So far I’ve been pretty lucky whenever I venture outside of Christchurch and go somewhere. In terms of weather, activities, and finding excellent places to eat. When I ventured to Kaikoura, however, I wasn’t so lucky.
I left in mid august with a friend to go to roughly two hours north to the town of Kaikoura. Known for whale watching (as there are a large number of sperm whales found just offshore year-round), groups of seals, and various scenic hiking trails, Kaikoura was on my go-to list. So, wanting to have adventure, we set out on our journey to climb Mt. Fyffe. The summit is roughly 1600 meters above sea level, and the fully-equipped hut where we would be staying is at 1300 meters.
We arrived at the start of the trek right around 1pm, knowing it would take roughly three-four hours to reach the summit. The thing we didn’t know was how steep and arduous the climb would be. Stopping roughly every 30-45 minutes to catch our breath, we were exhausted and sweating through several layers of our clothes before we got an hour and a half into our climb. Determined that even though it was raining and even briefly snowing during our trek we would keep moving.
After finally reaching the hut, and what do my friend and I find? That the fully equipped hut that we thought had a space heater as we had read online, just had a fireplace with only a few pieces of wood. Unfortunately neither of us had packed anything remotely useful to start a fire to keep us warm after we would finish our hike, so it looked like our sleeping bags were the only things that were going to keep us warm.
We finished our lunch at the hut and decided to at least try to climb the summit. During the remaining 300 meter climb upward, we noticed that the higher we climbed the less we could see of the trail because of the clouds rolling in. Noting that it would be better to come home in a passenger seat rather than in a body bag, we turned around and headed toward the hut again. Not seeing the summit was disheartening, but we would rather be safe than sorry. Talking to each other at the hut, we took everything into account. Little warmth, a lot of daylight to kill, freezing cold, and a summit that was impossible to get to all lead us to cutting our losses and walking back down the trail to look at the town’s center.
After grabbing a bite to eat and walking around for a bit, we said farewell to Kaikoura by cutting our two-day trip to a one-day trip and left for Christchurch. On the trip back, we did get to take advantage of the darkness and stopped to stargaze for a while making our unlucky day end on an interesting high note.