New Zealand Walk: Walking the Timber Trail in winter
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.