16. Skirting the Two Thumb Range

From Tekapo, I walked for 16 kms one afternoon along the Two Thumb Range – yet another summer stroll in paradise! The trail – named the Richmond Trail – started on the Round Hill Ski Area Road, which is off Lilybank Road that runs along the north side of Lake Tekapo. Kevin dropped me off at a locked gate on the road, and I walked 3 kms up and alongside the Coal River gully to reach the start of the trail.

This is Coal Creek. Towards the top of the photo on the right you can see a long, straight, fairly flat terrace – this is the glacial outwash terrace that the Richmond Trail runs along, towards the south.
Erosion slips in the Coal River gully fall and eventually get washed away by the flow of Coal Creek. The head of Lake Tekapo is behind left, with the Godley River running into it. The Godley Peaks of the Southern Alps start where you can see the river in the centre distance.
Raoulia australis on the verge of the road – tenacious!
Another branch of Coal River, still walking up the skifield road.
The sign here is for the opposite direction to where I’m going, and shows where Te Araroa heads in behind Mt Hope (the peak at the back, centre of photo) to Stag Saddle, the highest point on that trail at just under 1925 metres.
A DOC sign tells me I’m just starting the Richmond Trail.
The trail is often a 4×4 track. The weather is hot and dry.
Looking back to the start point – I’ve come several kilometres now, but you can see a spectacularly long way back to Mt Hope and the long rounded slopes of the Roundhill ski field (distant right).
The track goes past several headwaters for creeks that run down into Lake Tekapo below. The water is consistently cool and fresh and clear, and I fill my two waterbottles from these.
A wild rose in flower! I switch my shoes for crocs here, and a very relaxed and friendly Te Araroa walker calls out hello! We talk about the route, the mountains, his stopping point for that evening. I tell him I’m walking Te Araroa during afternoon strolls. This is totally a joke of course – I really admire these walkers for the long distances they do, working around terrain and weather and never giving up! They are strong and independent not only in their bodies, but also their minds. It’s nice when they have time to be friendly – some who pass by are listening to podcasts or music (I would be too, walking for such long periods of time) and are harder to engage with.
Some kind of fly (top of flower) finding whatever nectar it can from a dying gentian…
And a butterfly doing the same thing! I think this is a ‘ghosts of summer’ butterfly.
Some humpy ground – is this left by the retreat of an old glacier I wonder?
The track starts to go behind a few hills now.
And it becomes quite rocky nearby…
Another creek tucked away by foliage!
The track turns towards the lake here, heading down Boundary Stream.
The Boundary Stream gully…
Native hebe in flower, in a sheltered spot and looking gorgeous!
Looking back, Boundary Stream on the right.
Wow, around the few hills now, you can AGAIN see Mt Hope and the Roundhill Skifield!
Looking back again – alongside Boundary Stream the track goes though three or four steep cuttings and here is one of them.
The main road’s in sight – not far to go…
…and there’s the car in the distance – Kevin’s waiting for me already!
After Kevin had dropped me off earlier, he picked up some Te Araroa thru-hikers and gave them a lift into Tekapo village – they had been purists in the North Island (walking every step of the way) but for the South Island had decided not to walk the road sections but to accept lifts.

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