Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Days 129-134: The End...Or a Beginning?

Day 129. So a second zero day, and as usual my feet have swollen to blimp-like proportions. Phil (who runs river guided tours): Hey Patrick, wanna drive our truck while we hang glide? Me: yeah!
(Phil and Derek check out the launch site)

(Derek points out an alternate landing area)

(Phil goes for it!)

(Derek follows...)

I really enjoyed the conversation, prep work and seeing how it comes together- another expensive hobby to get into? Maybe...

Last night at the backpackers, I asked for some help to lighten my 3L wine cask, happily a few accepted. Watched the moon come up in all it's splendiforisness and I misidentified a bunch of stars...

Day 130. I said my goodbyes to the gang at Blue Moon backpackers- Shane had to tell me about his biodiesel project before I left though, and even did a 'show and tell' complete with fuel samples. A bit of a character, is our Shane! The weather finally turned as I hit the road, so a nice cooling wind as I left Havelock! It was a nice walk to Anakiwa, despite being a road verge for most of it.

If you time it right, the coffee cart in Anakiwa will be open (1.30pm), and while waiting here I ran into Jin who is a SOBO TA hiker, a keen photographer carrying 7 kg of camera gear on top of the usual! So, having decided to savour my last section, I planned four easy days on the track. Davies Bay campsite was just up the road from Anakiwa, and I shared it with just one couple, Kiwis Kyle and Chloe. Hats off to them- they have courageously decided to move islands and head to Queenstown to make a new start. Love it!

I rigged my hammock and tarp in anticipation of a big blow. But nothing came of it...

Day 131. This track is a pleasantly easy walk! Lovin' the heck out of it. I've been fortunate to meet a number of SOBO TA and other hikers, and I'm starting to feel like a minor celebrity- kinda like the 'spray, and walk away!' guy. Except less well known. And unpaid.
Met the Honeymoon hikers, Gnu from Japan, Till and Sarah, and Izzy from Germany. Great to meet you guys!

(Black Rock Campsite)

Black Rock is a small campsite, and I thought I might have it to myself until Stefan from Denmark and Paul from Germany turned up. Nice to chat about hammocks, gear and photography. Stefan is dabbling with hammock camping so that was interesting to see, while Paul is doing 'the usual' Germanic gap year thing. Good on him for choosing NZ!
(Views of Picton from Black Rock)
(Paul and Stefan working the cameras)

Day 132. Another magic day's walking. I met a number of SOBO TA trampers today- Gerald and James...

And then Tom and Nic, Monkey and Zippy! Awesome to met and chat with you- happy trails!

The usual obligatory gorgeous scenery followed.

On the way I bumped into Ashley and Lucas whom I met at Blue Moon backpackers in Havelock, and had lunch while trying to keep off a very cheeky weka.

I arrived at Camp Bay and met a bunch of really awesome people, including DOC hosts Julien and Yasmina from France, and Liedeke from the US. We enjoyed the glow worms and a full moon across the Sound.

Oh, and possums. Lots of them!

Day 133. Feeling a bit subdued today. It was very nice to share a campsite with some very cool travellers, but I know it is my last night on the trail. I had to drop in on Furneaux lodge for lunch, and to pick up some champers to celebrate tonight...

So, I arrived at Schoolhouse Bay for my last night on the trail. Somehow, I knew I would have the campsite to myself!

A couple kayaking did drop in briefly, took pity on this poor hungry through hiker and gifted me with some fresh food! 

This almost made up for the champers exploding in my pack... I rescued a cupful to toast with, and enjoyed champagne-scented sleeping gear for the night.

Day 134. Last day! The walk over the small hill to Ship Cove only took an hour, so I had an hour of quiet contemplation before the ferry arrived. 

From the water taxi to the interislander ferry, it all went smoothly. I did a celebratory leap off the wharf, so checked in soaking wet and squelching. Tip: there's a boaties shower available for $2 next to the interislander terminal!
I met some new friends on the interislander, including these two young fellas, and Ayla who is moving with her BF to Wellington. Good luck! And this band, the Shot Band played some great folk music. 

And it wasn't long before we were gliding in to Wellington harbour, and seeing family! 

(My favourite girls- daughter Hazel and niece Nieve)

I'll leave the deep questions etc to another post, but suffice to say I've loved this through hike and perhaps another calls :-)

A big thank you to my family and friends who have supported me throughout, from parents arrived unexpectedly on the trail with champagne, or putting up with all those parcels, overseas friends who rallied the troops, visited me while walking, sent me food and other wonderful gifts, sent me daily texts (the delightful 'Te Araroa Tip of the Day' from Scotty and Adi), and contributed in many other ways. A special thanks to everyone who donated money to Shine, you are all heroes in my book! If you haven't yet, but want to, go here: 


To the Te Araroa Trust, thank you for making this possible for us! Good luck to everyone still walking.
Cheers and all the best, Pat/Kiwiscout

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Days 122-128: Richmond Range to Havelock

Day 122. Despite persistent light rain, the stream crossings of the Wairoa including the 'dreaded' waterfall chute were a doddle, helped by my experiences further down the South Island crossing and re-crossing Bush Stream, the Deception River etc etc. only 8 crossings? No worries!

The sidling was slippery but kept me alert and thinking all the way. Except for a lapse in concentration where I stepped onto a fungus-blackened beech root, slipped and had a good fall. A nicely-placed tree arrested my progress before I slid all the way down into the river, so I was pretty happy to get away with blackened and stained clothes!

