Sort of Sunny on the West Coast (Part Three) – Paratu Stream / Otira Valley

“On a Mish” #235 Sort of Sunny on the West Coast (Part Three). Paratu Stream. Arthurs Pass National Park. 29.12.2020. A long and slow recovery mixed with a lack of outdoor adventures had begun to take its toll on my mind and my ability to relax. You might think it is ludicrous to spend a night out camping when suffering from a bad hip and back? Probably. But for my mental health’s sake I needed to go on a mish…

As usual I had a better sleep than I would in a normal bed. I woke to a loud and joyful morning chorus which filled the air with the sound of wild Aotearoa. This was a great sign of bird life in the area and showed that a lot of successful trapping had been done to keep the predator numbers down.

I was up early-ish as it was almost time for another Christmas feast (Wilson Whanau this time), so I had to be back in Christchurch by lunchtime. I was very excited as I hadn’t caught up with that side of the family in ages, so with this in mind I began to transport my gear back across the valley as early as possible.

Nothing better than hiking in the early morning in the fresh air on the West Coast. Lots of forest and very few humans make the area perfect for a wilderness adventure even if you don’t go very far like me.

As I arrived at the road for the first time, I was surprised to see so many cars, meaning the hills were full of other keen hikers enjoying the fine-ish holiday weather. A lot of people were heading off up the Deception Valley, which is part of the famous ‘Coast to Coast’ multisport mountain race. It probably looked strange when I put my pack into my car and then immediately started hiking back on the track I came from to get the remainder of my gear.

I packed down my tent, still soaking wet from the morning dew, then made the last pilgrimage across the grassy plains of the Otira Valley. Sore but satisfied I took in the environment for the last time and then crossed over the clear water of the Otira River on the Morrison Footbridge.

In the end I hiked a lot further than expected, and the pain in my hip told me so. But as I drove back over Arthurs Pass on a bluebird day, I thought to myself the pain was worth it and ‘It is really hard to beat the West Coast on a sunny day…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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