Day 66 – 72 – Red Hills Ridge and the Richmond Ranges

I’ll keep this post short and leave it to the pictures to do most of the talking. I packed up 7 days of food for the Richmond Ranges and said goodbye to beautiful St. Arnaud. I stuck out my thumb and the first truck that drove by gave me a ride down the highway 11km to the trailhead. 6km of hiking later, I made it to Red Hills Hut, where I was going to hike the Red Hills Ridge, an unmarked Bush-and-boulder bashing route up to the highest point of the Richmond Ranges (1,790m). There were a couple guys there who said I could not possibly do the hike in less than 14 hours, and then I did it in 8 and a half, lol. It was super brutal, the route was mostly tussock and boulder hopping without any markers, and the rocks were all corroded and as sharp as knives or cheese graters.

At the basin below Red “Hill”, I descended to the valley and walked the rest of the way up to the pass that led to Top Wairoa Hut. I got there around 7pm and had the whole place to myself. Really an extraordinary hike but I would not recommend it to non-masochistic hikers, lol.

The next day, Nora and Jake caught up and we had lunch at the hut and then walked down the Wairoa river to MidWairoa hut. We played some cards all afternoon with another section hiker.

The next day, there was a 1,000m climb up to a nice ridge, and then a walk along it to the Rintoul hut just below one of the hardest sections of the Te Araroa. We stayed the night there.

The following day was an amazing collage of ridge walking, climbing up down and around at least 5 different summits, all above treeline with views of the Tasman Bay in the distance. The best view was certainly just before the descent to Starveall Hut, where the three of us had the whole beautiful place to ourselves.

The next day, I walked down to Hacket Hut (-1,000m) and then back up to the ridge at Rock’s Hut (+700m). Again, I had the hut all to myself, as I was gonna walk out to Nelson 20km tomorrow on the Dunn Mountain trail, while my friends carried on to Pelorus Bridge on the official TA route and then hitched to town.

Finally, the 6th day out of St. Arnaud, the track was a nice graded cycle trail on the ridge of Dunn Mountain, originally a rail track for mining operations. It was really cruisy and I made it to the incredible Honeysuckle house hostel by 3pm.

Now, Nora and I prepare to take on the incredible Abel Tasman beach great walk / inland trail loop. More to come, stay tuned!