5 weeks on the South Island

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5 weeks on the South Island

Postby J M » Fri 09 Jun, 2017 12:38 am

Hi all, I'm after a few tips and pointers for an upcoming trip to the Sth Island next January/February.

I jumped on some cheap flights and now have 5 weeks to play around with and I'm planning on fitting in lots of walks while I'm over there. I was wondering if anyone has some tips on the best combo of walks to do in this time (ie. some great walks, maybe some lesser known walks as well?). I'm keen to do a good range while I'm over there so am looking at everything from the coast to the mountains. I'm reasonably experienced and can handle myself if things turn to rubbish but would prefer walks without excessive navigational difficulty and I'm happy with rough terrain/big days of climbing etc.

Following on from this, any tips on transport and food options over there? While looking into everything I've realised I'm so used to being able to drive to a walk and eat home dehydrated meals that I forget there's another way to do it! Any reasonably priced store-bought dehy meals available easily over there?

And last but not least, I'd prefer to only take over trail runners rather than my heavy boots. This has worked for me in Aus with a decent pair of socks but I'm well aware that there is a copious amount of rain over there so I'm a little concerned about mud. Has anyone had any experience in this regard?

Thanks for any info you can pass on, or links to threads I haven't picked up on :)
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby oldmanwalking » Fri 09 Jun, 2017 8:16 am

I might suggest doing Mount Tapuaenuku, from the Hodder River and the Hodder huts.....but not sure of the weather conditions, so best you check first, and also you'd need permission from Alan Pitts at Gladstone Downs station to cross his land.......its a great trek as long as you don't mind getting your feet wet.

Or there's the Travers-Sabine circuit......another great multi day walk with great views. Start and finish at St Arnaud....!

Or another favourite of mine is the Caples and Greenstone tracks just outside of Queenstown.....if you want to venture that far south.

As with all NZ treks......its all about the weather.....but I guess you know that already.

Have fun

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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby wayno » Fri 09 Jun, 2017 8:41 am

check with DOC about the Kaikouras, theres extensive slips from earthquake damage, blocking numerous routes.
dehy is available around the country
have to do your homework on the routes, some routes can have extensive amounts of mud, too many to mention.
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby J M » Sat 10 Jun, 2017 12:57 am

Thanks for those suggestions, I'll definitely have a look into them
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby wayno » Sat 10 Jun, 2017 4:25 am

at the top of the where to start in nz thread is the list of doc walks, they grade them according to difficulty, the harder the grading often theres a good chance there will be mud and tree roots to walk on
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby Walk_fat boy_walk » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 2:12 pm

oldmanwalking wrote:Or there's the Travers-Sabine circuit......another great multi day walk with great views. Start and finish at St Arnaud....!

^^^ Thoroughly recommend that one (make sure you divert to Lakes Angelus, Constance and Blue Lake if you do it).

Tons of options down south... as mentioned the Greenstone-Caples is good. I really like the Rees-Dart/Cascade Saddle area, and the Great Walks get a bad rap - they generally are nice reward for modest effort (I think the Routeburn is the pick of them but they're all pretty good). Wilkins-Young and Dusky are on my "to do" list so I can't say much about them, but might be worth looking into.

Can fit a lot into 5 weeks... a bit jealous.
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby J M » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 10:27 pm

The Travers-Sabine circuit has most definitely made it onto my to do list, it looks amazing (along with the Routeburn and basically everything else). The Rees-Dart track area looks beautiful as well, has anyone walked over to Dart Glacier? I'm aware everything is very dependent on the conditions at the time of course but is the track itself reasonable to follow?

Walk_fat boy_walk wrote: Can fit a lot into 5 weeks... a bit jealous.


I'm pretty excited! Lots of logistics to work out (trying to do this trip on a poor uni student's budget is a little stressful) but it's shaping up to be a fantastic trip :D
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby wayno » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 4:18 am

yup and in january and february on those tracks the huts are overloaded with people. routeburn is booked out, nelson lakes is ALIVE with wasps in summer.
I've never heard of anyone walking the Dart glacier, it's extremely broken up.
theres thousands of kilometres of tracks in NZ and 900 huts, but people only talk about the same few overloaded tracks all the time.... you'll travel past more tracks than you can do getting to the ones you do do.... do some homework,
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby J M » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 10:04 am

Cheers Wayno, I definitely prefer walking with fewer people around so I'll be having a look into quieter walks. I wasn't thinking of actually walking on the glacier, rather I've heard you can do a day trip out from Dart hut just to have a look at it.
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby wayno » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 10:30 am

J M wrote:Cheers Wayno, I definitely prefer walking with fewer people around so I'll be having a look into quieter walks. I wasn't thinking of actually walking on the glacier, rather I've heard you can do a day trip out from Dart hut just to have a look at it.


the dart hut is one of the most overloaded huts in NZ in summer, can have twice the no of people to bunks.... because of the day trip to the glacier and cascade saddle which get thrashed in the media.
the routeburn track summer dates get sold out in a few hours online
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby Walk_fat boy_walk » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 11:05 am

wayno wrote: nelson lakes is ALIVE with wasps in summer.

