Trail Log: Karamatura Track to Huia Ridge Track

Alright, here’s the trail log. But let me once again start out with a map so those looking to do the hike can plan their routes effectively:

Check the DOC website for more up-to-date track closure information, assuming that it’s on the website and not just scrawled on a whiteboard leaning against a tree.

I went from the carpark (near the Ranger Station mark on the map) to the falls (not marked on this map, but near where Karamatura Stream crosses the track) then back to the Tom Thumb track, up and around to Huia Ridge then back over Karamatura Track to the carpark again. This is my story.

Annoyingly, the signs don’t have distances written on them so I’ll just be reporting times.

First sign, 11:13am. The time given on the sign is pointless since I’m not returning to the carpark via the Karamatura Loop, so this is only here to give a timestamp.

The next landmark is where the Tom Thumb track branches off. This is also where the loop part of Karamatura Loop hits the main track.

11:37am. It took 24 minutes to get here. This suggests that the estimate of 1 hour for the Karamatura Loop is probably pretty accurate. We can ignore the 40 minute estimate right now because I’m continuing on to the falls (I note that some helpful person wrote in directions to the falls on the sign).

This is where the short spur off to the falls branches from the Karamatura trail. Karamatura Forks is the name given to the intersection of the Karamatura and Huia Ridge tracks, so we will visit there later. Also, it’s a bit out of focus so difficult to tell, but is that a large feather on the ground in front of the sign? Just now noticing that. Anyway…

11:55am. It took 18 minutes to get here from the Tom Thumb branch. This means it’s about a 45-minute walk from the carpark to the falls, which is good information that is not included anywhere on the trail signage. Useless.

Also note that I ate lunch at the falls and generally lounged around for a little while.

12:25pm. Took me 30 minutes to eat lunch, mess about at the falls, and then walk the distance back to the split. It’s downhill on the way back, which explains how I did all that so fast.

At this point I’m beginning the main hike up the Tom Thumb track. It is all very much uphill from this point on until almost the end of the Twin Peaks track.

1:15pm. Took me 50 minutes, which is 10 minutes over the estimated time. This is the first section where the trail just is not very good, so most of that overage was spent picking my way around swampy areas. I was still at this point hoping to get out with a minimum of mud on my person.

Still 1:15. Time to do the Goat Hill track, which is just a there-and-back spur.

1:39pm. Even though Goat Hill is quite steep, the trail is in decent condition and I did it in 24 minutes, 6 minutes under the estimated time. I was pretty winded afterward though!

Still 1:39pm (Actually, I’m lying. This one is 1:15 because I took it before I decided to do Goat Hill and I didn’t take a second one after I finished Goat Hill. But you can see the back of the Goat Hill sign at the top of this photo, so it didn’t take a lot of walking to get between the two signs).

2 hours to the Huia Ridge track. Let’s do this.

Note that Twin Peaks track is <i>the worst</i>. It is muddy and swampy and dangerous. You will get covered in mud and if you’re pushing yourself at all you could easily slip and fall. A walking stick or trail pole is highly recommended.

3:59pm. This point isn’t on the map, but it’s significant because it’s the point where the trail levels out and begins to go down. Note that it’s been 2 hours and 20 minutes of muddy, uphill climbing — so at this point I’ve already gone well over the estimated time on the trail sign. But we’re almost to Huia Ridge.

4:14. 2 hours 35 minutes. That’s 35 minutes over the estimated time, which is annoying (especially when you’re running low on daylight).

1.75 hours to go ’til we get to Karamatura Forks, but the trail is getting better with every km.

5:53pm. 1 hour 39 minutes. But not quite at Karamatura Forks yet.

5:58pm. 1 hour 47 minutes, 2 minutes over the estimate. And that was with me pushing myself.

We have to go along the Karamatura Track and then finish out the Karamatura Loop, but at least the trail is in good condition.

6:55pm. Back to the split off for the falls. Beat the 1 hour estimate by 3 minutes.

7:12pm. Back to the Tom Thumb split. Note that this sign estimates 1 hour to Karamatura Forks, because this sign is a liar.

I don’t have any more photos of trail signs because by the time I got to the carpark I wanted to head out right away to avoid driving through the mountains when it’s totally dark.

So that’s Huia. If the Department of Conservation would add distances to the trail signs and maintain their trails better, they would be doing hikers a service and making the park less dangerous for everyone. If you choose to go there, make sure to leave yourself plenty of daylight and don’t assume you can beat (or even achieve) the posted tramping times.

Trail Log: Lake Sylvan Walk

Alright, the Coastal Track trail log ended up being a bit of a slog because that was a pretty long walk, so hopefully this one will be a bit shorter and sweeter.

(Why is this being posted now and not right after the Lake Sylvan post? Because I forgot it was there. I hope this doesn’t shatter any illusions you have that I’ve got it all together somehow :)).

These signs don’t tell you how many km the trail is, so I’ll just have time information.

First sign. 10:29am. 40 minutes to Lake Sylvan via the normal track, 1.3 hours by the tramway.

Second sign where the track splits from the tramway. I took the track.

10:47am. Took me 18 minutes, which is 2 minutes less than the predicted time.

