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  • Writer's pictureJenny

Days 147-149 Birchwood to Colac Bay

Day 147 ~ Walked: 26 km ~ Start: Birchwood ~ End: Merrivale (km 2,889)

The sun doesn’t actually rise to 7-45 in these parts at the moment. As we were road walking a few km to start with we didn’t want to set out to early so enjoyed the changing colours of the sky across the farm from our cabin instead.

After the road walk we were along side some newly planted plantation of eucalyptus?

and through paddocks then suddenly going up a very very steep fence line in a paddock. There were cows initially in the paddock but it got so steep only the sheep remained at the higher levels. At one point there was a cow crying out for (presumably) her calf on the other side of the fence. That calf was also crying back even though it was with another cow and calf. We didn’t want to get in between the cow and her calf so did a bit of a detour around. She seemed quite unhappy with our presence so we had to keep a wary eye. It probably made me get up that bit of hill a bit quicker than usual though.

Quad bike that couldn’t handle the slope and anxious cow in background

The rest of the days walk was split between pine forests,

farms and roads so all pretty easy walking. It was mainly on forestry roads though the pine except for a dead looking section (although they were green on top),

and a more dense section where we managed to lose the path for a bit and had to bush bash around for a while.

We continue to be surprised to see nobos heading north at this late stage in the season. We saw three today (a couple from golden bay, and a French guy). They all seem quite prepared with their gear for the winter conditions which is good. The French guy even had ice pick and crampons.

We stayed at a cute little private cabin on a farm on the trail. The highlight was having some fresh eggs available, so we boiled a few each to have for our breakfast and next couple of days lunches.

Day 148 ~ Walked: 28 km ~ Start: Merrivale ~ End: Martins hut (km 2,917)

We headed into our last forest section of the TA today - the Longwoods. Infamous in the TA community for its atrocious mud. I’ve seen recent photos and we spoke in person to someone who have been waist deep in the mud so we were preparing for the worst.

We were pleasantly surprised to find the first 8km and the majority of the days climb was on forestry roads with a comfortable gradient. The forest was predominantly eucalyptus and a lot had been harvested and stockpiled - presumably waiting for the price to rebound.

The rest of the day alternated between beech forest

and the open tops. The hills were very undulating so nothing to steep for very long. We summited bald hill and little baldy.

We were very excited to have our first definite sighting of the coastline, both Oreti beach that we’re to walk and the coast to the west of that.

I hope we don’t have to walk against the wind that blew this up here from bluff

We came across another nobo who we had a great chat to. She was very inspirational and we chatted for ages.


As for the mud we found the majority of it was easily avoided by walking to the sides of it. The worst sections had little side tracks bypassing which we took. A few sections we had to undertake a bit of tree gymnastics swinging around holding the branches. But we got through without mud completely engulfing our shoes or legs. It has probably helped that Southland is in the midst of their longest drought in 28 years.

We’ve had worse before

As we’re nearing the end of our trip we’re noticing all our ‘lasts’. Today is our last:

  • day without shower

  • 10 hour day

  • big hill

  • hut

  • dehydrated meal

We’re very excited about all of these, apart from the meals I’m not over yet. I’ve loved all our homemade ones. We’ve had good variety and they feel real. I keep forgetting to take photos of them but did remember half way through tonight’s.

Chicken, mushrooms, peas, mashed potatoes and gravy

I actually really enjoyed our mud avoiding and the picking out of route through. It was similar to a lot of the sidling routes but this had the benefit of being on flat ground. I like the challenge of finding the stepping stones through or around it. Even though it was a huge day both km, and time wise, because there were no huge climbs I felt like I could keep going. I was happy once we reached the hut but hadn’t been desperately hanging out for it like usual.

The hut was a very rustic 1905 edition and not overly welcoming. Lucky we got in late and weren’t hanging around long before bed time.

Day 149 ~ Walked: 17 km ~ Start: Martins hut ~ End: Colac bay (km 2,934)

Our last day in the forests today. Also just had our last night in a sleeping bag and last use of a long drop toilet. Life is getting good. Walking through the beech forest though I was a little sad to say goodbye to all the friendly robins, fantails and tomtits that we are used to having following us around. Also the bell birds that we hear more than we see.

We also startled a deer shortly after leaving the hut and it scampered away. It’s currently deer hunting season so Gerard has had his pack cover on for extra visibility the last day or two. There have been heaps of reminders on this recently from meeting the hunters around Mavora lakes, to hearing two gun shots echoing through the valleys when packing up camp at Telford to hearing the huge roaring of the deer being farmed in paddocks just before entering the Longwoods.

We were happy to finally have a shorter day on the agenda today after a big continuous run of 10 hour days. And the track was fairly comfortable as mostly downhill and similar to yesterday with mud puddle negotiating. This section also had a lot of old goldmining shafts and water races.

There was a derelict hut that we planned to have our morning tea stop at. I was curious as to it’s condition compared to Martins which was deemed to be functional. To be honest there was very little difference at all. The ‘derelict’ one even had mattresses in it.

Turnbulls hut

We were out of the forest by lunchtime and after eating our lunch in the car park walked the 5km road into Colac Bay.

It was great arriving with heaps of time to have a good shower, wash clothes, and relax before the tavern opened up for our pre dinner drinks then dinner of blue cod and chips. The side salad even had condensed milk dressing. YUM.

Just three days to go now to Bluff and all beach, coast or road walking. Bring it on!!

Day 147 ~ Walked: 26 km ~ Start: Birchwood ~ End: Merrivale (km 2,889)

Day 148 ~ Walked: 28 km ~ Start: Merrivale ~ End: Martins hut (km 2,917)

Day 149 ~ Walked: 17 km ~ Start: Martins hut ~ End: Colac bay (km 2,934)

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