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  • Writer's pictureJenny

Blog days 119-123 Rangitata river to Lake Tekapo

Day 119-120 ~ Walked: 0 km ~ Travel to Christchurch and a rest day

The day after finishing on the Whanganui river and completing the North island we flew into Christchurch.

Leaving Taranaki

It was good to see our good friends and stay with Mike and Michelle. They took us out for tea to a local pub and made us feel quite at home when we were sat in a little replica hut in the middle of the restaurant.

Seeing as it was the weekend and there was a long enough good weather window going forward, we spent a rest day and hung out with them some more. Good fun, just like old times. Thanks Mike Michelle and kids.

Day 121 ~ Walked: 16 km ~ Start: Rangitata river ~ End: Forest creek track (equivalent to km 2,350)

Mike kindly offered to drive us down to Geraldine where we were meeting the shuttle taking us to the start of the track. The track begins on the southern side of the Rangitata river from where we finished off before Christmas.

Shuttle trip

The shuttle driver had advised that as river levels were still on the high side we should take the safer Forest Creek track instead. The track runs parallel to the TA track which is along Bush Stream one valley over. We were happy with this after seeing some footage of bush stream from hikers a few days ago. Another TA walker in the shuttle with us took the safer option to.

It was such a joy to be walking again after almost two weeks without, due to waiting out weather, canoeing, and travel.


The first 12km followed the creek upstream. The creek clearly can turn into a raging river at times as the river bed was almost a kilometre wide in places.

We did have to criss cross the water quite a few times but at most it was only knee deep although the current was quite strong in places.

New shoes christening

Finally we turned off at a side stream

then started climbing the mountains we’d been walking amongst all afternoon. It was so steep my calves and achilles were screaming. The first few times I paused for a break I just about toppled backwards due to the angle and weight of my pack. We’ve got some elevation to get through as this section has the highest point on the TA at 1925m (which we hope to cross tomorrow) and we started the day at only 500m.

After two hours of climbing and at around 5pm we decided to call it a day. We’d secretly been hoping we might have made it all the way to Royal hut but realistically we would have got in quite late which we’re not keen on. It was still a good few hours of steep climbing away. And as we climbed higher there were likely to be fewer suitable camping spots as the terrain changes from tussock to scree. As it was, the best we could find was on the track itself at a wide point and it’s on a bit of a slope.

Magical being the only ones here in this massive space

Day 122 ~ Walked: 24 km ~ Start: Forest creek track ~ End: Camp stream hut (km 2,374)

A big day for us climbing up and over two saddles. Firstly Bullock Bow saddle at 1,692m.

Getting higher up these mountains

Bullock bow saddle

Descending from this took us back onto the official TA trail and onto Royal hut where we had an early lunch.

Royal hut

We crossed paths with a group of five nobos and picked up a few welcome tips from them.

Next it was up to Stag saddle at 1,925m - the highest point on the TA. It wasn’t a technical climb and the gradient for the most part was fairly easy going up a river valley.

Reaching the top was so awesome as we got our first glimpse of Lake Tekapo and the mountain ranges including Mt Cook. Unfortunately the wind was cold and bitter so we didn’t hang around to long.

We took the ridge route down and even though it kept us in the cold wind, it was worth it for the continual lake and mountain views.

Track to ridge on the right

Southern alps and head of Lake Tekapo

Down the ridge - TA track in valley to the left

Into the grassy level of the ridge

We made it to the hut after 9 hours. It’s a cute little hut but only had one spare bunk, with 5 other TA section walkers already there.

So I’m having a night on my own in the tent which I’m quite excited about - it’s going to be so spacious!! And at least there’s a flat piece of ground.

Day 123 ~ Walked: 34 km ~ Start: Camp stream hut ~ End: Tekapo (km 2,408)

I had a great night in the tent on my own with room to spread my wings. It was the stormiest night we’ve had to date in the tent and I was a little concerned that just my weight may not have been enough to hold the tent down but it all coped fine.

Another big day but easy walking. We started off descending into a river and following it for some way.

Then a very steep climb out of the river and up into the clouds.

From there on it was plain sailing through flat grasslands.

We followed the length of Lake Tekapo all day. As we got closer to the lake and as the sun came out it got bluer and bluer.

Lunch break

There was a bit of a road walk toward the end but a stereotypical southern bloke (fencing contractor) gave us a ride to within a few km of town where we checked out the sights.

We got to town in time to catch our friend Grant at work and have a cup of tea with him. He lives in Twizel so we’ll be staying with him tomorrow night.

I have really been enjoying our homemade dehydrated meals but they don’t quite compare to restaurant meals.

We’re both feeling it a bit with three hard days after two weeks of no walking so are looking forward to biking the next two days. That’s the TA recommendation as the distances are very long with no camping or accommodation options along the way as it’s all canals.

Day 121 ~ Walked: 16 km ~ Start: Rangitata river ~ End: Forest creek track (equivalent to km 2,350)

Purple shuttle, red our track, yellow TA

Day 122 ~ Walked: 24 km ~ Start: Forest creek track ~ End: Camp stream hut (km 2,374)

Day 123 ~ Walked: 34 km ~ Start: Camp stream hut ~ End: Tekapo (km 2,408)

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26 feb 2022

Some tough days there after your weather enforced time off, but I guess you're back to full peak by now, particularly as I'm some days late with this viewing. Good of you to let Gee take the bunk Jenny. Mike & Michelle look great, retirement is suiting them I think.

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