The most thrilling part of the trail, the tramper passes by turquoise lakes, needs to negotiate dangerous river crossings, and cracks up to mystical Stag Pass.
TA Day 87, Boyle Flat Hut to Hope Halfway Shelter, 32 km
It’s easy to Boyle Village and two men offer to stay together for the dangerous river crossings ahead.
TA Day 88, Hope Halfway Shelter to Hurunui No. 3 Hut, 36 km
The Harper Pass Track on flats and forest leads to a soak in a hot springs filled by waterfalls.
TA Day 89, Hurunui No. 3 Hut to Kiwi Hut, 23 km
Harper Pass takes me down an eroded landslip to several tricky crossings of the Taramakau.
TA Day 90, Kiwi Hut to Goat Pass Hut, 28 km
A long day of sidling and crossings is followed by a walk up rapids and rocks on the Deception River.
TA Day 91, Goat Pass Hut to State Highway 73, 10 km
The remaining trail of roots, mud and stream crossings is through heavy mist.
TA Day 92, zero day, Arthur’s Pass
I take a well-deserved zero day itching sandfly bites as the rain crashes down.
TA Day 93, State Highway 73 to Hamilton Hut, 26 km
We call an SOS for an injured hiker and I learn a friend from day 1 also wiped out here.
TA Day 94, Hamilton Hut to Harper River Camping Area, 20 km
It’s a hot and short walk along rocky riverbed that’s hard on the feet with multiple river crossings.
TA Day 95, Harper River Camping Area to A-Frame Hut, 32 km
A couple gives me a ride around the impassable Rakaia river and become lifelong friends.
TA Day 96, A-frame Hut to Manuka Hut, 28 km
This section is magical on river-as-trail and over a saddle to a valley of giant clouds.
TA Day 97, Manuka Hut to Potts River Bridge Car Park, 33 km
Running out of food, the local ranch owner gives me enough food to cross the Rangitata.
TA Day 98, Potts River Bridge Car Park to Crooked Spur Hut, 17 km + 14 km
A side trip to Mount Sunday starts the day before a crossing the braided Rangitata and up the Two Thumbs.
TA Day 99, Crooked Spur Hut to Royal Hut, 16 km
I break down (briefly) on the steep Two Thumb Track from heat, exhaustion and mean Kiwis.
TA Day 100, Royal Hut to after Washdyke Stream, 26 km
Stag Saddle is the highest point on the Te Araroa with a 360-degree view from Beuzenberg Peak.
TA Day 101, After Washdyke Stream to Tekapo, 26 km
The path is clear to road, past farms and down to the radiant turquoise of Tekapo under a cloudy sky.
TA Day 102, Tekapo to Twizel, (54 km)
I slept poorly last night with all the rustling about, phones going off and generally being stressed out knowing I need to slow down and enjoy, but somehow unable to just yet. So many friends responded with incredible words of kindness and encouragement when I posted my breakdown video on social media. It is the real, unvarnished me simply wiping out – almost like a child who missed nap time. I was tired, hot, hungry,…