After enjoying Wanaka with Alison and Brian, we set out on the final section of mountainous walking on the Te Araroa.

The Motatapu Track begins by climbing up through a lush beech forest. I’ve come to love the dark rich colours of New Zealand’s beech forests so much. I know I’ll miss them.

These forests sure do make you work hard, though.

Eventually, we climbed out of the trees and into open tussock country.

I’ve come to love that moment in New Zealand walking when you spot your intended hut far in the distance.

You’ve been hiking all day anticipating this moment and now – there it is!

Shelter for the night and a comfortable place to relax with fellow trampers.

When you leave the hut in the morning, you’re in for a treat as you climb up and over a saddle, promising great views.

Not only great views but also some unexpected tasty treats too – it’s snowberry season and these yummy little berries are plump and juicy. How do they taste? Imagine if you could eat the aroma of flowers. Delicate and delicious.

Descending from the mountains, the track then follows the river for 7km. I counted over 50 crossings and sometimes the best (and only) way to go is directly down the middle of the river.

There is a “flood track” that cuts through the steep hillsides high above the river, dropping into ravines and climbing out the other side, and disappearing in washouts but this is invariably much more difficult than simply following the river. Unless it’s actually in flood, of course.

Popping out of the river, we made it to Macetown, population zero. Macetown was a booming gold mining town from 1863 until the early 1900s. Those days are long gone but even now there are some signs of gold bugs still poking around the hills and streams.

Some restored buildings give you an idea of what Macetown was like back in the boom days.

If you look closely, you’ll even see some ghosts of where people once lived and worked.

And maybe a few crazies still sluicing the river trying to hit it rich.

I was taking this photo when a truck pulled up and the driver asked if it was *my* illegal sluicing operation!

Next Post: Rest Days in Queenstown

3 thoughts on “We struck gold!

  1. Now, don’t you go calling us mining guys CRAZIES!!!! You just need to pan a couple tiny pieces of gold, and you’ll be hooked too. Gosh, those huts are everywhere, and some sure look rough. Do they charge to stay?

    1. Well, I’ll admit that those gold bugs aren’t quite as crazy as the folks who sift through piles of asbestos tailings looking for chunks of jade. Now that’s nuts 😉

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