A Sample of Southland’s History – TurnBull’s Track

“A Mish a Day” #84 Turnbulls Track. Longwood Forest Conservation Area. 19.11.2013. New Zealand’s network of tracks and huts really does cover the South Island top to bottom. From the ranges above Nelson and Golden Bay, to South West Fiordland and the Longwood Range. You could spend a lifetime (which is what I am currently doing) wandering the mountains and run outta time with still so much more to do and see. A series of circumstances took me to a job on the South Coast and between my homebase in Tuatapere and the next town along, Aparima / Riverton, are the rolling hills of the Longwood Range…

With a day up my sleeve I decided to go have a look at some of the hiking tracks that cover the east side of the range. To start with it was a small side mission finding Cascade Road (access to the track) amongst the maze of other forestry roads in the eastern side of the Longwood Mountains. Once I found a spot to park, which was on the side of an old forestry road, I began the tramp on the rough old road, which at first swung to the south. After slopping my way through the very muddy road I began hiking on a classic tramping style track up to the historic, and probably haunted, Martins Hut, which it is safe to say had seen better days. And also it would take a survival situation for me to spend more than a snack break in that hut! Above the hut the track climbs up to the high point on the Longwood Range and is also part of the Te Araroa Trail, however I took the track to the south, which was at times very slippery and muddy. Drizzle was the weather’s only way of thinking that day, however the beauty of the area was found in the lush forest. I have always favoured a wet look to our rainforests and of course to see this you are most likely gonna have to put up with some rain.

I had to watch each step as I carefully traveled through a very scenic section of forest and made my way to another historic hut, Turnbull’s (Big Dam) Hut. Just before the hut the track runs alongside a very pretty small lake and I’ll never forget the moss-covered rocks both beside and on the track, which along with being very good for photos, were also a nightmare to walk over. The side track to the hut is marked with an excellent large wooden sign, and as you approach the dark interior blackens the windows and gives the hut, just like Martins Hut, a spooky and haunted look. I was fortunate that the ghosts were out on ghost business and I had another quick snack break and a temporary dry place to sit. I soaked up the historic atmosphere for a couple of minutes and then continued my mish, back into what was now rain pelting the forest of the Longwood Range. At first it was hiking the track and then following the old forestry road back to the Martins Hut Track turn-off to make the hike an excellent loop which only took a couple of hours. I was really only after some exercise, but was pleasantly surprised by my experience. Once you leave the forestry roads behind you, the hiking in the Longwoods is very good. The untouched forest mixed with the moss covered history of the area make for a very scenic wander that is easy on the legs. However if you do spend a night in one of the huts in the area, you are a far braver person than me!

Deep in the Longwood Range Forest

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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