March 28th 2017
Roses hut – lake Hayes
Total distance: 1664.2 miles
After a good nights sleep, I was packed up and ready to go at 8:15am. It’s getting darker as autumn is here so pre 8am starts are looking less likely! It was absolutely freezing in the hut, you could see everyone’s breath as they were talking, so I bundled up only to strip everything off in under 2 minutes of walking. It was warmer outside than in the hut!
The first big climb was straight away and I had Mercy and Kit right behind me, I stopped to ‘sort out my shoe lace’ and let them pass, I don’t like the pressure of having someone right behind me. After a while I was really having problems with my feet, the left one kept going numb and then getting pins and needles which made going uphill all the more difficult. On the plus side it was sunny and the views across the mountains and the valleys were awesome.
It took just over an hour to get to the top, we sat for a little while and thought about the fact that we were as high as we are going to get now, we don’t go higher that this from now on and we are starting to leave the mountains behind.
Then came the long descent the other side, I can’t say I enjoyed it that much. The trail was on a slant the whole way and I took several tumbles as I slipped on the wet grass. The tussock was lumpy, unstable and covered holes. The bush and spikey plants scratched me and pulled at my clothes and pack. After some intense downhill we got to the river and debated whether to keep following the trail or follow the river, but we did that before and it was just as hard work so we decided to stick to the trail. It followed contours for some of it but there was also a lot of steep up and down and the trail was still on a slant so it really was hard work. By the fifth time I landed on my bum I was getting pretty frustrated, and when I missed an orange marker and went the wrong way I got really annoyed with myself.
The trail ended with a river crossing where it was impossible to keep dry feet and that just topped it off really! I was glad when that bit of trail was over. I had slid and tripped my way through it for a couple of hours and I was ready to finish the relationship between me and the tussock. It’s just not working out. So I was happy to join a 4wd track and walk easily for a bit. I was starving as it was now midday, but the flies were just outrageous so I wasn’t able to stop. I passed through Mace town which is an old abandoned mining town. Not that there is much to see anymore because people have been stealing the stones and things that were left as collectors items, so there isn’t really much left to see. I pulled some food out my pack that I could eat as I walked to avoid being bitten a million times.
The trail then crossed the river 5 or 6 times and the water was freezing! I think I got brain freeze from it. The last climb of the day was up to Big Hill Saddle (the inventively named Big Hill!). It was hot and humid and a bit of a slog but I eventually made it to the top where Colin and Sandy were waiting. We got phone coverage and we were able to book places to stay in Queenstown. I chose to stay at the YHA as with a low carbon traveller discount it is a very reasonable NZ$26.30
The descent the other side was relatively easy, as we are nearing civilisation the trails become popular day walks so they are more well worn and easier to walk on and follow. It was a nice path which dipped in and out of the forest and ended up in Arrowtown. What a strange but nice little town Arrowtown is! It has the remnants of its mining past all over the place, a place I would like to revisit when I’m not a stinky hiker. We found a shop that sold basically everything and while Sandy and Colin went for fish and chips, I had a chicken and avocado sandwich. Something about it just spoke to me, and it was a good choice! Of course I also had two sodas and a double scoop ice cream to go with it!
The original plan was to stop in Arrowtown and stay at the holiday park, but Sandy and Colin wanted to carry on and get a few more miles in to be closer to Queenstown. I was unsure as there wouldn’t be anywhere to camp. They thought it would be ok to stealth camp by the lake, and I didn’t think it would be, seeing as we are so close to the city and the restrictions on freedom camping they have here. The trail notes weren’t clear as to whether camping was allowed or not. But, I decided to go with them anyway and I told them to speak French if we got into any trouble. We followed the road for a short time before joining a cycle / walkway which went through a golf course to get to Lake Hayes. As expected, there was a no camping sign when we arrived. So we knocked on someone’s house, explained the situation and asked him if we could camp near his property. He said no, so we asked at another house, a beautiful house set in a huge plot of land with gardens similar to some parks at home. They were a lot more welcoming and after a conversation about the trail where they expressed an interest in doing it in sections, they said it was ok for us to pitch our tents amongst some trees in their grounds. So nice of them and we were very grateful.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.