Hello from Mountain House Hostel in Arthur’s Pass National Park! It’s been a long time (10 days) since an update because Internet service (or any service for that matter) in these parts was hard to come by! Usually we have at least a cell signal here and there, but we had nada for the last 10 days. And you can probably smell me all the way in the states because this also means it has been 10 days since our last shower!!!
We are actually now at the 2156 Kilometer mark (or 1,380 miles) and I have updates on the 2 sections combined into one here.
Much of the time, we were hiking along (and sometimes crossing) raging, crystal clear rivers in a valley closely surrounded by several majestic mountains, marking the northern end of the southern Alps.
Other times, we were climbing up the majestic mountains. Our 2 biggest climbs were up Travers Saddle (1787 meters, or 5,862 feet) and Waiau Pass (1870 meter, or 6,135 feet). They were both demanding, but so rewarding.
There were a few hot springs in this section and we indulged. We planned to go all the way in, but never made it past our legs! The water was pretty hot!
I love the warning sign: “Amoebic meningitis fatal and caused by water entering nasal passages. Do not immerse head.”
For 25 kilometers, the trail goes up the Deception River to a high point of 1000 meters (3,280 feet) at Goat Pass, then down the Mingha River. The trail was a mix of rock scrambling and crisscrossing the Deception River (21 times to be exact). It was actually quite fun! And extremely beautiful with all the cascading water against the green landscape within the gorges. The Minga-Deception Route is actually part of the Coast-to-Coast Race. Racers typically take 3 hours to do this section, but it took us 11 hours split into 2 days! Here’s a video of our second day with some early morning crossings via headlight.
For the next section through Arthur’s Pass National Park, the huts were fine, but there were mice galore. Apparently NZ is experiencing a mast year, which means the beech trees have more seeds than usual, thus attracting mice, rats, stoats and other rodents. There are often lots of traps/poison set in the forests for these guys, but this section is a “controlled” area, meaning they don’t set traps to see the impact. That said, there is an exploding population of mice in the area.