Te Araroa Trail – Day 126

Tuesday March 12, 2024
Distance/ Total: 29.5 km / 18.3 mi

Shaun and I were up early to catch an 8:00am bus to the start of the Routeburn Track. The Routeburn Trail is not part of the official Te Araroa Trail, but is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. By linking the Routeburn Track and the Caples Track together we will add 2 days to our trail and see some of New Zealand’s greatest scenery.

The Routeburn track started by crossing the Route Burn River and beginning a gradual descent up the valley. The trail was pristine, wide, and a very nice gravel trail. We soon reached the junction to Routeburn Flats hut and ate breakfast there.

Back on the trail the ascent became much steeper as the trail headed up to Routeburn Falls. The falls were phenomenal, but we still had a lot more elevation to climb to reach Harris Pass. As we continued up the valley Harris Lake became visible below us. The lake was nestled in between rocky peaks and was a gorgeous site to see.

As we climb mend toward the pass it began to sprinkle and then eventually became a light rain. We reached Harris Pass about 1:00pm in the rain and continued on hoping to drop down into the valley to escape the wind.

Unfortunately for us that was not where the trail was headed. It stayed up on the side of the mountain and I’m sure there were some nice views across the valley, but we were immersed in the clouds and could barely see 100’ in any direction.

Rounding the mountain Lake Mackenzie and Mackenzie Hut came into view in the valley below. It was a long steep downhill through the forest to reach the hut. We stopped at the hut to get out of the rain and eat some lunch (at 3:30pm).

Finishing lunch we had about 3 hours of hiking left to reach Greenstone Saddle campsite. The trail was a steady climb upwards with some high rock steps in place but overall a good trail. We were both surprised to round a corner and see Earland Falls. At 174m (571’) it was difficult to even get a photo of the falls.

Pushing onward we reached our campsite at dusk and still in a light rain. We setup our tents and crawled inside just in time to miss the heavy rain and winds that came in that night.

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