8 - 9 June 2013
I was very lucky to be on Raymond’s trip to Kirwans Hut. After a pleasant drive from Christchurch to just past Reefton, we parked at the end of Capleston Road.
It was hard to imagine that in the gold mining days, there was a town there of over a 1,000 people there. It was just past 11am as we headed off, over the first of several swing bridges. Oh, how luxurious! Five people were allowed to cross this one! The first stroll alongside the river was a wide, rocky 4wd drive track. It was great to walk alongside each other and have a chat. We were quite a multi-cultural group, with Raymond and I (Kiwis), Nadia (Russian) and Pauline (Malaysian).
We ducked through a rugged old tunnel, to view the next swing bridge then a pig dog, came running after us, with his GPS transmitter around his neck. This alerted us to the danger of hunters in the area. The bush was stunning, with lovely red beech trees. There were a few old, and fallen ones on the track, and a few slips that we had to scramble past. As we gradually climbed, we noticed the vegetation changing. The beech trees became a lot stumpier, less foliated and covered in moss rather than leaves. It must be very damp and moist up there, amongst the clouds.
Raymond gave us a map reading lesson, and we noted the true right and left sides of the river. The track was in pretty good nick, considering it would have been a main highway for horses, a hundred years ago. We ambled on upwards, noting how dim the light was. Mist covered the ridge. We could hear quite a chorus of birds and we were lucky to see bellbirds, tomtits, fantails, and on the second day, quite a few south island robins.
We were so lucky with the weather. The forecasted rain didn’t show until we arrived at the beautiful Kirwans Hut. It was great advice from Gary to carry some kindling up to start the coal fire, which we kept stoked through the night. We were treated to such a divine chicken laksa soup with noodles, tofu, and delicious shitake mushrooms, compliments of first and second chef, Raymond and Pauline. We were so full, but the dessert of chocolate-coated chockies went down really well.
I must say, after talking all we could, it was luxurious to go to bed at 8pm and sleep for 12hrs! Better than at home. We were also really grateful for Nadias’s umbrella to rush to the loo in the night in the rain. The view from the loo was amazing.
The next morning, Nadia and Raymond walked up Kirwans Hill to enjoy the views of Mt Cook, the Victoria Range and the tussock and wild mountainous lands. Pauline and I spent a relaxing time, enjoying the amazing views from the hut’s big bay window. The walk down was a cruise, although the track was a bit slippery after the night of rain. The bush was mysterious and misty. We had a coffee at Reefton and arrived home at 6pm.
I had a wonderful trip and would like to thank Raymond for the excellent leadership, company and his Asian culinary delights.
The party: Raymond Ford, Pauline Hill, Nadia Zviagina, Gayle O’Halloran, (GO)