Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Conservation Park Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
In February and March of this year we spent 38 days adventuring through the South Island. Twenty-four of those days we spent wholly or partially in the conservation estate. Our adventure was anchored by participation in two club multi-day trips in the Arahura River valley and on the Dusky Track.
These two day trips were the conclusion of our adventuring, as 'Nanny State' declared an impending health emergency on the day of our arrival in Kaikoura. We were fortunate to get a booking on one of the last regularly-scheduled ferry crossings but had two days to wait.
Hapuku Hut is one of two huts on the Kowhai – Hapuku Circuit. The DOC fact sheet says ‘ … typical Kaikoura backcountry. It is classified as a tramping track, but post-earthquake and flood debris make this rewarding tramp a real challenge’.
We accessed the start of the walk to Hapuku Hut via Parsons Road, off State Highway One north of Kaikoura. The first few kilometres are up a river bed covered with significantly-sized rock rubble. We then followed the wet-weather route on the true right above the gorge and easily traversed the route up-river to the hut. After a short exploration upstream of the hut, under a blue dome sky, we decided to follow the riverbed on our return.
The watercourse demands attention but can be comfortably travelled. The highlight of the day was travelling through the Hapuku Gorge – a narrow defile with sides perpendicularly rising 80+ metres. Once out of the gorge it was a repeat of the river-rubble wander back to the car, stopping for a short conversation with a shooting couple who were sighting their guns with live ammo in the wide river bed. It was a comfortable day's outing in a different landscape from previous day trips on our travels.
The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway can be commenced from the town centre and can be completed as a circuit, but we chose to start from the Point Kean carpark. There is a comprehensive DOC info sheet giving details of the various sections of the walkway.
On the morning of our outing, the nature gods were with us – low tide, light sea breeze and a blue dome above - so we followed the track along the clifftops and returned to the car by way of the beaches and exposed sea shelving. We dawdled on the walk, allowing ourselves to be distracted with nature's minutiae, knowing it was to be our final DOC-estate outing.
The vistas inland were inspiring, and from the cliffs we watched planes and boats searching for the whales not too far offshore.
The return along the exposed sea shelf delighted us with curious rock formations, vibrant sea weeds, and intransigent seals. It was a 'long morning' and a relaxed outing to end our extensive South Island adventure.
- Party members
- Tricia French & Bill Allcock (scribe)