My kiwi tramping friends laughed when I asked, of course, they said. I know, I know, but I do I need my ‘comfortable when wet” socks on today? Of course. So this is going to be a PROPER kiwi tramp then. They have this idea that the more remote, the better, for Julia, and naturally, they are right.
Destination: West Coast of the South Island, walking up towards (if not all the way to) the Copeland Pass. Starting near Fox Glacier, up we go (18km) to Welcome Flats Hut. I am promised natural hot springs, YES! I am promised beautiful west coast bush YES! Remote YES! Wet feet YES! I dont remember the truly beastly sandflies being mentioned. My feet were badly munched as I foolishly took my socks off on the porch of the hut.
The tramp made us think about the real strength and determination those early pioneers needed, as this on of the first over the mountain routes forged to access the West Coast. Given the terrain, even with a bit of a path and modern equipment, it’s hard to imagine them hacking their way through the bush, having already negotiated the ice and snow higher up. Without knowing what they would find. No wonder they named one of the few flat bits ‘Welcome Flats”.
Alas our plans were foiled when we found the second hut on our route was closed for refurbishment. a rethink was needed, quite hard with no internet access to research or book accommodation. However the emergency I reach device meant Andi could get a message out to Mark to ask for a Friday night booking in Hokitika, which worked out well. Even better, the 17 keas we had left behind in the car park at the trail head, had disappeared on our return 2 days later and mercifully no damage done to the car. These protected birds are just too inquisitive – and destructive – by half!
All this meant we squeaked in a second tramp, walking up the 1,000m of fairly vertical bush path, to Mount Brown Hut. Arriving super early at lunchtime, in pretty grim conditions, we managed to lay claim to 3 of the 4 bunks in the hut, thinking ‘this looks remote’. Only to find by the time night had fallen, about 20 others had arrive in two’s and three’s all pitching their tents around the tussocky mountainside. The hut stove was fabulous, a few hands of bridge, rather too much gin consumed by the now infamous ‘Luke’ – though we did our bit to help him out.
Thanks Gaiter Girls for another memorable tramping adventure: every one is a winner.