Nov 26 day 87 Hamilton Hut to Methven 6:45-1:30 30 km (then hitched into town)
Today was one of those dilemma days the Te Aroroa sometimes throws at you. From Hamilton Hut, there is a campground at about 15 km distance. The next accommodation is the Lake Coleridge Lodge, an upscale place that really wants early booking (and it is 47 km away). After that initial 15 km, all the walking is on a road, and there is no place to freedom camp as it is all fenced farmland. And to confound matters even more, the reason for going to Lake Coleridge Village to start with is that there is where you are supposed to ford the Rakaia River, except now the TA discourages that route, asking hikers to go around via the road at Rakaia Gorge. My solution to all this was to hike out hard this morning from the hut. It was a brisk and windy day, and the trail down Harper River was a 4 wheel drive track that crossed the river constantly. So I spent the morning with wet feet, wading through some cold snow-melt water. I got to the road late morning and kept pushing until I had done about 30 km. Then a man from Christchurch who works with farmers on livestock ID offered me a ride. It was then I decided to go to Methven instead of Lake Coleridge Village. From here, I have been able to resupply and arrange early morning transportation back to the trail head on the south side of the river. I missed seeing Lake Coleridge village, but ended up with a much more reasoned approach to crossing the Rakaia.