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Long-Distance Walks with Mark Moxon

Hollyford-Pyke Route: Day 5: Into the Wilderness

The bush at 6am
To tackle the Pyke Valley you need to get up early, but the Kiwi bush is beautiful and rewarding at 6am

On day 5 we got up at 5am to make an early start, mainly because we wanted all the walking time we could get. The next hut, Olivine, was too far away for a normal day's walk, and most people camp out halfway along the loop, but having no tents we had to try for the hut, or stay out in a homemade bivvy (which was a feasible proposition, just not as nice as a hut). Bill's party had taken 14 hours to get from Olivine to Big Bay, so we set off with some idea of what lay ahead, and it all looked so easy on the map. If only we'd known.

The Pyke Valley
The remote Pyke Valley is an untouched wilderness of cloud-topped mountains and temperate rainforest
Lake Wilmot
The placid waters of Lake Wilmot
Mark wading across the Barrier River
Crossing the Barrier River

Going Nowhere Slowly

Rick on the cage bridge
Rick on the cage bridge

It took us about an hour of bush-bashing to realise that it was hopeless; we were getting nowhere, and were in considerable pain to boot. We turned right around, smashed our way back to the lake – what a gorgeous sight after that hell! – and threaded back to the southeastern corner of the lake, where we nursed our pride and tried to save the day by finding the track. The relief when we found the first marker deep in the considerably easier bush was huge, and we followed the markers through beech forest until we hit the Barrier River; we constantly lost the track, but after our experiences with the river bush, we were determined to keep to the path now that we had it in our sights, so if we lost the markers we'd turn back and try again. Cries of 'marker!' from whoever was leading were like manna from heaven.

Sunset over the Pyke River
Sunset over the Pyke River from the comfort of the Olivine Hut