On Day 4 of Overland Track, the trail goes steadily uphill through the ancient thick forest with slippery, wet loose rocks and tree roots before reaching the spacious New Pelion Hut and its panoramic veranda, a perfect place for lunch. From there, the track ascends to Pelion Gap before descending to Kia Ora Hut.
Judging by the tent, the night have seen a little drizzle but it stopped by the time we woke up. We didn’t hear the rain but we heard a possum rummaging and noisily sniffing around our tent for food at night.
After checking for squirming leeches lunching on our bodies, and luckily finding none, we dragged ourselves from our warm sleeping bags. This morning was our earliest start so far. Hoping that it will set a new pattern, we packed our tent, had a quick breakfast and headed off.
The walk from Frog Flats was going up through rainforest followed by large eucalypt trees before ending at New Pelion Hut set among the grasslands of the Pelion Plains. There are no signs of human life here – no roads, no houses. Only the boardwalks snaking through the rugged and remote landscape.
On the way, we visited the historic Old Pelion Hut. Constructed in 1916 to accommodate copper miners, it’s one of the oldest huts in the park. Today, it can be used for emergency only. There is a swimming hole nearby, perfect for cleaning up.
This section of the track follows the 1898 horse trail built to transport miners from towns to mines. In places, the track became all mud, often resembling a slow-flowing creek. We tried, unsuccessfully, to keep our boots dry and clean from mud …
Soon, we arrived to New Pelion Hut, spacious and modern.
But the best is its large veranda with views over picturesque button grass plains and dolerite spires of Mt Oakleigh. New Pelion Hut is one of the places along the Overland Track, where we would love to spend a day or two.
The bushwalkers, as usually, have already gone, the sun was gently warming us up and the views were fantastic. So, we found a pretext to stay longer – we decided to cook us a proper lunch today. The veranda was such a perfect place to sit with a cup of coffee that we ended up staying much longer than we should probably have.
Reluctantly leaving the hut, we started walking up through the rainforest towards Pelion Gap, an exposed plateau between Mt Pelion East and Mt Ossa.
We continued hiking through the Pinestone Valley towards Kia Ora Hut located in eucalypt forest beside Kia Ora Creek. This is where we were greeted with even more mud, the notorious mud of the Overland Track. The narrow boardwalk ended at one point. Misjudging the extent of mud, Olga resolutely stepped in and almost her entire leg sunk deep into a swamp.
“Kia Ora” is a New Zealand Maori word for welcome, and Kia Ora Hut was a true welcome from the long day of hiking through mud.
Cooking our dinner with freezing hands, we became tempted to get converted to the raw cuisine.
The night soon started to fall. Pitching the tent, we came to the realisation of the extent of the track’s wilderness and its unique landscape…
Overland Track: Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Day 1: Ronny Creek to Waterfall Valley Hut
Day 2: Waterfall Valley Hut to Windermere Hut
Day 3: Windermere Hut to Frog Flats
Day 4: Frog Flats to Kia Ora Hut through New Pelion Hut
Day 5: Kia Ora Hut to Bert Nichols Hut at Windy Ridge
Day 6: Bert Nichols Hut to Pine Valley Hut
Day 7: Pine Valley Hut to Narcissus Hut
Day 8: Narcissus Hut to Lake St Clair visitor centre
Distance from Frog Flats to Kia Ora Hut: 11.8 km, walking time: 3-4 hrs
Distance from New Pelion Hut to Kia Ora Hut: 8 km, walking time: 2-3 hrs
Side trips from Kia Ora Hut:
• Mt Ossa (1’617m): 13km return, 4-5 hrs. Climb to Mt Ossa seems to be the highlight of almost all bushwalkers. But rough and rocky climb to Tasmania’s highest mountain is difficult, with steep and very exposed sections.
• Mt Pelion East (1’433m): 10.6 km return, 3-4 hrs. Easier climb compared to Mt Ossa ascent but still challenging, with a steep final section to a rocky summit.
For more information, please refer to Overland Track Practical Information.