A “Tiki tour” is what they call it here, just drivin’ around, stopping and seein’ stuff along the way. The yellow line marks our two-week holiday travels in the south island of New Zealand. There are lots of switchbacks in the roads that the map doesn’t show, snaking its way up and over the Southern Alps.
We left our friends in Nelson and drove over to the mountains, up a steep windy road that gave our car a workout, to the Kahurangi National Park, and, wait for it, yet another hut! This one is near Mount Arthur, and we shared it with a caving expedition. They were pretty serious, exploring the extensive marble caves under the mountain. They were doing an article for New Zealand Geographic and making a film, and planned to camp down in the chilly darkness for several days. I would have liked to chat with them more, but Milo was particularly grouchy so I was busy trying to satiate him.
On the way up to the hut we passed through a really neat grove of “Lorax trees.” I really have no idea what they are, but they look like the Dr. Seuss creations, don’t they?
Thumbs up Milo and Daddy! Usually Milo points his index finger, but the quick transition to a rainy alpine climate means mittens, so thumbs up is easier.
The forecast was for rain the following day and we weren’t sure if we’d be able to walk up to the summit, so we got out for a short walk in the evening to see the views and give Milo a chance to stretch his legs. Here he is, trotting along, happy as a lark. He got grouchy later…
This time the flower photography was also a way to motivate Milo to keep moving forward up the trail. He likes admiring the flowers too, cupping them in his mittened hand and sniffing them.
This looks like an orchid, doesn’t it? It’s miniature, the size of a violet, making me wish I had carried along my magnifying glass to appreciate it properly.
This “pincushion” of buds was so smugly compact and inviting, one of those cushiony humps you find in the alpine zones all decked out in delicate pink finery.
I guess there are some battles you choose not to fight, as a parent. Milo wanted peanutbutter for breakfast instead of oatmeal, and we decided to throw out the dietary ideals in favor of a quiet(er) breakfast.
It was only spitting rain the next morning so we continued our course, though we skipped the actual summit since it was covered in cloud. On a fine day this would be a stunning walk through tussock lands with views to every side.
The caves the group was exploring all start as long vertical shafts, necessitating ropes and climbing skills to reach. The trail description cautioned hikers to stay on the track, least you accidentally find one of those vertical shafts and fall down it.
There are stoat traps all along the trail, some with poisoned bait and some with snap traps. Stoats were imported in an attempt to control the imported rabbit population, but they found the naive ground-nesting native birds to be easier picking. Consequently, Kiwi birds don’t survive where predator populations aren’t aggressively managed. I guess it takes a lot of human effort to combat natural evolution…..survival of the fittest and extinction of those that can’t adapt. We passed this trap and heard scrabbling, a stoat must have been imprisoned by the rock placed by a fellow tramper. Despite the stoats and weasels being the bad guys in Wind in the Willows, my heart went out to this little fellow facing slow starvation, and I kicked the rock aside. Shh, don’t tell.
We enjoyed good views under the blowing clouds.
This bright red lichen reminded me of home. What purpose the brilliant red color has to the lichen, I don’t know, but it sure made me stop and admire it.
Tussockland grandeur. Those assents to high points along the ridge are a lot steeper than they looked….or possibly I’m getting old. From here we climbed down into a forest that looked just like the Fire Swamp in Princess Bride, though my search for ROUS’s was fruitless.
The map in the hut shows the trails we took, first night at Mount Arthur hut and the second night at Salisbury Lodge, then out past the rock shelters via the Salisbury track.
We reached Salisbury “hut” just as the rain started in earnest and spent a cozy afternoon doing a puzzle and reading. The weather must have kept everyone else away, because we had the place to ourselves. To call this place a hut seems a misnomer–it definitely deserves its Salisbury Lodge title. There was even coal for the stove and gas burners.
Just like my own mother, I find puzzles addicting. I only do them on vacation. Milo was interested, and even put in a few pieces (with some help). Actually, Milo slept most of the afternoon on my lap and went to bed early, I think he wasn’t feeling well. Thankfully he seemed better the next day.
Milo enjoys the view while he brushes his teeth. He finds climbing on those benches irresistible. He usually falls off once or twice, but always comes back for more.
We left in a chilly drizzle to walk out to the car, but that was an improvement from the downpour we heard on the hut roof during the night. Thankfully we weren’t headed to Starvation Ridge, ug!
The sun emerged for our walk out, illuminating a lush green forest and path strewn with colored beech leaves. It felt like fall!
I’ve never seen a wood snail this big before! I poked my finger into its shell to feel its door, only to feel slimy black snail–it had no door! Milo was impressed.
There are a couple rock shelters along the trail, this one has an elevated sleeping platform. In good weather these would be lovely, but as it was I was thankful for the Salisbury Lodge with its coal stove.