Wednesday 5 February 2014

Catlins River Walk

The Catlins River Walk follows the river from Tawanui (were we were camped) to The Wisp and is a one way five hour tramp. Unless you have a vehicle meet you at the other end (approximately 35kms by road) you do need to retrace your steps making this a 10 hour return hike through, at time, quite challenging terrain. The track crosses the river four times via swing bridges, the first being at "Franks Stream" a two & half hour walk away & the target for our walk.

Crown ferns crowd out the forest floor
The well defined track passes through some stunning forest scenery with beautiful Silver Beech trees as the canopy and smaller native bush, ferns & mosses filling the understory. Much of the track has exposed tree roots similar to the photo above. This makes for a very uneven surface to walk on & you have to constantly watch where you step for fear of breaking an ankle or slipping over. The track has quite a number of steep sections, a lot with steps although not all placed to match your step.

Any colour as long as it's green
It took us over three hours to reach the swing bridge due to the amount of times I had to stop to take photos. At every turn we were greeted by the beautiful colours of the bush & ferns. And then there were the many different species of colourful fungi, these are just a small selection of the different types. So many & such stunning colours. My favourite is the Purple Pouch Fungi & the black frilly one on the top row, although they are all amazing.
Towards the end of the section we were walking we nearly gave up wondering how much further we could manage as the track got rougher & rougher and we knew we'd have to return the same way. It was only a few days after our last tramp & I'd said then "no more for awhile!"

Sphagnum moss hung from the branches
We passed an American couple coming the other way that spurned us on. They had been dropped at the other end and were completing the full track from that direction. They would have been in their late seventies, the lady was, how can I say it, rather large & she obviously had a walking disability. They were quietly making their way up & over the many obstacles that were at this section, her with the help of two walking sticks, him with his hand at her elbow when he could fit beside her. I wondered if their accommodation hosts (a luxurious lodge) had warned them of the arduous walk it was going to be.

To make matters worse when I asked how they were getting back to their lodge once they reached the other end, they said "they were going to walk, it wasn't far". Far! It was another 4-5kms down a gravel road! That was pretty impressive, what had we to moan about! I also asked how far the swing bridge was & when they said about 30 minutes I halved that and took another 5 minutes off for good luck!
And sure enough within 10 minutes we spotted our reward. Usually it's a waterfall that's our treat but I'll take a swing bridge any day, especially "wire single person" only bridges like this one. 

We made our way down under the bridge where we had a welcome rest & a bite to eat before David went fishing for a short time. Within a couple of casts he'd hooked a brown trout that managed to spit the dummy & take off super fast. After about 20 minutes fishing time & knowing that we had a long walk back ahead of us we packed up and headed back down the track.

It was a long walk home although we covered it in just over two hours this time, our legs were turning to jelly & my feet were starting to really throb. Every muscle in my legs & thighs were starting to complain & my arm ached from holding my camera (which is quite heavy with it's big lens on) although I still managed to grab these quick shots of a rifleman that we found right back at the beginning of the track! The photo on the left gives an indication of how tiny these fast moving little birds are, they run up the trunks of trees grabbing insects on the way. These are still not good shots but I'm getting there!

Needless to say the following day was a day of rest! We both could hardly move about the van but at least we're getting fitter. I have a phone app that records the amount of steps I take each day, 10,000 is a good day of exercise. The last big walk we did was 16,500 steps, this one recorded 23,000 steps. David also has an app that tracks us & keeps track of the distance; it was a total of 10.5kms, a pretty good effort if I must say so myself!


  1. Hope Dad was a fun guy while he was waiting for you to take all the photos! Love all the colours!

    1. Haha! Of course he was, he was finding all the fungi for me- & taking a welcome break at the same time ;)

  2. We did this walk all the way to The Wisp and back!! Tough and we were nearly dead when we got back after 8 hours. Since then we made a vow to never walk more than 5! In my blog I think I only described our exhaustion so it was so good to read yours and remember the swing bridges and admire all the beautiful fungi you spotted!

    1. I'm in awe Trish! That was a tough walk. We too balk at anything over 5hrs, 3 being our preferred time. Great that we've done a few of the same walks.

  3. Thank you for the blog, very useful! hopefully I will do this walk soon.

    1. You're welcome, it's a lovely walk if you have time to explore along the way too.


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