Te Araroa Trail Day 144 – Tarn hut to Top Wairoa hut

Wairoa river richmond

Te Araroa Trail – Richmond Ranges – Tarn hut to Top Wairoa hut

We had a great sleep in the tent last night and woke to a chorus of bird song at Tarn hut. Blair had heard birds in the night too, which he thought might be Kiwi. I was out like a light and didn’t hear a thing!

There was a light mist floating across the tarn as we set off at 7.30am.

Misty morning at Tarn hut
Misty morning at Tarn hut
Tarn hut to Mid Wairoa hut
Tarn hut to Mid Wairoa hut

Today was all about the forest and the river. We spent the morning in beautiful undulating beech forest.. nothing too strenuous.

We reached Mid Wairoa hut 7kms later at around 10.15am and had had a long break in the hot sun. Sita was already at the hut and shot off ahead of us. She was going to skip two huts today and make it further along the track than us.

Mid Wairoa hut
Mid Wairoa hut

Mid Wairoa to Top Wairoa hut

We set off again at 11am. The next 7km stretch to Top Wairoa hut was more slow going and followed the left branch of the Wairoa river.

Following the Wairoa river
Following the Wairoa river
Following the Wairoa river
Following the Wairoa river
Following the Wairoa river
Following the Wairoa river
Following the Wairoa river
Following the Wairoa river
Following the Wairoa river
Following the Wairoa river

The Wairoa River – Mid Wairoa to Top Wairoa hut

This was probably one of my most favourite river stretches on Te Araroa trail. The sun was out, the river was low, and the frequent crossings were easy. There was a fair amount of sidling up and down steep river banks which made things interesting. Combined with the number of photo stops I made, our progress was slow.

En-route I discovered a patch of stinging nettles in a hand-hold, which was pretty inconvenient, and Blair was stung by a wasp.

We walked ahead of Flo for most of the day, as his knees were beginning to give him some pain. He only started Te Araroa trail on the South Island, so was just a couple of weeks into his journey. His pack was pretty heavy and he was seriously considering hitching out to Nelson after the Richmonds to make some gear changes.

We met and passed Taylor, a Canadian guy, after about an hour or so. He was carrying an enormous pack and had a banjo strapped to the outside of it. (When we googled the weight of a banjo later, we discovered they can weigh upwards of 5kgs!!!). He was going very slowly and we wondered how he would ever manage the slippery, rocky scrambles, extremely narrow ledges and frequent river crossings.

Top Wairoa hut

We reached Top Wairoa hut around mid-afternoon and met David – a Canadian hiker hiking the South Island, who Taylor had tagged along with.

Top Wairoa hut
Top Wairoa hut

A couple of hours later Taylor still hadn’t appeared. So far it had taken him over 7 hours to hike the river stretch. Blair and David went back out down the river to look for him, afraid he might be stuck somewhere, or unable to continue. Thankfully, he was only a short way away, and was able to make it up the hill and set up his tent.

Christmas eve at Top Wairoa hut
Decorating the Christmas tree – Top Wairoa hut

Tonight was Christmas Eve. Flo had arrived, and we cut a small branch of foliage and made a Christmas tree. We decorated it with gold paper from a packet of chocolates I had. When Blair arrived back we played some cards then ate dinner.

David joined us a little later, and we watched the Christmas movie ‘Love Actually’ huddled around my phone. A little while later Carol and Lulu arrived having had a long day from Tarn hut.

Christmas fireplace - Top Wairoa hut
Christmas fireplace – Top Wairoa hut

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