Last week Ali and I took to the hills to inspect the accumulated winter damage on the Hump Ride track and lodges, and complete the second stage of GPS marking from Stag Point to Port Craig.
Later in the day we would be joined by Hump Ridge Trust Treasurer, Les Johnston, as well as Johan Groters and Joyce Kolk (of Wairaurahiri Jet) for a well-earned steak supper and a few obligatory tinnies. The next day we would all continue the journey, checking stoat traps and marking points of historical note along the tramway approach to Port Craig. Hopefully this will eventually lead to the creation of an interpretative information leaflet for the Percy Burn to Port Craig tramway walk.
Happily, we managed to miss the winter storms that battered the south coast either side of our trip, and had two glorious days’ on the track. Neither lodge had suffered much winter damage, track repairs being limited to windfall and mud removal: a big relief for Ali! Johan and Joyce also found a large haul of stoats and rats in their traps – fantastic news for their ongoing trapping operation.
On a less positive note, our trip also brought us face-to-face with the dark side of tourist trampers in New Zealand. While Ali and I were checking over the Okaka lodge, a young male tramper wondered in carrying an enormous pack, wearing jeans, a cotton t-shirt, flimsy canvas trainers and with very little food to last the trip. He (who will remain nameless) had set out from Rarakau at noon the previous day, was unable to reach Okaka before nightfall and had bivvied at Stag Point. He had no map, no adequate wet-weather kit, no locator beacon and no mobile phone, had left no notice of intentions, had not registered with the Hump Ridge Track to undertake the walk, and had not told anyone of his whereabouts.
Ali and I warned the tramper of the foolishness of his actions to date but he was determined to continue around the track. Having been briefed on the track and its condition, he set off – promising to notify us after he had got off the track. It was with considerable relief that the tramper came into the office a few days later, cold, exhausted, extremely hungry and with feet covered in blisters from his inadequate footwear.
This tramper’s negligence not only endangered his own life but could have resulted in considerable financial and emotional repercussions if a Search and Rescue operation had become necessary. More than likely, though, as the young man had not notified anyone of his intention to walk and had no means of calling for assistance in case of difficulty, rescue (and even recovery) would be extremely unlikely if he had walked off the track.
Sadly, this incident put a severe damper on our lovely two days on the track. Please, if you are coming to New Zealand and plan to go tramping, bring adequate kit/supplies and tell someone where you are going (and when you return). Don’t become the next statistic.
Written By Kate Hebblethwaite, Operations Manager, Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track
For a short lodge description, see our last post
We are lining up volunteer helpers for our lodges throughout summer. This is a great opportunity for you to get away from it all for a couple of days to week or so and meet other like minded people walking the track.
Our remote lodges are in a totally different category to DOC huts. Each lodge has a modern gas fire to keep the lounge nice and toasty plus and optional hot showers and premium rooms with super kingsize beds available to freedom walkers – we are the only walking track in Fiordland that offer this service and as the word gets out, its getting more and more popular!
Our lodge at Port Craig is on the edge of Te Waewae Bay on the south coast. A couple of minutes bush walk to Mussel Beach we have a resident family of Hector’s Dolphin and amazing sunrises. In the 1920’s Port Craig was a remote sawmill community. Many artefacts and of course huge viaducts still remain for you to read about and explore.
Okaka is an alpine wonderland! Spectacular 360 degree views from the nearby loop track of the coast, Te Waewae Bay, Stewart Island, Solander Islands, and of course Fiordland mountains and lakes. Absolutely breathtaking. The loop track winds around alpine tors and tarns and beautiful native gardens. Deer are often seen from the lodge balcony.
Generally these days you have to pay to volunteer right?! Not with us – as long as you are happy to walk between lodges you can experience our paradise for FREE this season – and food is included! All we ask for is a couple of hours helping per day – what a deal… get in quick, our volunteers last season loved it!
“I just have taken another look at my pictures and thaught of you! THANK YOU for the nice time as a volunteer. I miss my time in New Zealand and wish to be there now in winter :)” Kerstin, Germany
Contact Kate, our operations manager for more information on this once in a lifetime experience.