When an Australian friend of mine arranged to come and visit us for a few days, I thought it would be nice to go on a classic New Zealand tramp. My friend is not used to hiking long distances (and neither am I at the moment), so I decided that the walk up to Sign of the Packhorse hut via the Kaituna Valley would be a good choice. This hike is popular with families taking their children tramping for the first time. It should take only about an hour and a half to walk from the car park to the hut. If you go to the right way. Which we didn't.
It was totally my fault as chief navigator. I was complacent about following the trail because of its apparent ease. I read the description rather than looking at the map and when I saw the first marker and a farm track going left I thought that was the farm track we were supposed to follow. In fact the well-marked track continued straight on. It was only as we were nearing the summit that I realised that the Remarkable Dykes were on the right when they should've been on the left.
We had to hike all the way back to that first marker and then continue to follow the markers up to the hut. What should have been a short, straightforward walk turned into a 3 1/2 hour hike. It was lucky that we got to the hut with enough daylight for me to pitch my tent as the stew that I'd made heated up. I wouldn't normally carry something as heavy as stew (or the half litre of wine that I also packed), but I thought it was going to be a short walk.
The night was super windy and I didn’t sleep well, but at least the tent survived. The next day was glorious as we walked on to Mount Herbert and my pack was considerably lighter. But it's a long slog down (over 8 kilometres after the 7 plus walked from the hut to Mount Herbert) from the summit to Diamond Harbour and I was relieved to get on the ferry and hobble the last kilometre home (stopping off for a beer at the cafe and a swim at the wharf).