After the Cook Strait, the trail is easy through Queen Charlotte, then challenges increase with the Richmond Range and Nelson Lakes with huge, exposed climbs.
TA Day 71, Ship Cove to Madsen Camp, 17 km
After a very early ferry to Picton, the trail picks up on the glorious – and easy – Queen Charlotte Track.
TA Day 72, Camp Madsen to Onahau lookout, 37 km
It’s an easy super-highway above turquoise inlets. Blissful stumbles on a stealth campsite at a lookout.
TA Day 73, Onahua Lookout to Kaiuma Bay Road – 44 km
After Iwituaroa Reserve and road walk to Havelock for mussels, Blissful stays with trail angels.
TA Day 74, Kaiuma Bay Road to Captain Creek Hut, 32 km
It’s easy road walk to the emerald pools of the Pelorus River and sandfly hell.
TA Day 75, Captain Creek Hut to Hacket Track car park, 29 km
It’s a steep ascent to the Totara Saddle through a magical “Hobbit Haunt” of beech forest.
TA Day 76, zero day, Nelson
A brilliant day in Nelson with new friends from Minnesota who found me on MPR.
TA Day 77, Side trip! Abel Tasman National Park
Huge forested hills seem to grow out of turquoise water in a series of golden sand inlets and bays.
TA Day 78, Hacket Track car park to Slaty Hut, 18 km
Blissful heads steeply up to the ridge with a mountain carpet for miles and magical beech forests.
TA Day 79, Slaty Hut to Rintoul Hut, 13 km
Enjoying the view after a steep climb, there is yet another mountain to climb on eroded scree.
TA Day 80, Rintoul Hut to Top Wairoa Hut, 22 km
It’s steep up to Purple Top then steep back down to the Wairoa River with sidling and crossings.
TA Day 81, Top Wairoa Hut to Red Hills Hut, 29 km
The landscape changes abruptly in the dry Red Hills, with rocks in bright green and red.
TA Day 82, Red Hills Hut to St. Arnaud, 21 km
The Maitland track passes through an otherworldly beech forest, up and over to St. Arnaud for pizza.
TA Day 83, St. Arnaud to Upper Travers Hut, 30 km
DOC told me to keep moving even as the forecast called for severe gale and squalls.
TA Day 84, Upper Travers Hut to Blue Lake Hut, 16 km
I fall after Travers Pass bending my pole and ego, then it’s through magical beech forest to Blue Lake.
TA Day 85, Blue Lake Hut to Waiau Hut, 17 km
We have spectacular views on avalanche fields around Lake Constance to the pass.
TA Day 86, Waiau Hut to Boyle Flat Hut, 43 km
Wild horses are driven up the grasslands in the windy valley and we need to hid in the thorn trees.
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.