There were 10 people on Locke Hut last night so I slept outside by the Taramakau River. It was a great nights sleep before heading to Morrisons Footbridge.
The first crossing of the Taramakau was impassable. We had to our way down gravel bars for a couple of hundred meters until we were able to cross.
After that it was pretty much the same the whole way down. There isn’t actually a path after the floods. It is possible there wasn’t really one before them. Either way it consisted of lots of walking over riverbed, in the river, across side rivers, and bush bashing round until a way was found.
It took considerably longer to reach the Otira River than we had expected and we had come up with a plan to go to the Otira Hotel for a ‘weather update’. It should be pointed out that this was Silvan idea and it was a good one.
For starters, the Otira Hotel has become a wonderland of antique items and knick knacks and feels a quite a lot like stepping back in time. In fact, occasionally you wonder whether you have entered some alternate dimension.
The second reason it was a great idea was that the weather went downhill again with 110mm of rain forecast overnight destroying any chance of us being able to do the next section up the Deception River the next day.
Turns out the Taramakau River isn’t actually a designated track. It is always like that.
This is the closest Te Araroa comes to the West coast.
If the Otira River is down, cross it. The walk along the side was painful and treacherous.
The weather had improved immeasurably by the time we arose. The clouds were moving in a different direction, and with no rain, we headed for Locke Hut.
The first 9km to Hurunui No.3 Hut (I still haven’t found No.2) were easy and uneventful except for a short stop at some hot springs. Silvan and Angelynn had a soak. I didn’t feel like it. They were kind of a surprise to me because, unlike volcanic hot springs, they didn’t smell overwhelmingly of sulphur.
After Hurunui No.3 we headed up to Camerons Hut. Here we started to get an impression of the vast amount of water that had travelled down the valley last week. Slips, fallen trees, and signs of serious flooding are everywhere. By the time we reached Harper Pass Bivvy large portions of the track had been either swept away or fallen off.
Once over the pass the track looked like a scoured riverbed due to the water and occasionally just ended abruptly where the river had swept away a small bluff.
Locke Hut is fairly untouched though which is good as I am sleeping in my beloved tent as there are 10 people here.
After looking at the damage to the area I was glad we hadn’t chanced the weather.
Camerons Hut would have been terrifying in the storm. The river beside it had gouged out twenty meters wide.
After Harper Bivvy the track was a little hard to find. Probably due to damage.