Mid Wairoa Hut(1176.1)-Porters Creek Hut(1191.1)
Campsite Elevation: 2935ft/895m
I slept really well last night in my tent with the nearby stream. So well that I was wide awake at 4:30am. It’s amazing to me how refreshed I can be after a good night of sleep on the trail even after the big day yesterday. I finished up yesterday’s journal and made myself lay there until 6am. Then I packed up and hiked out at 6:40am into a still darkened forest. The morning stretch of trail was along left branch of the Wairoa River all the way up to Top Wairoa Hut. The trail wove back and forth running alongside the river. It was peaceful and scenic with the river running in a gorge at times and waterfalls.
I had trouble enjoying it fully because the trail wasn’t wide and benched (flat). It was often narrow and angled downward with a lot of debris, (what they call sidling) so it could be easy to accidentally slip off the side of the track when the trail was elevated well above the river. It was nerve wrecking and made me feel unsure of my footing. Also, there were 8 crossings of the river. I’m not a fan of crossings, and that elevated my anxiety. The larger rounded rocks in the river were quite slippery, and mixed with my unsure footing on the trail, I was feeling more cautious than confident and I didn’t like that feeling.I made it to Top Wairoa Hut at 9:20am to find five TA walkers still there and in their sleeping bags. It was a group of four young American guys and a solo girl from Switzerland. They were waiting for the clouds and fog to lift a bit more before hiking out today. It seemed that it was lifting, so I continued on up to the high point for today. Within about 15mins, the fog returned and I found myself hiking in a cloud. The forecast hadn’t called for rain today, so I figured I just needed to gut it out and get over the climb and it would clear once I got down again. It got cold quickly with wind and some blowing rain, so I ended up putting on all my rain gear including my gloves, beanie, and buff to stay warm.
It is a scenic part of the trail, and I unfortunately missed out for an hour or so as I could barely see where to go with all the fog.
Sometimes the track was visible if I looked down, but often, it was through rocks and tussock, so there wasn’t a path and I needed to go off the tall orange poles in the distance. I was able to see maybe 50m in front of me, and often had to stand still for a bit as clouds blew off for a moment so I could see where the next marker was. My pacing was slowed both by navigation and by me changing clothing and dealing with having my camera out or in my bag as the rain kept stopping and returning.
As expected, as I headed down, the fog moved off and I was able to see views of what many say is the most scenic stretch of the Richmond Range along the TA. I agree that of all the days, today had the more unique and varied scenery and I really enjoyed it. I have to say that it’s amazing that this is the first real fog I’ve hit all trip. It happens to everyone at some point, and I’m just glad it was just for a bit over an hour and passed. Not bad at all, and I was glad it cleared.I decided I wanted to have lunch inside, so I waited until I reached Hunters Hut at 1pm. I really like this hut. I’d say that Rocks Hut and Hunters are my favorite ones along the TA route through this range. It holds 6, but is very spacious and has a table inside, which most have not had. Also, it has great views including the view off the porch looking back at what I’d just come down. When I left Hunters Hut, I could see that I was going to reach Porters Creek Hut fairly early, but that it would be too late to comfortably make it to the next hut. I checked the weather using my Delorme (now bought by Garmin) inReach. It seemed that the main rain wouldn’t come until tomorrow afternoon, but that there was a chance of wind and light rain tonight. I decided to hike relaxed to Porters Creek Hut and just see how I felt about going on when I got there. The hike from Hunters to Porters was a bit slow with a lot of up and down. It started with a bunch of rocks to get over, and that’s when I began to feel how sluggish I was from the big day yesterday.
From there, it was just up and down like a rollercoaster down to valleys and then up over a pass over and over. There was some sidling on fine gravel in shallow dirt that was worrisome because it seemed that anyone could easily slide off of it kind of like walking on ball bearings. I wasn’t a fan, and it was the main thing hikers mentioned later at the hut.
I could see Porters Hut for quite a long time before actually arriving there. On the way down, someone kindly left a note of reminder that there isn’t water at the hut and to fill up a the stream just before it. It was apparently also in the trail notes, but I’m terrible at missing details in those. It was Becky’s job to read the trail notes, and give me the highlights, and I am really disliking that I have to read them again! Becky may need to audio record the highlights for me to listen to.