I was at Mid Wairoa for lunch, but not before meeting Julie and Andrew, some of the few fellow Kiwis I've met doing the TA. A cheeky goat was grazing just outside the hut, safe in the knowledge that hunters would be elsewhere (?!).

Another fairly easy walk uphill 
and I was at Tarn Hut- the weather continued to worsen while I was trying to dry gear out, I decided to stay and get a fire going. A robin dropped in to investigate...

... And I went to see the tarn. Tadpoles galore, and it was NOT inviting. A bit eerie, actually!

I found Bear Grylls' 'Mud, Sweat and Tears' being used as a firelighter (I'm sure he would approve), so I got to read a chapter or two. This particular hut had very little in the way of reading material, so it was a nice partial find! My phone battery died today, and I found that I had not recharged my solar charger in St Arnaud! So I missed out on taking pictures of beautiful views the following day while my solar charger did its best with low light conditions.

Day 123. A real day for bird watching as I walked to Rintoul Hut. I saw my first long tail cuckoo! And robins, grey warblers, riflemen, silvereye, tomtits, bellbirds... I also met Martin, a young fellow who looked a bit shaken up- he told me he had probably 'bitten off more than I can chew' in the Richmond Range, having gotten soaked and hypothermic the day before. His gear looked ok and he still had enough food to walk out in my opinion, but he had obviously had a tough time. I pressed on and arrived at Rintoul Hut at 11am, and had an early lunch. The views walking over Purple Top were superb, but my iPhone was still down for the count. During lunch the rain squalls started and the wind picked up. I decided to call it a day so I would have better weather for my crossing of Mt Rintoul (I hoped!), and to give my charger time so I could operate my iPhone camera. Again, this hut had bugger all to read other than another Bear Grylls firelighter, thankfully a chapter remained that I hadn't read yet! At 3 pm I got the fire going, just in time for the first Southbound TA trampers! First down the hill were David and Pascal (from Germany), walking with Joe from the US. It was great to swap stories and gear talk, and I was fascinated by Joe's attempt to make a pizza from couscous!
Floris and Eve then arrived, also TA trampers, so for me it was one of the few times I stayed in a full hut and the first time I stayed In a hut entirely of TA trampers!
(The crew L-R: Joe, Pascal, me of course, Eve, Floris, David)

Good to meet you guys, happy trails for the rest of your TA journey!

Day 124. The weather was a little better, so I got going before it changed its mind...

The clouds piled up on one side of the hill, while it was beautifully clear and fresh on the other. I just loved the tops!
(Looking back down towards Rintoul Hut)

(Towards Little Rintoul)

Yes, a wee bit of scrambling required (ie using hands and feet to get up/down rock), but it was enjoyable! I'm glad I didn't go yesterday when the rock was wet and slippery though!

On the way to Starevall Hut I met another Kiwi TA tramper- Ryan Foley, rockin' an Aarn pack as well! Happy trails buddy.

(Some of the trail scrambles over these beautiful rock formations, with a massive drop to the river valley below- maybe 800m/2,400ft?)

After company last night it was strange to have the hut to myself!

For some reason I had cellphone reception problems so couldn't get in touch with people or check on weather... A quiet night!

Day 125. On to the Pelorus Track!
(Lots of windfall, mostly cleared from the track)

Hackett hut was disappointing as some idiots had defaced it! Grrrrrrrr.

I met two older hunters at the next hut, who were great guys. They offered fresh venison and backcountry meals even! Good on ya, gents. On towards Roebuck.
(Shortly after this shot I met a young Belgian guy doing an acclimatisation walk, and then a group of mountain bikers- a busy section!)

I was getting a bit low on energy...
... Then I heard the familiar call of kakas! I whistled one down and had a sing off competition with the curious parrot. I'm not sure who won, but he sounded a bit miffed as he flew away. That's  all I'm saying! Across a very inviting looking river to Roebuck hut. River swim!!!

That really perked me up! Oh look, a worm!

Day 126. Another night to myself. Then I ran into a bunch more TA trampers as I headed to Captain Creek. First, two Frenchmen by the names of Bernard and Olivier who traded some trail info with me. They also suggested I could get to Pelorus Bridge today... Hmmmm. But first, a robin to play with.

I then met two Kiwis (one introduced himself as Luke), and a Belgian. Luke had a vicious-looking spear which he was hoping would get him dinner! I decided to walk to Pelorus Bridge campsite... Hot and dusty, but worth it for a shower! :-)
Oh, for updated trail notes- Captains Creek is bridged!

A great campsite, and a cafe! Bliss.

It was a nice night chatting to Dutch, French, Aussie and Kiwi couples. The Dutch even gave me beer! Cheers!

Day 127. Farm and road walk into Havelock. An easy day really, with a refreshment stop in Canvastown.

By mid afternoon I was ensconced at the Blue Moon backpackers and happily stuffing my face with pies and wine, and meeting new friends. Finally managed to publish a new blog update. Sorry about the wait, folks.

Day 128. Zero day! Pies, food resupply, blog writing...
(This is what happens when you get a boatbuilder to design your motor home)

Another rest day tomorrow, then the last leg of my journey. I'm feeling a little sad about that, but also excitement about starting a new chapter in my life in Wellington! 

Please don't forget, this walk is for charity- give if you can, and spread the word!