that. I need to book things and flights for March/April. I’m open to suggestions if anyone has been there and has any. There isn’t one long hike there, so I’ll be doing shorter backpacking trips and touristy things. Exciting! Great Day 100!