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Flooding Whitcombe River

Exercise in frustration—Summer 2017

My summer of 2017 was a number of lessons in frustration.

My plan after spending the previous summer traipsing all around Kahurangi National Park was to attempt an east to west crossing of the South Island. On tracks I hadn’t get traversed.

There is an obvious, at least to me, route that avoids populated places for the most part while maximising the new huts to visit. There are probably easier routes, choosing Harper Pass takes a considerable effort from the crossing for instance.

Where to start?

Kaikoura of course. Then linking up with Marlborough’s East-West route to the upper Waiau River. From there Boyle Village was easy enough. I’d head parallel to Te Araroa, via Lake Christabel to Arthurs Pass, and then continue west on a series of tracks, and pop out on the Whitcombe River near Hokitika Gorge.

A plan. Even a Good Plan.

Except the Kaikoura Earthquake intervened.

Simple enough, reverse the route. West to East.

This traded a gentle easing into the walking on the long flattish Marlborough valleys for the super steep West Coast river valleys, where tracks are sometimes replaced by the instruction: Just follow up the river.

Blog from Stage One.

On the second day of my summer adventure I was stopped by rising flooded Whitcombe, my most scary river, and my pack ended up in said river. Fortuitously it swept into an eddy, and I managed to rescue it. But then I had a night in a soaked sleeping bag and tent in pouring rain.

Shortly after I dried out back in Nelson, the road to Kaikoura opened and I set out as originally planned. Blog from Stage Two.

Later in the damp summer I spent three nights in the Lake Christabel Hutt as it poured down, and my enthusiasm for off-track walking ebbed.

Instead of continuing as planned I hitched around to the Lewis Pass and walked back to Nelson.

Blog from Stage Three.

Frustrated? You could say that.

But as I’ve said before it’s how you overcome life’s problems that construct you as a person.

I didn’t mind striding out on Te Araroa once again as I made my way back to Nelson.

author | GJ Coop | posted | 01 May 2017
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