Kaituna Valley – Packhorse – Rod Donald Hut – Hilltop

20-21 Feb 2016

Joy, Tim and Wendy set off from the Kaituna-Packhorse track carpark at 0930 while Gary and Kerry drove to the Pettigrews Road DoC carpark to leave a car there. Returning with one car they set off at 10.30 on a warm, soon-to-be hot, sunny day to join the others. Packhorse Hut has been refurbished, strengthened and now sports a bright red roof. The track on the east side of Mt Bradley goes through some nice forest patches then zig-zags up close to the flat-topped Bradley. Gorse is a problem but recent track clearing smoothed our path to the ridge that connects with Herbert Peak. We enjoyed 10 minutes of shade in the DoC shelter, watching a family of swallows as they wheeled and swooped around the shelter.

Soon we were heading down from the 919m Herbert, past some very relaxed cattle to the 913m “Little Mt Herbert”. We crossed Western Valley Road, walked on 1½km to Waipuna Saddle and looked for the turn-off to Rod Donald Hut. Descending through a reserve at the head of the Little River Valley we arrived at this beautiful hut for some welcome relief from the hot sun. Two women were there already. They had left Packhorse Hut at 0500 in the dark to avoid the heat of the day. Soon, an Israeli couple arrived so the hut’s bunks were almost fully reserved. We were impressed with features of R D Hut—small faucets so water wouldn’t be wasted, split level design, composting toilet, LED lighting and pot-belly stove. Gary cooked up a delicious chicken and risone meal followed by custard on fruit loaf. To tease the others Kerry threatened to light a fire to supplement his bag liner—no sleeping bag. Gary chose to sleep on the verandah to keep cool. Inside, anyone in a sleeping bag would have roasted.

Sunday dawned cooler than the previous day so we had a nice 4 hour walk which included lunch to Gary’s car. Little River was crowded so a coffee stop would have taken ages. We consumed ice cream and drinks and drove back to Kaituna to Kerry’s car then home. We were: Gary Huish (leader), Joy Schroeder, Wendy Wallace, Tim Hines and Kerry Moore (KM)