24 Feb. Another TA walker arrived just before me last night and we had adjacent tents. Rhydian from Christchurch was south-bound. He had given up his rental home and put all his stuff into storage while he was away. Good way to save money! He liked the campsite so much he decided to take a rest day there.
I was off at 08:30 for an hour up a gravel road to the start of the Motatapu track which the trail follows for this section. Initially flat, the track rose through beech forest on to alpine tussock. About 1.5 km from my lunch stop at Fern Burn Hut I met Paul and Dorothy (in their 70s) from eastern Canada having a rest on a day walk after a steep section. They had found the track much harder than they imagined and were about to turn back. They had done well to get there and we had a long chat. There are steep sections, almost scrambles, and many exposed sections of track, where a slip or fall would be fatal. This is what DOC call an advanced track.
I took a leisurely lunch break at Fern Burn Hut from 12:00-13:30. Sharon from Arrowtown was having her lunch when I arrived. She was walking the Motatapu track in the opposite direction. She is a local ski instructor and was getting some tramps in during the off season. Silvi and son Emric from near Toulouse France arrived and pushed on to the next hut, Roses Hut, which was also my destination for the day. Nicola from Christchurch, Olivia and Ryan from Chicago also passed through, all with the same destination
I could see the track weave its way over ridges and gulleys for several km ahead over this section, leaving no doubt of the descents and climbs ahead. Lovely views.
I arrived at Roses Hut at 17:00. Already there were: Dave, and 14 year old son Baxter (from Greytown, near Wellington), Emma from Carlisle. Finn from California studying space science. A reasonably full 12 bunk hut of 10 people. Dave and Baxter are south-bound walkers and have been going 4 months from their start at Cape Reinga at the top of North Island. Baxter has taken time out of school with their blessing; no chance of a school in UK encouraging that. The others are just on a local tramp. I did notice in the hut log book that Miriam and Dan were a day ahead of me. Shame to have missed them.
A fairly hard day of 16 km, 1300m climb, 500m descent, in 8:30 hours. Fortunately a small creek next to the hut had enough water to wash. Also enough sunshine to dry my tent from this morning’s condensation. Dinner was rice, peas and tuna.