Te Araroa Trail – Day 92
Wednesday February 7, 2024
Distance/ Total: 16.3 km / 10.1 mi
I had my first wild animal encounter in New Zealand last night. About 2:00am I heard some rustling outside my tent that woke me up. I grabbed my headlamp and fiddled with it to get it on. I looked around and couldn’t see anything. I laid back down and listened for awhile and heard the noise again. I switched on my headlamp and was face to face with a possum after my food. I yelled and he ran away. I checked my tent and saw no damage, I think I caught him early enough.
I didn’t sleep much after that and kept worrying that he would try to tear into my tent to get my food. He never came back.
I didn’t want to get up this morning. I was still tired from not getting a good nights sleep. I finally got around and packed up but it was almost 8:00am before I got on the trail.
The trail started out with a 300m (984’) climb up to Lake Constance. It was a beautifully clear lake and there were great views as the trail led beside it. After climbing up high above the lake the trail dropped back down to the head of the lake and started the ascent up to Waiau Pass.
This was a 520m (1706’) ascent practically straight up the side of the mountain. It was a long grueling climb over boulders, loose gravel, and scree. At one point I was using my trekking poles to hold me in place so I wouldn’t slip backwards walking up a scree slope. I finally reached the top and sat down to eat lunch on the saddle.
Rested and with a full stomach, I began the descent. It started out gradually dropping off the saddle then reached a rocky near vertical section. I looked around to see where the trail went because surely it didn’t go down, but I found the next marker down the steep slope.
I back climbed down the slope groping for footholds with each step. It was a relatively short 40’ section, but the remainder of the 750’ descent was steep and rocky as well. It took a couple of hours to go 2km to the Waiau Uwha River below.
From there the trail followed the river downstream. The trail dropped beside a magnificent waterfall near the beginning of the river section then leveled out as the river continued downstream.
Sometimes the trail was in the trees beside the river and other times on rocky slide areas above it. The last 3km was mostly through meadows and rocky riverbeds alongside the river.
I reached Waiau Hut about 5:30 and found a good campsite in the pine forest next to the hut. The sandflies were terrible here and even with spray on they kept landing on me. Not biting though, the repellent doing it’s job and making them fly off before actually biting me.
I setup my tent, went to the hut to cook and visit with the other hikers and returned to my tent about 7:30 to get ready for a better nights sleep than last night. The sandflies were swarming my tent when I got there and I quickly jumped in trying to minimize the number that came in with me. Despite my efforts I ended up with about 30 sandflies inside. I spent the next 15 minutes killing them so I could get a good nights sleep.