Friday 29 September 2017

A Stunning Walk in the Mountains- Part 2


Continuing on from Part 1

I waved goodbye to David as he left the hut and headed back down the track we'd arrived on, I headed off in the opposite direction, passing the family with the tiny baby arriving back in camp after they'd walked to the summit of Mt Arthur- well not quite to the summit, they said there was too much snow but they'd gone a fair way. Another three trampers arrived just after them, fully laden down with heavy packs; they'd just completed the 28km two day Tableland Circuit and had stayed at the Salisbury Hut the night before. The look of surprise on their faces when they saw all the people at Mt Arthur was priceless. I bet they decided to carry on to the carpark.

Once through the bush that surrounded the hut the track opened up; the mountain rising up on one side and on the other, this stunning view over the bush and the mountain range across to Tasman Bay in the distance.

As I was admiring the view another couple of walkers passed me heading for the hut. Going by the size of their packs they'd be daywalkers, which is just as well as there's no room at the inn tonight. They told me they'd walked about halfway to the summit and had then run out of time so turned back- very sensible tourists.

Shortly afterwards the track split- my track heading off to the right and the summit and another track to the left. As I was taking photos, one of the couples we'd been chatting to at the hut, along with their 4yo daughter, caught me up. The guy had been up here often and talked me into walking up the Summit track a little way because he said, 'the views were spectacular'.

The little girl sat down at the sign and refused to budge, she said was going to wait there until they returned. Eventually she was cajoled and bribed with chocolate into walking further but she 'was only going to the first pole and then she was going back to play with her new friend'. 

The views were indeed spectacular, I'm now clear of the lower mountains and can see all the way to Nelson and Rabbit Island. Mt Arthur Hut is below the point, in the trees.

A little further on and there's a rocky platform overlooking the valley behind.

The track climbed steadily up the exposed rock behind and then dropped a little before it becomes a long steady walk across fairly easy terrain before a short climb to the summit (so the husband tells me). I'm tempted to walk to the top of this rock to see Mt Arthur but decide against it as I'm unsure how my track will be and with no communications, David will start to wonder where I am if I add another 40 minutes or so to my return walk. Another couple appear over the the track is getting like Piccadilly Station!

I'm told by the very helpful husband that my track crosses through those brown patches up to the peak and then drops sharply to the valley floor on the other side.

One hour, 2.6km, mostly downhill. Not far at all, this should be easy.

Immediately after leaving the sign-post the track disappears into a stand of bush. After the lovely manicured track up to the hut, this one is the exact opposite; narrow, root ridden with lots of holes. I'll have to watch my step.

Once out of this first lot of bush, the track gets lost under the snow tussock and when I find sections of it, it's deeply furrowed, uneven and full of water. I have to jump back and forth over the deep track and the water, squelching through spongy bog plants when the tussock disappears. I start to worry that it'll be like this all the way and it'll be slow going. I can see the orange marker poles marching up the ridge ahead of me, I keep one eye on them and the other one on where to next put my feet, and hope for the best.

This cutest little fluff-ball of a Tomtit/Miromiro(male) flitted into say hello to me as I was passing a clump of bush. Either he was cold (the temperature was dropping) or he wanted me out of his territory.

I stop often to look back along the track, the rocky platform I stood on at the beginning is at the base of the exposed rock to the right. I've now crossed a couple of those 'brown patches', the track is still a bog and there's water everywhere. I think it is actually a bog, the water seeping through from the ridge heading downhill.

Then it's back into the next lot of gnarly moss covered bush...

And a little further along, into the open again where I can't stop looking back at the view and the beautiful colours of the vegetation which is especially colourful for New Zealand native bush. Not only are there the purple leaved Mountain Neinei (Dracophyllum traversii) we saw earlier but there's also their smaller cousin the Dracophyllum Longifolium aka Grass tree or Inaka; the copper coloured upright shrubs in the foreground.

Just before I stopped to take photos I spotted a walker heading towards me from out of the bush. She stopped to ask how far it was to the hut, she told me she was going to stop overnight before heading to the summit. I hadn't the heart to tell her that the hut was full.

I pointed out that it wasn't too far, and while explaining where it lay in the bush ahead of her I spotted the hut's roof peeking out of the forest (see blue arrow above, click to enlarge the photo). I zoomed in for a better look below.

Once last panoramic photo of the amazing view before I turned around...

And headed over my 'summit', through one last clearing...

...and down into the bush proper. The track was wet and muddy, full of tree roots and holes with a number of rocks to navigate over and slide down. And even though it doesn't look like it in the photos below, it was a very steep downhill track (actually called a route because it just has tree markers pointing the way), it took a lot of effort to not let my forward momentum get ahead of me and topple me over.

My toes and knees started complaining very early on and after taking these few photos near the top I put my camera away so I could keep my balance better and hold onto trees to swing down banks or slide down muddy patches. It would have been very easy to trip on a root, or twist an ankle on a slippery section, I really needed to concentrate.  It seemed like the track went on and on forever, it got darker and colder and I begun to wonder whether I'd ever get to the end. I kept thinking about the woman I'd seen up on the top, she'd come up this way with her pack, that would have been hard going.

Eventually I could hear voices and children calling to each other but it still took a long while before I finally broke out of the bush above Flora Hut. Two more families with children (and a pushchair) had just arrived at the hut. Sitting on a bank in front of me were another young couple sharing a beer and chatting. 

I wondered how on earth I was going to get down this steep slippery slope because I not only knew my toes would scream blue murder, but I'd likely slip over and slide down on my butt past the now smooching couple who hadn't yet seen me. So I coughed loudly (that startled them) and then stopped to chat for a minute before spying another track through the bush to the side that looked to be heading towards the 4WD track and the way back to carpark. It did end up on the track and it was with great relief when I finally stepped out onto the gravel track. 

I still had 2kms to walk to get back to the carpark but it felt like I was walking on a cushion of air, the 4WD track was such a relief after the continuous pain of my toes being pushed into the front of my boots (even with thick socks) and my knees complaining at every jarring step. In the end it took me 1hr 40min from the start of the track to Flora Hut, I think 20 of those minutes would have been spent taking photos across the ridge but it was a tougher walk than I expected.

David met me half way along the track, he'd been back to the carpark, had a coffee and a snack and then come to meet me. He'd past another three groups of walkers heading to Mt Arthur Hut on his way down. It sure was going to be a busy night up there.


  1. Hi David, Stunning Photos Shellie, some of that signage is new. I will never forget when we were on top of Mt Arthur (and the only people there) a pure white glider appeared and circled around us waving to us on New Years eve...about 20years ago!

    1. Thanks Jimu, it's not hard to take stunning photos of a stunning place! That would have been a once in a lifetime experience...actually two...playing the sax and having the glider appear while on top of Mt Arthur.

  2. Well, I'm impressed, Shellie. I think I would need to be much fitter to do all that trekking around. Great views. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I was impressed with myself too! :) It was a tough descent, sometimes it is easier going up but then you run out of breath and your thighs ache. You just can't win. Glad you enjoyed the blog.


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