The next two days consisted of the Two Thumb Track, my favourite stretch so far. We kicked its butt getting in and out in two days but it wasn’t a rushed tramp. The scenery was gorgeous and both days were spent sunrise to sunset taking in the views. The first day Matt and I were alone hiking. We passed a couple of other trampers along the way but the feeling at the top of our first saddle being able to see for miles in every direction with not a soul in sight was unreal and absolutely beautiful. We could not have asked for better weather and of course as it was just a two day stretch, our packs were light from lack of food. I did carry a pack of Oreos as a treat though.
Day One: Trailhead to Royal Hut (24 km)
Three sections of 4 hours, 5 hours, 2 hours. Total DoC time was 11 hours. Matt and I pumped it out in 8. We spent most of the morning alone climbing to the first hut where we noted 9 people had been last night! This had us a bit nervous about bunk space in the hut we planned to go to. Not too nervous though, we knew trampers were always ready to make room for other trampers.
After the initial climb to the hut, we climbed to a saddle of 1500m. Not a soul in sight, the views were stunning.
After that, it was up and down up and down through tussock to reach Stone Hut, only 2 hours further to get to our destination hut for the night. Along the way we passed 3 other trampers who had stayed at the first hut the night before. From Stone Hut to Royal Hut we followed Bush Stream the entire way, passing four other trampers along the way.
When we arrived at the hut, Brad and Jess were so excited! They had been there for a couple of hours but we were the first to come from the North other than them. There was one other couple there from Czech Republic who were super friendly and experienced trampers. They brought along a flask of homemade plum vodka for us to try. We also had a Backcountry Meal Apple Pie to dig into!
Sunset at Royal Hut was stunning and after an amazing day of hiking, I think I was at one of my happiest moments while on the T.A.
Day Two : Royal Hut to Lake Tekapo Village (48 km)
Day two and we were up at 6:00am ready to tackle Stag Saddle. Stag Saddle is the highest point on the Te Araroa trail at 1925m. We had heard it was a relatively easy climb but we were eager to saddle it! We had also decided we would most likely walk into Lake Tekapo by the evening so we got an early start to get going the 48km.
The moon hung around while the sun kissed our valley in a gorgeous golden light.
Before we knew it, we were on top. Jumping, dancing, freezing (so windy so cold so high) and snapping photos of our accomplishment.
I made a point to make sure I got the highest.
To make our way to the next hut, we chose an unmarked route across scree and large boulders and then up onto a tussock filled ridge with views for miles of Lake Tekapo and the snowy mountain range to our right.
At Camp Stream Hut, we had our first lunch of the day and discovered an exciting surprise on the back of the hut door. Ooooooooooooo Canada, our home and native land! ??
We walked 18 more km along the Richmond Track with constant views over Lake Tekapo.
We then wound up on Lilibank Rd where we walked the last 16km into town. Road walking we can average up to 6km an hour so it usually passes by quickly. However, when you ALL run out of water and there are no streams to filter, 16km on road in NZ sun can become a nightmare. Despite the dehydration we survived so we’re over it now.
Et voilà! Lake Tekapo Village. We planned to spend three nights, two days in Lake Tekapo because at the last minute I was able to arrange with my childhood bestie, Olivia, to meet up with us. She’s been travelling New Zealand for 6 weeks and has constantly been in places we’ve gone about a week ahead of us. She was able to make it out for a night and it was so great to see her. It was the first bit of real home I’ve had in nearly eleven months here.
In Lake Tekapo, we’ve indulged in cinnamon buns, brownies, eggs Benedict, fresh veggies and spent two stormy nights in a glamping tent.
Then due to a major miscalculation in the next days walk, we are in Lake Tekapo for a 4th night. We are never leaving Lake Tekapo. Some major rest and relaxation happening right now. But seriously, I need to leave Lake Tekapo. We need to walk. Counting down the minutes to tomorrow morning when we hit the trail again.
Its not all too bad though. The blog is now up to date.
Ok Anna, time to uphold your end of the deal. 😉
Bonus photo of Mt Everest climbers Jess and Brad eating Nutella on top of Stag Saddle.
Total kilometres walked so far: 2369 km