The Old Mill Track was kind of an emergency decision. Traditionally, after checking the weather forecast, we had to abandon our initial plan in the Tararua Range. Neither an alternate plan in the Orongorongo Valley worked as all possible huts were fully booked. Tired of endless searching, we finally decided for a track in the Aorangi Range.
On the way there, we stopped for lunch at a nice cafe in Martinborough where we spent a little fortune for burgers with red wine jelly. We deserved something fancy before we’d get back to our canned tuna and noodles. Full of energy, we arrived at the carpark at the beginning of the track in the early afternoon.
The first part of the track was easy and we shortly reached an intersection with the Pig Ridge Track. At that point, the path started to be a bit rough after a while as there were some landslides and uprooted trees. Moreover, we often had to struggle through the bush and I didn’t feel really comfortable with the view of deep gully below us.
Eventually, I was happy that we finally reached the Turanganui River and I didn’t even mind that we had to take our shoes off and do a few crossings through the cold water. Suddenly, while we were in the middle of one crossing, a group of dogs shot out from the bush. That time, we met out overnighters - two hunters and their four dogs. They were nice guys, apart from the fact that about 10 pm they started to prepare their pork sausages which smelled really nice and embarrassed our poor tuna noodles. Actually, a part of that smell we took away soaked in our sleeping bags.
The next day, we woke up really early. Partially because of the hunters who were leaving the hut early and partially because we could sleep in our way too warm sleeping bags no longer.
While finishing the loop, we made one unsuccessful attempt to climb to Mt Ross but after a while, we totally lost the path in the dense bush and had to give up. However, we didn’t have to regret too much as clouds covered the top of the hill in the next couple of hours and before that happened we could, at least, enjoyed some nice views from little green clearings along the path. But next time, we leave Aorangi Range to hunters.