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New Zealand

19.4 Mt Rintoul

Today was one of the longest days we had so far on the trail, and definitely on this section. From the Tarn Hut we went over Rintoul Hut to the Old Man Hut. At no point we’ve been under 1000m and 10 hours walking time.

Once the fire wasn’t burning anymore, it got freezing cold in the hut. The alarm clock was set to 7 o’clock. It wasn’t easy for us to get out of the bed. But we managed it to start our walk at 8am. Directly behind the hut was a beautiful tarn. The mountains were reflecting on the surface.

The tarn behind the hut.

After a few meters we were back on the ridge. With some ups and downs (actually more ups) and magnificent views to both sides we went up to Purple Top. Just before the summit we met Remy. Finally we could give him the batteries which we purchased for him some weeks ago. Just because he and Caro were always one or two days ahead of us, we never had the chance to give the batteries to them.

On the way to the summit of Purple Top
The view from the top was amazing. For the first time after 2 months we could see the sea again. Looks like the trail is coming to an end.

We tried to be quick. We reached the Rintoul Hut at 1pm. This hut had such a nice view, and there was even phone signal. It was the first backcountry hut we came along with phone reception. This was great because we could check the weather forecast etc. We had a long break here. No, not because of the phone reception, we just prepared us mentally for the second part of the day 😉

Lunch at the Rintoul Hut

After lunch we went nearly 500m up to the top of Mt Rintoul. At one point we even had to use our hands to get further up.

Short climbing passage

We finally made it to the summit! We had some gorgeous views from here.

Lisa on the summit of Mt Rintoul
The snow topped Kaikoura range

Now it’s only going down, right? Unfortunately not. Even though it’s getting late and we have walked for quite a while. From the top, we continued to walk on a ridge until we got to the Little Rintoul.

Following some scree slopes to Little Rintoul
Last daylight over the mountains

After we reached the treeline it got suddenly quite dark. The trail continued on the ridge, but we had to leave the trail to get to the Old Man Hut. The hut is located 200m below the ridgeline. We tried to hurry on the ridge. At one point I checked our position, because we expected the trail junction. We went too far, at least that’s what the map told us. So we went back. We looked carefully for everything that looked like a path going down. But there was nothing. We went back again, double checked everything. Nothing. We were at the point where I looked on the phone. So we decided to walk further. Just a few hundreds meter after that point, there was the junction. We used the NZ Topomap50, which apperently shows the junction in a wrong way.

Without headlamps we stumbled down the path. Later on we did the same thing with headlamps on. Finally we reached the hut. We were really happy to be here! We thought that this hut might be not as nice as the other huts, because it’s quite off the trail. Luckily we were wrong.

The Old Men Hut on the next morning