Dec 7 day 98 Ahuriri River to free camp on ridge above Timaru River 7:15-5:15 30 km (+4 walk up road to trailhead)
Recipe for hiking on South Island: Start day hiking up narrow valley, probably crossing a cold stream often, climb all morning to reach a saddle at about noon, then descend into a new river valley following riverbed with regular climbs to ridges above. Repeat for two or three days, then a day of road walking to a town on or near a lake, then repeat it all again. The main variation on that formula today was surface. The first 2/3rds of the day, including crossing Mount Martha’s saddle, was on a farm track then a bulldozed road. Not smooth but easy to follow. Still the climb was a beast, and the wind (with snow) on top was tough. The other 3rd was back in the forests much like on the north island — very narrow sidling above steep banks and climbing over lots of downed trees. Got to Top Timaru hut at 1:30– a brand new well-made little hut, would love to have stayed there, but was too early to call it a day, so went to the woods and then went slogging in the Timaru River the rest of the afternoon. Should get to Lake Hawea Village tomorrow. Sleeping near a small waterfall tonight.