When I got to Porters, which has six bunks, a father and his adult son were there. They were out for a few days and were nice. It was 4:30pm, and I decided to stay because the weather wasn’t looking great and I knew I wouldn’t want to hike all the way to the next hut. I wasn’t sure if there was sheltered camping between the two, and I’m well set up to get to town tomorrow before the major rain was due, so I was happy with how far I made it.
I knew there was a big chance that many were going to land at this hut with how many I’d passed and who was with me last night all headed this way. I really don’t like this communal sleeping thing, but it is great to have shelter in bad weather. It was raining lightly when I first arrived, so I took a bed. As people arrived, the hut filled up with TA walkers. Even a true northbounder who hiked up from Bluff arrived. Now that northbounders are intersecting, it is compounding the camping situations.
The last to arrive after 6pm were the four young American guys. With weather totally fine outside, they asked if they could all four come into the six person hut and sleep on the floor. Seriously!? Look at the photo of the inside of the hut and envision that. They didn’t even start hiking today until 11am, and made no efforts to get here first, but are completely comfortable with just arriving and inconveniencing the rest of us. Yeah, there’s a great way to represent the US. No one said yes when they asked, and someone even asked them if they had tents they could pitch. They said they did, but they’d rather not pitch them. They walked out only to return a few minutes later and ask AGAIN saying they didn’t want to pitch their tents if they could help it. Again, silence with no one wanting to be the jerk to say no. Then the northbounder guy in the hut said sure, come on in. What!? Ugh! I understand jamming extra people in huts when it’s bad weather, but it’s a perfectly fine night.
Not only that, but then they came into the hut to cook, when it was nice out and there was a picnic table, and it got cramped. Fortunately, I’d eaten early, but it was just too much and my claustrophobia shot through the roof. I let them know I was going outside to pitch my tent and one of them could take my bed. Then one of them said two of them could sleep in a tent. I asked what about the other two? Will there still be 8 people sleeping in the hut? I got silence in response and told them that I seem to have no choice since they are determined to sleep in the hut, and I really can’t sleep well with so many people in such close quarters. They still did not volunteer to sleep outside. So, out I went. Ridiculous.
Again, being packed into a hut like sardines is not the experience I thru-hike for. I don’t want to be in a single room breathing in the breath and hiker stench from nine other people. No wonder they have issues with norovirus in the huts right in this area! If there was bad weather, I’d totally understand, but it’s totally fine outside. It actually works out better for me to be outside. That’s why I slept outside at the hut yesterday too. I sleep so much better in my tent and there is a good sheltered spot (lots of good sheltered spots) by the hut. My point is that it really was a shit move on their part to impose like that, and put everyone in a position where they felt like they couldn’t say no when they obviously weren’t keen on the idea the first time they asked. Everyone else got their ass out of their sleeping bag this morning and hiked there to earn their spot. They deserve to enjoy it without having a packed hut, inhaling the breath of another four hikers on the floor, and hearing the commotion of that many more people trying to sleep. Way to give Americans a bad name. Like people don’t think we believe we’re entitled enough already. You all get the point. Ok, rant over. On to better things. The temperature outside and quiet sound out here is perfect for a good night of sleep. Plus, I have a great view! Looks like I’m going to just make it through the Richmond Range with good weather!
Huts are for everyone, regardless of who turns up and when. The Kiwi way is to make rooms for others. Floors of huts are fine for sleeping on. Just wait until you get to really busy huts further south.
Not sure what your problem is with this? The four American hikers are not the ones giving the U.S. a bad name in this instance.
I do understand cramming people in when it’s necessary due to weather, but it was totally uncalled for in this instance and not what it was intended for. Yes, they are fine for sleeping on when really needed, but common courtesy is to not inconvenience others unnecessarily. I was not alone in this sentiment at all in that hut, but I was the only one to just remove myself from the situation and I’m doing my best to stay outside the huts when weather is safe to tent.
Totally agree with that..may be thoses guys are not used to the harsh condition or NZ weather..may be they had a bad experience pitching their tent in an exposed place..got wet or scared and felt that it was safer to sleep indoor…cannot refuse shelter to anyone…for any reasons…same for water.
Erin made the right move…just pitch outside and let the sheep sleep tight in the smelly hut 🙂
NZ hut etiquette in huts that don’t require booking is that you cannot refuse anyone a place in a hut. regardless of whether its already full or not.
