New Zealand Walk: Walk­ing the Timber Trail in win­ter

Walking New Zealand - - Contents -

If, like us you’re not con­fi­dent bik­ing up or down hills, the Timber Trail makes an awe­some walk, and be­ing a shared trail, has a much more gen­tle gra­di­ent and even surface, than many walk­ing tracks.

We de­cided to walk the first half in Win­ter to en­joy the icy scenery, and be­cause there is a hut not far off the trail where we could spend the night.

We plan to walk the sec­ond half in sum­mer, pos­si­bly in one day, when the days are longer. It was far more fun than we ex­pected. We left our ve­hi­cle at Pure­ora DOC Cen­tre in Bar­ryville Road at 10.00am hav­ing ar­ranged with Pa Harekeke to pick us up at Piropiro in two days time. Al­though it was the mid­dle of win­ter, the track was amaz­ingly dry, with drainage ponds dug at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals. These were frozen over, but as they melted, there were beau­ti­ful re­flec­tions of the ferns and trees above. There were some huge rimus and lots of to­tara and miro.

In the odd ar­eas where the sun never reached, the banks were cov­ered with long ici­cles, frozen grassy clumps and spi­ders webs, and the ground was crunchy. We stopped for lots of pho­tos. Just around the corner in the sun, it was re­ally warm.

Al­though the track goes steadily up, through podocarp for­est this was a bonus at this time of the year be­cause we stayed warm. Dis­tance mark­ers marked ev­ery kilo­me­ter, which we found re­ally help­ful in en­sur­ing we reached Bog Inn Hut be­fore dark.

There was a lit­tle shel­ter at the 8km mark, and then the trail climbed to the high­est point of the track - 980m above sea level. We crossed two long sus­pen­sion bridges be­fore reach­ing the 17km marker. Just past here, was a well marked turn-off to Bog Inn Hut.

This track was very aptly named – nar­row, boggy, full of roots, old logs, tree falls, and pud­dles. It was so dif­fer­ent from the timber trail. But luck­ily we reached the hut in 35 min­utes – just in time to light the fire and cook tea be­fore it was pitch dark - but cozy.

Early morn­ing was beau­ti­ful. Ev­ery­thing was white, thickly coated with ice. The drip­ping tap had left a long ici­cle from the tap to the sink. The pipes of course were frozen, but we’d saved bil­lies of wa­ter.

We set off early be­cause this would be a 29km day – 6km back to the Timber Trail, and 23km to Piropiro by 3.30pm.

Mak­ing our way back over frozen pud­dles and hard frozen track to the Timber Trail was drier and eas­ier to ne­go­ti­ate than wet boggy track of the evening be­fore.

The next sec­tion of track was wider,

along an old log­ging road, with lots of down­hill - some of it quite steep. We were glad to be walk­ing rather than cy­cling.

We met no cy­clists, an­other good rea­son to go in mid win­ter. We wan­dered on, over more bridges, stop­ping now and then for pho­tos and pic­nics, and try­ing to catch the wood pi­geons sit­ting still. They were con­stantly on the move. We heard lots of birds and saw sev­eral fan­tails and 26 wood pi­geons in the two days.

There were lovely open spots giv­ing views of the sur­round­ing coun­try­side. Again the mark­ers were a big help al­low­ing us to reg­u­late our rest spots to make sure we were at Piropiro to meet the shut­tle. We reached a forestry road mid af­ter­noon, and the route went along the road a while be­fore lead­ing off on trail again.

At marker 39, af­ter sev­eral sec­tions on the road, we were dis­cussing whether to stick to the road, or take the trail - and around the corner came the Shut­tle! It couldn’t have been more per­fect tim­ing. We drove on past the lovely new lodge, then back to our ve­hi­cle by just af­ter 4. 00pm.

It was a beau­ti­ful two days - blue skies, no wind, no rain , and the warm sun on our backs. I would en­cour­age any­one who is not con­fi­dent on a bike to walk the trail. We’re look­ing for­ward to the sec­ond half – prob­a­bly in Novem­ber.

Above: Along the trail on a lovely dry track. Be­low left: Trees re­flected in a drainage pond. Be­low right: Bog Inn Hut.

By Barbz Lowther

Above left: In­for­ma­tion sign. Above right: One of the many sus­pen­sion bridges. Above left: The shut­tle - a wel­come sight. Be­low left: A tree trunk cov­ered with growth.

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