Port Hills Walking Marathon #4: Battling the Mud, Drizzle, and the Cloud

It was a roller coaster of emotions leading up to this trip. The weather was looking so bad a few days ahead of the trip, then really good, and then just good enough, and then quite bad again… I postponed thsi year’s walking marathon in my head so many times! Despite not having the most favorable forecast, 25 trampers jumped on the ferry to Diamond Harbour at 7:50 AM. An additional 11 trampers pulled out that morning! Barney took on the role of being the tail-end Charlie. In the morning, Barney and I performed a car shuffle to Gebbies Pass, where we left Barney’s car as he intended to conclude his journey there.

As every year, just a few minutes after leaving the ferry, it became quite clear who’s who. Eric, Byron, Gort, and some others shot off, and I haven’t seen them for the rest of the day. On the other hand, some others started to lag behind the group, and I also didn’t see them for the rest of the day. When I reached the top of Mt Herbert, I seriously doubted my decision-making because it was very windy, muddy, and drizzly. Mark A. even asked me, “Why did we come here today if we could come here any other day when it’s sunny?” – well, a really good question! Once we got behind Mt Bradley, the weather slightly improved. However, the mud was pretty horrific. I got wet feet half way to Mt Herbert. I reached Packhorse Hut at around 11:30 and continued to Gebbies Pass, where I arrived at 1:10 PM. I met Falk and Carol there. Carol got picked up by her husband because she slipped and hurt her back unfortunately. Mark A. changed into his brand new running shoes, and many others did the same. Unfortunately, I stupidly “advised” everyone to have spare shoes for the road section, but I didn’t have any myself. It cost me quite a lot because in the next few hours, walking along the road in wet hiking shoes, I developed some decent blisters.

Anyway, we continued towards the cloudy Port Hills, and while some of the members took on the Crater Rim Walkway, I just couldn’t be bothered and stuck to the road for the rest of the day. I managed to reach Sign of Kiwi at 3:50, which was 10 minutes before they closed. Marc continued down to town, and I took on the last bit and reached Eruption Brewing pub in Lyttelton at 6 PM. My grandmother once said that to learn the most from an experience, “it doesn’t need to be positive as long as it’s deep.” It definitely applies to this year’s marathon. I’ve walked longer distances in the past, but this year felt like a great achievement to finish, and I reckon a lot of folks felt the same. The mud, cloud, wind and drizzle added and extra layer of challenge but also adventure. What a cloudy and muddy adventure it was! Here are a few more points:

  • The youngest person who walked with us was not even a teenager.
  • I really liked our WhatsApp group that I created a couple of days ahead. Participants posted their progress there. Since we didn’t walk together, it provided a good sense of community and motivation. There is a patchy reception along the most of the track.
  • It’s worth considering doing the trip on Saturday next time and sending prospective members and slower folks on the 6:50 AM ferry (6.50 ferry only runs on Saturday). Tail-end-Charlie and the faster folks can board the 7:50 AM ferry to narrow down our finish time, which ranged from 8 hours and 30 minutes to 12 hours.
  • Barney and I did car shuffle in the morning to Gebbies Pass where we left Barney’s car.
  • Note for me: Michal, book a table in a pub next time! Thanks, Barney, for doing so in the afternoon 🙂
  • Out of the 25 participants, 21 finished.

My stats: 45.8 km, 10 h 05 min, 1840 m ascent. The fastest person was Eric who smashed it in 8 h 35 min. The slowest folks took around 12 hours.

Participants: Michal Klajban (leader, scribe, GPX), Alexander MacDonald, Mark Nicholls, Shana Dooley, Barney Stephenson, Mark Anderson, Timothy Lawrence, Jim Schofield, James Schofield, Gort Stephan, Falk Werner, Marc Bietola, Lee Robertson, Jo Wilkinson, Katie Ridley, Carol Armstrong, Sabina Erickson, Greg, Eric Skea, Kate Taylor, Kamala Hayman, Byron Harvey, Jonathan Carr, Cat Xiao, Ghianne Karla Guevarra

Tramped on 25th June 2023.



Total distance: 44233 m
Max elevation: 930 m
Min elevation: -2 m
Download file: GPX-hikingisgood-com-nz-2023-Port-Hill-walking-marathon.gpx

About the Author

I lived a pretty ordinary life for a while. I did my studies, my second studies, my third studies, my first job, my second job, and my third job. I wasn’t really sure what’s going on so, in 2014, I left my home country (Czechia) to learn about the world. I’m still not sure what’s going on but I enjoy it much more. I lived in a few countries before settling in New Zealand.

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