We obviously got a later than usual start from Boyle today given the great sleeping conditions. We had a bit of a feast last night as well to eat up some of the extra food we’d packed. Breakfast was eggs and grits and French press coffee as well so quite a luxury morning. It was still cold outside so we were nicely bundled up when we got going.
The trail started with 10km on what we’d call highway avoidance track. In the North Island this would’ve been horrible bush that we’d have to crawl through but here it was open and there was a fairly established track going through the area. We crossed over the road and headed towards the river which we were arrived we could cross if it seemed low. It looked pretty low and we went for it but I ended up having to come back and rescue Heather. She’d made it about halfway but the water was so strong she couldn’t keep going. We made it across safely but it was a good lesson for future South Island rivers. The trail continued on the right hand side of the river away from the road. It was largely over rocks but there was plenty of muddy bog that we had to get through. Aside from the bog it was still nice trail but very exposed and getting quite hot.
We reached a small high point with a good overlook of the valley and not to many sand flies so decided to stop for an early lunch.
The trail turned into a valley and we began the proper treck up towards Harper Pass. The trail turned from regenerating bush to really nice beech forest. The only disadvantage was many wasps hanging around all the trees. It was a really nice trail and the forest was nice a cool with a good path through it and not many root or rock jumping. We took a snack break or two and made it to the Halfway Hope Hut early in the afternoon.
It wasn’t a great hut but would’ve worked if needed. Another old one that DOC doesn’t necessarily recommend using. We had another two hours from here to our hut, the Hope Kiwi Lodge. We descended out of the forest pretty quickly and had a km across some boggy terrain by the river but then hit this great piece of trail that was effectively on grass. This continued all the way to a swing bridge that we crossed before the final push to the hut.
The final part was through two small forest sections. We’d been warned that there was a ton of debris in the forest from the fallen trees but didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was. There was several sections of hundreds of meters of trees down where it looked like giants had just been tossing tree trunks at each other. It was really hard to get through and we lost the trail several times. Eventually we hit a stream and followed that down out the forest where was popped up and saw the hut. It’s a great 20 bunk hut and there’s two more SOBO’s and a NOBO staying here tonight so not very crowded. It’ll be another decently long day tomorrow and we both have very heavy packs.