The Baton

In our cozy little hut in the middle of a sheep pasture in Tapawera, we waited for the rain to clear. We waited, and we waited. Finally in late morning, we decided those rain clouds weren’t going anywhere and it was time to rug up and set out for our hike into the Kahurangi National Park regardless.

Our host had given us directions down the farm roads to get to the park entrance, and it was a beautiful walk. The icy blue Baton River definitely made us feel like we were in the West Coast region. I guess the steady rain didn’t hurt either!

We knew we had to cross a bridge to get to the trail we were aiming to take, but were told not to go over the first swing bridge we’d encounter. It took us a couple times of doubling back to figure out which bridge was which, but we got there eventually. The swing bridge was well worth a journey across for the views alone, though. Only in NZ do you encounter a bridge like this, all on its own.

After enjoying the beautiful swing bridge and views, we were on to the “non-swing” bridge, which still felt pretty swing-like, but I guess wasn’t a swing bridge by comparison. We soon found the trail we were looking for, along the Baton River, which took us into the Kahurangi Park.

As I mentioned before, “the Baton” was once a gold mining area, and there are still active claims around. You’ll see them here and there, posted on trees.

It was a very soggy hike, but we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and having the place entirely to ourselves. We didn’t pass a single soul the entire time, and we reveled in the company of native birds and the sounds of the river rushing by. As lunchtime grew nearer though, we started to realize that having just had donuts for breakfast wasn’t really enough to power us through our three-hour trek, and we should probably turn back.

I had to pause to get some close-ups of the moss that hung heavy on so many of the trees here, lending the place a fairytale quality, which the mist in the hills only helped.

Back toward civilization, we reached the replica Baton Hotel grounds. Originally built in the mid-19th Century during the prime gold years, the hotel hosted grand dances and was a destination for people in the surrounding area.

The old Hotel “had witnessed so many scenes of fun and frolic when diggers met for a jollification…” After fire swept through the hotel, the ground was ‘washed’ returning an amount of gold which indicated the old diggers  ‘threw their gold around’

Joy Stephens, The Prow

It has now been rebuilt as a private residence. Apparently, the owners don’t even live there most of the year and it’s just looked after by caretakers. Lucky ducks!

The barn made me think of Vermont a little bit.

The entire grounds did feel a little like an alternate reality. We crossed over a bridge, and it was like we’d stepped into Narnia, and I didn’t want to leave. It was time to cross back to the other side, though, and have some lunch.

After some sustenance, there was a break in the rain, which was the perfect time to get some shots of our cozy little solar-powered hut.

The outdoor tub was great for a toasty soak, especially in the evening with the lantern lit. You did have to go outside to use the bathroom (fully normal toilet and everything), which was fine, but a bit disconcerting at night! Of course, any sheep nearby would flee in terror – par for the course.

While the rain had stopped, it was also time to get our anniversary photos. I hadn’t brought my dress along for nothing, after all. I thought it would be cool to start a tradition of getting photos every year in my wedding dress, though I won’t make Andy pack his suit since it’s not as easy. Anyway, I think they came out pretty fun. 🙂 A very Kiwi way to celebrate one year.

The rain picked up again, so we spent a comfy last night at the hut indoors, drinking delicious beer and cooking up a steak and blue cheese feast for dinner, warmed by the potbelly stove. We only had to look out the window for lamb entertainment.

So cute.

The next morning, we had plenty of time to sleep in and lounge around, since our flight out of Nelson wasn’t until the late afternoon. It was another rainy day, so we planned to head to Kaiteriteri for lunch and to drop in and visit one of Andy’s coworkers who lives in that area.

Here’s the inside of the adorable Honeywell Hut! Everything you could need for a few days off the grid, in the middle of nowhere without having to really rough it.

And you can’t beat that view from the porch! Shame we didn’t strike it rich in gold, though. There’s always next time.

Stay tuned for some sunshine up in Gisborne on my ladies’ trip, and then Andy and I head to Wanaka in a couple weeks, so lots on the way. See you soon. 🙂

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