15. Te Araroa, Twizel to Wanaka

We had glorious weather, views, swims and much more on this part of the Te Araroa trail. Having met up with Stefan in Twizel we shared this section with him and it was a blast!

The first section out of Twizel took us about 45 minutes in a shuttle bus as we couldn’t take any more gravel road walking! Upon reaching the Ahuriri River trail head we laced up and set off into the hills. It was a scorching afternoon and thankfully the trail was well formed and easy to follow. This ensured we progressed pretty well through a wide valley and eventually over a scree covered saddle. The plan was to have a shortish day to be fresh for the following day. So obviously we walked until just before 8pm before pitching our tent. However, we did find a beautiful spot in a beech forested valley right on a small stream.

 

Having a little fun on our 'short day'
Having a little fun on our ‘short day’

 

Gear explosion at our camp!
Gear explosion at our camp!

 

The next day started with a river valley walk, obviously with plenty of crossings and sidling! At one point the track ascended a sheer cliff only to drop back to the river 50m later. We chose to wade down the river for 50m. After sidling the river for 2.5km over sheer drops and precipices we reached the junction that took us up the hardest climb of the TA so far! The map showed an ascent of 500m or so in 2km. God knows what it actually was! Needless to say when we reached the next hut Stefan and I took a short nap.

 

Steep!
Steep!

After lunch we pressed on into the high tussock country. The path was once more a 4wd track so made the going much easier. Upon reaching the bottom of Breast Hill we were faced with decision to either make the ascent or take a shorter direct track to the hut. We um’d and ah’d over this, eventually choosing the summit. Boy oh boy was it worth it! One of the best views of the whole trip. After much photography and general ogling we slowly descended to one of the nicest huts on the trail. To top things off later that evening we climbed the saddle and watched the sun set. What a great day!

 

Tussock country
Tussock country

 

View over Lake Hawea and Wanaka
View over Lake Hawea and Wanaka

 

The following day started with 950m descent down to Lake Hawea. Short and steep is the phrase that probably best sums it up! Anyway, once at the lake we had one of the most refreshing swims (and Paddle Board for Harriet) imaginable, in some of the clearest water we’ve ever seen. After drying off we headed to Hawea in search of refreshments and a place to stay. We found our refreshments at Sailz Cafe. A wonderful spot with great food and cheap beer :-)! After spending a fairly sizeable chunk of the afternoon in Sailz we ambled to the very scenic campsite for another swim and BBQ. Another stella day!

 

Down we go!
Down we go!

 

Harriet enjoying an impromptu SUP
Harriet enjoying an impromptu SUP

 

Beer o'clock at Sailz Cafe
Beer o’clock at Sailz Cafe

 

We took a leisurely start to the day knowing it was a flat 25ish km hike to Wanaka. We followed the Clutha River into Albert Town for a relaxed coffee and cake. It took a little coaxing to get us moving again, but once we were on the trail we enjoyed the easy going track all the way to Wanaka. The walk was actually 30.1km so we justly rewarded ourselves with a spectacular burger from Red Star when we arrived in town. We followed this up after a shower with a few beers at happy hour.

 

Burger time!
Burger time!

We then took an awesome rest day in Wanaka. Including meeting up with our friends Nina, Francois and Katie, visiting Rippon Winery, frisbee, pizza, cinema and freshly baked cookies! After all that, it was definitely time to hit the trail.

 

Frisbee pro!
Frisbee pro!

 

Rest days don't get much better
Rest days don’t get much better

 

Life is good on the Te Araroa. I think we’re getting the hang of this thru hiking! Or, maybe the places we’re visiting and the company we keep is making up for any hardships! Bring on the next section.

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