After a delightful night at the Waitutu Lodge (http://www.waitutu.co.nz/) we headed out towards the Waitutu River at 9:30, plenty of time for the 5 hours the sign at the Wairaurahiri Hut (and the DOC brochure opined), we thought. Little did we know that the signs at the Waitutu River pointing back where we were coming from would say 7 hours. It would be a VERY good idea if these hiking tracks could have signs at the 1/3rd and ½ way points – ¼ each way would be even better (counted as duration), so that folks would KNOW how well they were doing. They would know at the 1/3 point, for example whether they had already used ½ of their time, and should turn back (or camp) rather than risk walking in the dark!
An hour and a half in we encountered a French scoundrel who claimed he had left Westies Hut that morning 5 ½ hours before, (TWICE the distance we were intending to walk!) We did not suss that he was a liar and a blackguard until later when we discovered he had not been paying the $5 for his hut accommodation, instead pretending not to have stayed in ANY of them. Three out of four folk who were also on the track were doing this (even though an annual hut pass is only NZ$120!) SCUM!
We kept expecting our speed and the track to improve, to account for his astonishing rapidity. As darkness rapidly approached we tried to speed up and Della twisted her knee, so that we just limped in to the Waitutu as darkness fell after just shy nine hours’ walking! Della’s knee was not much improved next morning so we decided not to press on the (signed) further six hours to Westies Hut (Alas!)
I thought she should rest it a day at the Waitutu River but she was keen to get back to the Lodge and rest there, so we headed out around 8:00 am. The return trip was even slower, 11 ¾ hours (two in the dark!) I think in normal circumstances (uninjured walkers who are not partially sighted) it would take approx 7 ½ hours. It is quite a pleasant walk through beautiful, untouched forest following the old Puysegur Point Lighthouse telegraph line (some mementoes of which yet remain – insulators, wire). A little muddy in places but generally a good grade and easy to follow. A couple of scrambles up and down steep gullies, on one of which Della twisted her knee. We should have planned to camp half way, which is approx the Angus Burn (swing bridge).