Not sure if that's still the case? I know it was a real problem, particularly around Sabine Hut, but DOC have done a lot of work in eradicating them. I was there last summer and don't remember seeing a single wasp?

wayno wrote:theres thousands of kilometres of tracks in NZ and 900 huts, but people only talk about the same few overloaded tracks all the time.... you'll travel past more tracks than you can do getting to the ones you do do.... do some homework,

Yeah... but... they're popular for a reason, and coming from O/S you want to see what the fuss is about. Eg as an ex-pat Tasmanian I'm well aware some of the best areas are off the beaten track, but would never begrudge someone new to the state doing the OLT or Frenchmans first to get a feel for the area. Seems to be a lot of trying to talk people out of doing the popular routes? (In any case I've done T-S and R-D in summer and it wasn't *that* busy, although I'm sure it varies... Great Walks a different story but still have their charms, as long as you can get on them).

J M wrote: I wasn't thinking of actually walking on the glacier, rather I've heard you can do a day trip out from Dart hut just to have a look at it.

Can definitely walk up to the terminus of the glacier for a look, maybe 3-4 hours return from Dart Hut (double that if doing return trip to Cascade Saddle). In fact (subject to conditions and river level) I think it's nicer to walk along the river bed than the Cascade Saddle track, as long as you know where to rejoin the track.
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby newhue » Sun 09 Jul, 2017 6:12 am

Lewis pass to St Arnard. A nice little 5 to 7 day walk where you most likely won't find another. If you can navigate, and don't even have to be great at that you will make it. River crossings, cable crossing, a pass with perhaps some easy snow, and a good scree climb. Gorges, deep blue water, moss forrest, tree routes, grass plains, some beautiful huts, great tent sites, long open ridges, some good climbs, and decent, ice cold baths and you don't have to haul water. Best of all few people, isolated serenity, and the freedom of big beautiful mother nature. Probably should not be posting this actually.

Doc have awesome resources. Their online topo maps are excellent. Walk info is great, and the net then usually fills the gaps. Navigation is pretty easy as NZ on the whole as they only has river beds and passes to follow. Its hard to get lost but certainly not to be taken lightly either, as there is plenty of stuff to kill you in NZ. Don't underestimate elevation and steepness. But to design a walk to your own difficulty desire, isolation, and length is not that hard. There is so much of NZ which is the real great walk, and its all their ready and waiting.
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby wayno » Sun 09 Jul, 2017 7:08 am

the te araroa trail goes from te anau to lewis pass and it does get busy in summer, now, hundreds did it last year could well top a thousand this summer, most go through overa few weeks, the huts get packed.
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby newhue » Sun 09 Jul, 2017 8:47 am

wayno wrote:the te araroa trail goes from te anau to lewis pass and it does get busy in summer, now, hundreds did it last year could well top a thousand this summer, most go through overa few weeks, the huts get packed.


Oh dear, it has been a while and things have obviously changed. Can't see Bob's hut coping or having the same charm ever agin. I guess the Te Araroa trail is in the cluster of being another cash cow trail for NZ.

I once did a great walk, though the scenery was nice the experience was rubbish. Hordes of people all day, along the ridges, in the huts, choppers fling in the wealthy, lazy, or time rushed. I wondered if fresh water may become a thing of the past in places. But 70 people in a hut with what seemed like endless plastic bags rustling all night long, then well up before light to catch the sunrise..rustle rustle rustle, was less than great. I have to accept I was green and making the numbers up, but it seemed pretty ordinary for the money paid, and that was over a decade ago. I guess for me its no wonder I see a good quality tent, map, and compass as heaven on earth. Still the cash cows have their purpose for the user, government, and ultimately people on NZ.
I'm just grateful NZ has lots more to offer in the way of back country experiences, and the freedom to let me find it and avoid the cash cows.
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby wayno » Sun 09 Jul, 2017 9:25 am

newhue wrote:
wayno wrote:the te araroa trail goes from te anau to lewis pass and it does get busy in summer, now, hundreds did it last year could well top a thousand this summer, most go through overa few weeks, the huts get packed.