I agree, but there’s a difference when it’s for safety and really needed and when people are just wanting to not pitch a tent. Common courtesy would tell you not to do that on a clear night.
yup, fair call there, I don’t disagree with your argument.
unfortunately NZ huts come in for abuse because there are so many of them and some people take them for granted whenever they get to them.
there a fair no of people who brag about not paying their hut fees as well. and most people statistically in the huts won’t pay hut fees if theres no ranger it. estimates are up to 80% arent paying when they can get away with it. annoying when you’re being considerate and others don’t give a damn. not pointing the finger at TA walkers. there are people who are really just trying to do nz on the cheap who arent proper hikers and they hang out in the huts closest to the roads, so the closer to the road you are the worse behaviour you can get.
you get teens just hogging some of them to hang out with their mates all weekend or in the holidays and be anti social, drink , smoke, make noise, be messy.
Oh I didn’t think about that close to the road one with people finding a free spot to be. That’s terrible. Fortunately, it seems the ones I’ve hutted with seem to have passes.
How about hunters that are getting heliported to a hut and stay there for a week? I personally meet some hunters willing to give 2 trampers a jetboat ride to another hut so they could have the hut to themselves which i understood…priority to the locals
Thoses guys want to sleep in the hut…then let it be…if you do not like crowded huts…make your way out of it…simple as that.
If you know people are going to push to the hut.the stronger/faster tramper makes room or push for the slowest/less experienced and all be fine…
you’ll get youth groups completely overfilling huts but there isnt a thing you can do about it, even though there are more in the one group than there are bunks available… thats life in NZ….. some nzers can admitedly be slack at carrying their own shelter
um, one kiwi custom in huts can be to sleep two, top and tail to a bunk.. its sort of the way things can roll,
Top and tail – love it. Keep the NZ slang coming!
Thats crazy town about the huts! WTF
I guess its good to get this information in advance. Perhaps the American Guys knew this in advance – hence started hiking later
I stayed at one bunk house in Laos – ugh – bunk beds as far as the eye could see. Forget about it
Especially in good weather – why would any one prefer that ? sounds totally bloody hell gross
Yep, I couldn’t believe they actually preferred it to tenting.
I wish you would have said something to them. However, If I were out in the wild alone I might be more inclined to keep my thoughts to myself –
ps :: Kevin says you are totally right !!!
I was clear when I got up and told them I was tenting because I couldn’t sleep in a hut that tight, but I also had no right to tell them they couldn’t do that.
ps :: totally lame to call this some sort of Kiwi Etiquette or Custom or the Kiwi Way — when clearly people are abusing the system
A system which relies on these fees, a certain amount of hygiene, human decency and stewardship
I don’t mean to stir the pot here – its just that the above comments are not exactly true –
etiquette actually means some level of manners or decorum – human decency – regardless of which continent you are on
once apon a time it wasnt an abused system you could give people the benefit of the doubt to do the right thing and it was mainly kiwis who were hiking the hills and being considerate of others but now theres more people, kiwis included who arent doing the right thing.
yeah – it’s really surprising to and disheartening to read these comments
I guess I am not surprised, in that these things happen when the amount of visitors increases without some conservation or management efforts – people take things for granted. It’s sad.
I just thought Kiwi’s were more responsible and proud – as well as the people who would go through all of the effort to thru hike there
The Kiwi’s I know are
I’m in my forties, this isn’t the same NZ I grew up in anymore.
there are kiwis now who aren’t like traditional kiwis.
people don’t think about being nice to their neighbours as much because they don’t have to have anything to do with them as much as they used to…
Americans are interesting because there is no generic american, they vary so much in their attitudes and behaviour. a friend of mine moved to the states and she doesnt relate to her neighbours like she could in NZ, but thats just her neighbourhood…
I’m in my 40s too. Sounds like the millennial’s are taking over the globe
Neighbors in the US is a very wide swath of variations. Can of worms that one –
Do you mean get to know – or can’t relate because they are so uncivilized 🙂
America is too damn big in my opinion.
theres quite a few shelters in the NZ mountains now like the ones on the Appalachian Trail, they will often be the first accommodation you will come to from a road end, then the next accommodation hours down the track will be a hut . a lot of those shelters were once huts, but were so abused by people being anti social in them that they were turned into shelters to make them less comfortable and discourage as many anti social people as possible who were looking for a warm night in with make a nuisance of themselves with their mates.