Third sign at Lake Sylvan.

11:02am. 33 minutes total, so I shaved 7 minutes off the total estimate and 5 minutes off the second leg.

On the way back, I took the tramway. I note that this sign estimates a vague 1-2 hours. We will ignore that and go with the more precise 1h20m estimated by the sign at the trailhead.

Now 11:05am, so it took me all of three minutes to take photos of the lake.

This is the only sign you get, which is where the tramway meets back up with the track.

11:50am. Took me 45 minutes, which is 15 minutes less than the estimate.

And here we are back at the start.

12:06pm. That’s 16 minutes from the last sign (a savings of 4 minutes). Total hike via the tramway: 1 hour 1 minute, for a savings of 19 minutes.

Total hike: 1h37m, including picture taking time.

Trail Log: Abel Tasman Coast Track, Marahau to Anchorage

OK, so this is a new thing I’m trying. As I walked the Coast Track, I took photos of each trail sign. This allows me to use the timestamps on the photos to figure out what time I made along each part of the track. This may be useful for hikers looking to plan their routes!

Unfortunately for this trail log, I only got the idea partway through. So I took a photo of the first sign, the last sign, and then every sign on the way back. This one will be a little more sparse than any future ones.

I also didn’t keep a log of how each section went. I’d like to do that in the future, and feel free to let me know in the comments what would be helpful to know.

(Taking pictures of each trail sign also came in handy when I encountered a group of people looking to know if they had already passed Apple Tree Bay. I was able to look through my photos and determine that, nope, it was still ahead of them. I’m glad I could have been of help!)

First sign, 11:15am. 11.8km to Anchorage, estimated 3h50m. They’re assuming slightly over 3kph.

Penultimate trail sign. 1:25pm. Time since last sign: 2h10m. Distance from last sign: 9.9km. My speed: 4.6 kph.

1.9km to Anchorage, estimated 35m. They’re assuming 3.2kph.

Final trail sign. 1:53pm. Time since last sign: 28m. Distance from last sign: 1.2km. My speed: 2.5kph. (This includes eating lunch. Sorry, I got a little sloppy in my timekeeping there).

11.8km to Marahau, estimated 3h45m. They’re assuming the same time on the return trip, slightly over 3kph.

2:51pm. Time since last sign: 58 minutes. Distance from last sign: 4km. My speed: 4.1kph. (This includes hiding under a rock outcropping for several minutes waiting for a downpour to pass)

7.8km to Marahau, estimated 2h30m. They’re assuming 3.1kph.

3:21pm. Time since last sign: 30 minutes. Distance from last sign 2.3km. My speed: 4.6km (I could do that one in my head :)).

5.5km to Marahau, estimated 1h45m. They’re assuming 3.1kph.

(Legs too tired to crouch and get the sign straight-on, haha).

3:55pm. Time since last sign: 34 minutes. Distance from last sign: 2.6km. My speed: 4.6kph.

2.9km to Marahau, estimated 55m. They’re assuming, you guessed it, 3.1kph.

Ayy, final sign. 4:28pm. Time since last sign: 33 minutes. Distance from last sign: 2.9km (I think this is false, I believe there’s a few fractional km left to Marahau from this sign, but it’s not listed). My speed: 5.2kph (implausible).

Total distance: 22.2km. Total time: 5 hours 13 minutes (including lunch and a significant photo break at Anchorage). Total average speed: 4.25 kph.

As you can see, this is quite an easy trail. There’s a few ups and downs elevation-wise, but no major climbs. A fat American was able to consistently travel over 4kph and do it in well under the estimated time (the sign estimates say it should take 7 hours and 40 minutes, meaning that including breaks I did it two and a half hours faster than the signs estimate).

Route planning advice

I believe based on these data that one could do the entire walk in 2-3 days rather than the 3-5 days estimated. If I were doing the hike, I think I would start at the other end, because that would get the steepest bit out of the way on the first day when I’m the freshest. I could make it the 22.6km to Awaroa without undue hardship, but if I were really pushing it and the tides worked out (there’s a tidal crossing between Awaroa and Waiharakeke Bay) I might be able to power through to Bark Bay, making the first leg 36.1km. If I did that, it would leave time to check out Cascade Falls and Cleopatra’s Pool as I make my way down the 24km to Marahau for a total journey time of 2 days.

Rather than doing either of those options, though, I think the better strategy for a 2-day hike would be to give the huts a miss entirely and make camp at Onetahutl Bay. The extra pack weight of the camping gear would make the trek more difficult, but I think it would make the first leg more pleasant. A 3-day hike would be downright leisurely, and would give plenty of time for checking out some side attractions. The only way the hike would take more than three days is if you spent significant time doing side hikes and messing about in the water.

Whatever you choose, make very sure to plan your crossing of the Awaroa Estuary between Awaroa and Totaranui very carefully, as you have less than a 4-hour window to make it.

I hope this post is useful to someone. Feel free to leave comments about how I could make these more useful in the future. When I’m planning a trip, hearing from someone who’s actually done the things I’m thinking of doing can be invaluable, so I hope I can provide such a service to people intent on checking out the South Island!

We’ll be back to our regularly-scheduled photo blog next post.