correction, "st Arnaud to Lewis pass".. not Te anau.
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby madpom » Mon 10 Jul, 2017 1:24 pm

Bob's Hut is safe for now. Te Araroa goes down the Waiau not the Matakitaki.
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby mbatch » Fri 15 Sep, 2017 1:11 pm

G’day J M,
I’m pretty late to the party and probably muddying waters here but here goes. Good for you having 5 weeks but others have mentioned you could do a lifetime and not be done with NZ. I’ve done about a dozen walks and have the same again to do to die satisfied. The track and hut system over there is truly gold star.
As others have mentioned January is pretty busy usually given school hols and Europeans coming down as well and the weather can be a bit funny so I’ll give you a list of ideas across your spectrum. My outdoor life has sort of been bookended by NZ walks, I did a bunch a billion years ago when over there climbing (young and fit as) and the past 3-4 years pack rafting (old and fat) .. for mine the Alps are the most rewarding and different from what you might find in Oz. Wayno’s suggesting on visiting his excellent links page is a good one and yeah I’d imagine the Great Walks might be full (the ones I did are pretty good but have been manicured to within an inch of their lives and not reflective of some of the other tracks.), anyway, north to south, always worth checking with DOCs for track changes etc:

- Abel Tasman; Great walk so needs booking, pretty nice but probably better to sea kayak that coast? Just as good coast walks in Oz but in case the weather is really foul down south worth keeping in mind. Through walk but should be an easy hitch back
- Travers – Sabine. Nice sub alpine walking up a couple of valleys and a pass, others have commented on it already. Almost circuit (I think)
- Another one similar but easier and closer to Christchurch is the St James walkway. I didn’t do it all rather paddled out when we hit the Waiau (another almost circuit)
- Out of Arthurs pass I have done another couple of pack raft trips that could easily make walks. One being the Poulter River via Andrews Saddle for a nice two day circuit trip if weather is marginal. The other was a lot more rugged and really nice. The Harman Pass route, well-marked but needs decent weather, through route but should be an easy hitch back
- I did the Copland out of Mt Cook area back in the day and it was great but you do need ice gear and it can be dangerous
- This year I pack rafted the Landsborough , great trip and there are some nice walks into the Huxley valley area as you can’t get out of the Landsborough easily without a boat
- Cascade Saddle into Rees valley. This was my favourite walk and has it all. I tacked on Mt Earnslaw when I did it (on my own). You want to take it carefully and only in good weather for the whole thing as the snow grass slopes are pretty lethal. Absolute cracker though if you and the weather are up to it.
- Routeburn / Greenstone: my first walk !. Gorgeous but will be hard to get on
- Kepler : a nice mellow intro to Fiordland walking , Great walk so needs booking
So many more out there, these are just the ones I have personal experience of, there all well enough marked (from ‘you could ride a bike on this’ to ‘oh there is the next marker’) and alwasy on a track of some description

Regarding transport I reckon just hire a car. With 5 weeks you’re bound to want to move around for the best weather. Whilst bus services are good it can be restrictive on times and may work similar cost wise to a rent a bomb type deal. Hitching can be pretty slow but is doable.

I’ve mostly used low cut trainers or approach shoes for my trips, my ankles are pretty shot now though! I take trekking poles these days to help them out

You can get de-hyd in Christchurch at the gear stores, think one of eth main brands is actually Kiwi, otherwise take it over with you if you have spacebut check their customs website Itook over foodstuff last trip without problems
Hope this helps and have a great time
Mick
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby wayno » Fri 15 Sep, 2017 2:46 pm

copland pass is dangerous now due to erosion... fitzgerald pass is the alternative and requires alpine experience and good fitness and navigation skills. its a rough route and not a well marked track
cascade saddle is a good weather track only, dangerous when wet, and need reasonable fitness.
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Re: 5 weeks on the South Island

Postby J M » Sat 23 Sep, 2017 11:01 pm

Thanks mbatch and wayno. I've pretty much locked in Travers-Sabine and I've booked onto the Routeburn. It looks like I'll be doing a bit of kayaking around the Abel Tasman NP area as well. And dropping in around Mt. Cook area (not for any serious mountaineering unfortunately). Getting keener by the day even though it's still a while away
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