Makahika Centre to Te Matawai Hut – 17km (1543km total)
My rest over night was not long enough after yesterday and as I woke at just after 5.30am, I thought it would be good to lie in bed for a few more hours, but alas there was a giant mountain to climb.
Today was the day that I headed into the official Tararua ranges. The first real mountain range of the trip. A taste of things to come on the South Island. The day started off as most days do, with a short road walk to the beginning of the track.
The track started with a short jaunt through some farmland as I freaked out some dairy cows. Then the track meandered up for a few km through lovely forest along the river. I was expecting mud and put my full length gaiters on that morning and there was mud in this section but nothing too bad.
The track then came to a clearing with a couple of different options of routes. The Te Araroa takes the Gable Track towards Te Matawai Hut. At the clearing the elevation is 193m and it goes up to 985m over 5.5km at Richards Knob, so you are pretty much going straight up a hill the entire time and there were a few times I had to throw my sticks aside to pull myself up the track. The track started steep but not too muddy. As I climbed I got hot and was almost going to stop and take off my gaiters, but then the mud started. Again it wasn’t too deep, but it was deep and wide enough to make the track slow going. As I was sloughing it up the hill, I met a Kiwi Father and adult daughter hiking the trail. It was nice to get to know some new people.
It took just over 3.5 hours to do the 5.5km to Richards Knob. It was then only 3km to the hut, but it was a steep muddy down, making me slip on my butt again. Then it was back up again to the hut. In total it was 1100m of elevation gain today, which after yesterdays big day was enough for me. I arrived at the hut around 4pm and was happy to stop, relax, eat and chat for the rest of the night.
At Richard’s Knob, we got enough reception to check the weather. Today was wonderful but tomorrow is not looking good 60-70km per hour winds during the day and 80kph at night with rain. So unless the predicted weather doesn’t come, it looks like we might be spending a day in the hut, until it clears a bit, because I don’t fancy doing a Mary Poppins off a ridgeline.
Today I am thankful for high mountain ranges with expansive views.