Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Days 83-88: Kinloch, Queenstown, Arrowtown, Motatapu Alpine trail, Wanaka

Day 83. Well, Toni convinced me to stay another night at Kinloch- as Rob Wakelyn commented, 'it may take a crowbar to get you out of there'! It's such a great place, all of the staff have been wonderful and have made me feel like family. In fact,  I was invited to the staff dinner at Toni and John's house with the warning that it  may be like the Weasley's (a Harry Potter reference). And it was! Delightful chaos and fun :-)
That's us playing the 'chocolate game' with the kids. Shortly after there was a mad tea towel fight, which will probably be banned from the house henceforth. I might have gotten a bit competitive. It's been a nice, relaxing day and I managed to clean all my gear too! And look- a rainbow..

 Day 84. I suppose all good things must come to an end. Sigh. Lovely Hilde was kind enough to drop me off in Glenorchy where I was driven to Queenstown In a Mercedes (as you do). It was cold , a dusting of snow had fallen overnight which added to my melancholy.
I restocked food in Frankton and then walked through to Arrowtown. On the way...
Oh, and some cool scenery:

I went to the Arrowtown campground, where Zac and Peter really looked after me. The facilities are very modern and clean! It was strange however being away from my new friends, going from being used to my own company to enjoying the company of others again, and flip flopping back to walking alone. I guess that's the nature of things!

Day 85. Another fine weather day! Shortly after enjoying the scent of the broom and lupins, 
I ran into a local fellow called Brian who volunteers to help maintain the track. He reckons the broom is getting out of control, as is gorse and hemlock. Apparently these have been taken off the invasive species list so farmers etc are no longer required to attempt to eradicate them on their property. Will be interesting to see what effect that had on some TA sections! The walk through from Arrowtown to Motatapu station was simply spectacular, and helped to shake me out of my blue funk.

I ran into a TA section hiker in Macetown, Charles. The general consensus was that there were very few Kiwis who walk the TA, let alone know about it! How do we change that, I wonder? I think it would be brilliant if young Kiwis took on the challenge as a right of passage.

Anyway, it was a bit of a hard slog in the afternoon, but the views were worth every gram of sweat! I got to Roses Hut by 6 pm and settled in for the night.

At Roses Hut there is a DOC poster which talks of the first European to travel to Wanaka, Nathaniel Chalmers.
Nice beard, Nath!
An apt description is enscribed:
"Matagauri clawed at the few rags left covering his cramped body. His footwear slowly disintegrating under stress of days spent walking over rocky terrain ..." Sounds familiar.

Day 86. The good weather continues! I have a big day ahead, hoping to walk through to Fern Burn Hut, over rolling and very steep tussock country. On the way to the first big ascent, a young shepherd called Zac drove by with a couple of dogs on the back of his quad. Naturally for this part of the world he stopped to have a chat. I didn't learn much about the track ahead, but it was good to talk about general stuff. Soon enough I was on my up the hill and Zac was rounding up sheep in a nearby valley. 
You can just make out Roses Hut in the centre valley:
It was a hard slog and woke me up nicely! About an hour later I could see Lake Wanaka:
And also evidence of someone having given up this silly walking stuff. :-)

The trail notes mention the difficult terrain. It's difficult sidling for sure- and the tussock makes it feel like a slippery slide!

After lots of up and down, I made it to Highland hut at around 12.30, done in. I seriously thought about staying the night rather than attempting a very steep ascent and walk to Fern Burn Hut. The views from the long drop at Highland hut also recommended it!

But no, my stubbornness won out and before my body was ready for it, I found myself plodding up the next step incline.
The ridge centre-left is my objective.
An hour out from Highland hut and I was looking back from the saddle, sweaty but satisfied with my work.

So my speed up surprised me- and another 90 minutes and I was at Fern burn, soaking my feet in a cold stream!
I had plenty of sunlight left to relax and was and dry gear. Later in the day Steve arrived at the hut from the car park end, slightly surprised to find someone else at the hut. Semi naked. Anyway, nice bloke with lots of experience of travelling NZ and living rough. Plus, he plays mandolin so is obviously a good guy!
Tomorrow should see me in Wanaka where I can swap out some gear, lighten my load a bit in preparation for having to carry more food and water. I haven't used the axe/saw combo, and can do without my hammock under quilt, and a few small bits and bobs. A good day today, if a little rough on the feet and knees. On that note, g'night!

Day 87. This morning I walked with Steve to the car park, he was good company and gave me the scoop on guiding... I think actually he managed to scare me off a possible alternative line of work should I leave my profession! The walk down was tougher than expected at first, with undulating ground.

The is a really nice section following the stream through beech...

We then broke out into farmland, shortly after reaching the car park. Steve knew I wouldn't accept a ride, but did offer cold juice and bikkies from his 'Tardis', which I gratefully accepted. Cheers, mate!

I got walking to Glendhu Bay, and got a message from Dad pointing out a romantic family connection with the motor camp... As the story goes, my grandma and her family were holidaying here, and my Grandad decided to pay a visit by walking roughly the same route but I think from Dunedin. Picture a dirty, sweaty and probably smelly suitor turning up to woo my future Grandma! I'm surprised I'm here!
Anyway, its been Jaw-dropping vistas, and bloody hot.

Do you remember the 'magic mushrooms' I found at South Mavora Lake? Another, this time at Lake Wanaka!

I also found my dream house!

Another juice was offered to me when I was enquiring on accommodation costs (a little cheekily) at a swank villa. The lady did offer a discount down to $200 a night (gulp). Too rich for me though! The juice was a lovely gesture. Finally in Wanaka, I went on the prowl for socks, and a replacement shirt for my beloved Icebreaker GT (sob!)... It finally gave up the good fight after 2,000km and 3 months of continuous wear. Thy don't stock them anymore!! Distraught.

Day 88. Zero day in Wanaka... I went back to Outside Sports and while I couldn't get a replacement top (ended up compromising and buying a synthetic Sherpa button shirt), I did meet Emily who is the Icebreaker rep down this way, and is ex-Army! Maybe she can convince head office to make this model again? :-) I also picked up some new icebreaker briefs in 'safety orange'. Hey, I take safety in the outdoors seriously!

Then a bit of relaxation before starting walking again tomorrow. Cinema Paradiso, Wanaka. Morris Minor seats!
Before I retired for the night, I paid my respects at the local war memorial.
I am likely to be out of touch for a week, so not to worry if you don't hear from me for a while. Happy trails! 

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