I had a great night sleep and woke up bright & breezy at 6am. We got going at 7.30am and immediately had a stream crossing – wet feet again! We launched into a 650m climb straight away up to the Bullock Bow Saddle, which took 1.5 hrs to climb up to 1682m elevation. On the way up we saw a ‘tahr’. This is a large Himalayan goat-like animal which lives in the New Zealand mountains. It was on the ridge line for some time checking us out, and ran away when we approached.
Over the saddle there were spectacular views over the Two Thumbs and Sinclair mountain ranges, and back to the Forest Creek river valley. We had a 20 minute break before carrying on down a nice easy 4-wheel drive track to meet the TA again. Yesterday/today’s detour has been amazing!! I would highly recommend it – with these superb 360 degree views over the saddle it’s a much nicer option than the the river valley we were supposed to walk up to get to this point.
When we joined the trail again we had another couple of Kms before we got to Royal hut (reputedly, Prince Charles & Princess Anne stayed here as children, hence the name… I expect they got choppered in, rather than walking the two thumbs track ??). We had a short break and chatted to the two NOBO Kiwi boys having a rest day there.
Soon after we made our way slowly up to Stag Saddle, which is the highest point on Te Araroa trail at 1925m elevation. We followed Bush Stream – the river which had thwarted us yesterday – although now we were at it’s source so it was easily crossable. We made pretty good time climbing up, and got to the saddle around 1pm.
We had a break and marvelled at the views again. Lake Tekapo in front of us was so blue! It was amazing to be able to see my finish line way down at the other end of the lake! Instead of following the TA trail down the river valley down to Camp Stream hut, we went off to the right and walked up, over and along the ridge line instead. It was a bit breezy on the top but we enjoyed our lunch with the amazing views of Lake Tekapo.
We followed the superb, easy ridge track all the way down to a 4 wheel drive track, which took us straight to Camp Stream hut – a private hut built in 1898!! We arrived at around 5pm. Marcus (Kiwi) was already there and had made a fire in the little stove. Shortly afterwards we were joined by Laura, who I’d first met back at Merrivale hut about a month ago! It was so great to meet up again! Thankfully, no-one else arrived as the hut only had 5 bunks! It was very snug. We all had dinner, threw another log in the stove and went to an early bed.