Te Araroa South Island: Part II Ship Cove to Arthurs Pass

After the letdown on the North Island I walked the South Island from end to end covering 1395 km in 42 days.
I took the ferry from Wellington across the Cook Strait and the watertaxi from Picton which brought me to the Start of the TA at Ship Cove. The Queen Charlotte Track which is part of the nine „Great Walks“ New Zealand has to offer starts right at the Cook Monument.

The South Island was a challenging but very beautiful hike, most of the route did not follow a real trail, thats what it makes it difficult in places. Most of the time it just follows a riverbed or climbs up or down direct routes to saddles and mountainpasses. Routefinding itself was not very difficult because of the markings along the way. I enjoyed staying in the backcountry huts which are very simple equipped with bunk beds. The first hut is lays in the Richmond Ranges is followed by many more  almost all the way to Riverton. I was happy to carry just a lightweight pyramid tarp which I pitched not very often. Most of the days where very fine wheather wise. As far as I can remember heavy rain hit me just once, light snowfall too, but just for a few hours. The route itself its almost just for TA hikers as most of the tourists stay at the Great Walks or go on individual planned hikes.
The Richmond Range was one of the highlights for me. It is known of one of the longest stretches on the route without contact to civilization. It stretches from Havelock to St. Arnaud the southern end. Most hikers plan 8-10 days for the traverse. I took advantage of the good weather and put in some longer days so I made it through in 5.5 days. It leads through dense Rainforest’s, beech forests, many river crossings and wades, up to ridges and to the top of Mt. Rintoul. The Red Hills area where a reminder of the desert in southern California just with the little difference that there are no rattlesnakes or not even lizards around.

Nelson Lakes National Park is a little more travelled so the huts are a bit larger. However still far from crowded.
The national park offers many beautiful places and the track follows rivers for most of the time. Waiau Pass above Lake Constance is the highest point along the route. The alpine area is followed by wide open grassland which gave me a hard time because of hay fever.

I think my favorite part was the Mingha/Deception route over Goat Pass and down to Arthurs Pass, a small alpine village. With a big day before to get me in a better position to do the route in one day I hiked from Morrison Footbridge to the Highway in 10 hours. The way up to Goat Pass follows the riverbed almost the whole time involving countless river crossings.



Ship Cove, start of the South Island via the Queen Charlotte Track


Marlborough Sounds, Queen Charlotte Track


Livin la vida hikertrash


Roadwalk out of Havelock


Starveal Hut, Richmond Range


Beautiful Beech Forests along the way

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Mt. Rintoul, Richmond Range


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Nice Trail!


Another Hut

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Nelson Lakes NP

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Blue Lake was indeed very Blue.


Lake Constance above Blue Lake


Danish hiker Kasper Dean approaching Waiau Pass


Coffee Time!


Another Boulderfield towards Caroline Bivy

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Hayfever paradise

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Simply breakfast time at Ann Hut


A warming fire at a hut


Hurunui Hut No.3, a long day of hiking is waiting for me

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Harpers Pass Bivy. I crashed my head so hard at the door that I had to sit down for several minutes


Selfportrait in front of Harpers

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Another funny trail marker


Down the valley it goes

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Deception Valley


The Route followed the riverbed up to the pass


View from Goat Pass Hut


The Valley I came from on the Mingha Route


2 Responses

  1. Great pictures Matthias! Looks like rough terrain on some sections, even low in the valleys.

    I’m actually also planning a South Island Traverse for next austral summer, so I’m following this with great interest 🙂

    15. April 2014 at 19:22

    • admin2

      Thank you very much Willem!
      Yes, NZ has indeed very hard terrain, especially the forests are really really dense, so plan as many high routes as possible! If you have any specific questions about certain areas hit me up anytime!


      16. April 2014 at 08:26

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