It’s great being a bloke; you don’t smell the smells, and your happy in your ignorance of social etiquette!
The hut situation is too funny. Personally I think I would always tent except maybe in the worst weather, just due to preference. Let everyone else cuddle puddle in the huts!
It’s almost like we need two different words to describe backpacking and tenting, and backpacking between huts/lodges. They are two very different things. Not to start something like the thruhiking/hitching debate of several months ago. =P
I feel you! But It does not have anything to do with this people are from the US or other parts of the world. I would have made the same move as you to sleep outside.
Glad that most huts where empty when I thru-hiked the South Island in 2014 🙂
But at this particular hut I met a cool guy from Denmark who reminded me a lot on my two danish companions from the PCT. He had basically the same personality! That was so cool!
So strange how many debates in the commentary there have been on this blog on the TA. I don’t recall any other trails Erin has done that have inspired this.
I know, very interesting. There are some strong options on this “trail” apparently. Quite polarizing.
Interesting end of day. It would seem that common courtesy and a little common sense would prevail. I wouldn’t be happy with double the hiker-stench either. Good on your for retiring to the great outdoors.
Interesting string of comments. I think the Americans were rude, but, according to Wayne & others, this is acceptable in the huts. I would have done the same as you – move out into my tent. I can’t sleep well with a room full of people.
I enjoy your blog and found it helpful for my own PCT thru-hike (class of 2015). I have tramped in New Zealand/Aotearoa for over 50 years and I’m pleased to say that our hut etiquette has never changed over that time: everyone is welcome. We will always make room for you (generic you) with grace regardless of how late you arrive; regardless of whether you could/should camp outside; regardless of how full the hut is. We Kiwis have all slept on the floor or under tables or on the veranda, have squished over on platform beds and many of us have top and tailed on single bunks. Sure, there are always ‘entitled’ people who abuse hospitality, and there are always those who aren’t aware of our historical hut culture but we welcome them anyway and hope that our example will rub off on them. Hope to see you on the trail sometime.
Ugh….totally sympathize with you. I’m not a fan at all of huts and communal sleeping. This trail is definitely different!
So some lady wrote this book and Hollywood made a movie and the whole wide world started dreaming. Now all the trails are crowded yet somehow we all get along. But then chilli Mack has many uses, just saying. Ok, So I would sleep outside and down the trail. Thanks for the pics and keep on enjoying NZ. This sure is some Beutiful Country your in!!
Well, it is interesting to hear all views. I think etiquette or not, it wise to exit to the tent as long as weather was ok. But individual people certainly can be annoying, no matter their country of origin.
And, fortunately, there are some amazingly great people as well.
I think the main reason why this walk has so many more debates than Erin’s previous ones, is because Erin is walking in a foreign country with different standards to what she is used to, and with local people who seem to have strong views and like to express them.
That’s just fine, so long as things stay polite.
Speaking as someone who walks mostly in Europe, I don’t quite understand all this stuff about trail maintenance .. we don’t really do that at all.. it is wild country, and you just walk through it .. if a tree falls down, you walk round it.. so anything you get in NZ in the way of maintenance, you should see as a bonus!
I think they are good at it and NZ seems to have lots of amazing huts, too..
they call NZ bush, forests, but its often more like Jungle, if you dont maintain the tracks, it often becomes impractical to walk through, and progress is measured in hundreds of metres an hour.
people travel to NZ and they dont understand the differences with other countries, its a modern country, it might seem like so many other modern countries but theres still some big differences.
Personally, I don’t think I would want to sleep in a hut unless weather forced me to. But, then I’ve never been out for more than the 13 days it took me to do the JMT. Most of my hiking is done in locations where I might not see another person all day. Something like a hut is the opposite of why I’m out there. I think Wired got the better end of the deal sleeping outside.
Reading some other TA’ers blog (from their start around sept/oct/nov), I can spot the one of the “four americans”. Funny. But I can not read their point of view as that particular day is empty on their blog.
Why bother with typical crowded tube/bus/city trouble as you are (nearly) in the wild ?
Oh, that’s funny.
hey! what do you use for white noise??
It’s actually and app called “White Noise”