Day 107 – last day

Distance walked – 34 kms

Invercargill to Bluff. 

I spent the last night in my tent under some pine trees on the outskirts of town. 

The first 11 kms were on a bike trail through the wetlands south of town. The trail then connected with state highway 1 and there was about 15 k of road walking (not the best way to finish) the road was surprising busy and there were non stop trucks heading to port Bluff and a local quarry. With only a narrow shoulder it was fairly hairy walking. 

About 8 km from the end, the trail heads off the road and goes behind Bluff hill. This reminded me of the islands of Scotland. It was rugged and rough, with the weather adding to the atmosphere. 

Bluff hill walkway

As fate would have it it started to pour down with about 5 kms to go. 

Rugged south coast

Marten and I walked to the end point and reached it without any fanfare. I was glad to reach the end knowing what I had achieved and looking forward to heading home to see family and friends. 

We took the obligatory photos under the Bluff sign. But didn’t hang about because of the inclement weather.  

Done

Marten and me

We were pretty happy and an elderly couple were standing nearby and asked us what we were celebrating, so we told them our story. They were well impressed.  I dropped in the conversation that we just need to get back to invercargill for a hot shower. Without hesitation the elderly gentleman said “moira, were taking these boys back to Invercargill”, so we got in his car and he dropped us off at our accomodation. Gold. 

Reflecting back on the journey, at the end of the north island I enjoyed the people I met, genuine and helpful kiwi’s and other hikers. But now that I’m done the best thing about the trip has been the encouragement and suppport I have received from my family and friends. There are too many to mention, but you know who you are! 

You drove me around (to the trail), you gave me a bed, you fed me, you washed my clothes, you encouraged me with your kind words (and emails), you walked sections with me and for that I am truely overwhelmed and thankful. 

Some stats:

3000 kms of trail walked (plus a whole lot more getting to shops, accomodation) 

100 days of walking. 

7 rest days. 6 in the north island and only 1 in the South Island. 

I averaged 30 kms per day. 

I used 5 pairs of shoes/boots

I used 4 gas canisters. 

I lost 3 toenails 

I went through 2 phones. 

I lost 17 kgs (which was a little to much) 

I slept in my tent, back country huts, youth hostels (yes I see the irony in that), a motel, friends house, friends of friends house, a bad weather shelter and with family. 

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Day 106

Distance walked – 45 + 4 kms

Colac bay to Invercargill. 

I had a late start today as I had heard from my mate Marten that he was close and was going to catch up to me. I waited around for a few hours so we could walk the the last few days together. 

We got away from Colac Bay by 1045 am, heading to Riverton. It was an easy walk along the beach and over a hill (of course) to reach Riverton for a late lunch of pies, custard squares and coffee. 

The weather started to close in and the tide was also high as we walked after lunch. 

Angry Oreti beach

It was about 20 kms along the beach and we got caught in the high tide. At one point the waves were breaking on us and the sand bank, we were essentially trapped between the two. This forced us to climb the dunes and walk parallel to the beach in a pine forest/metal road for an hour or two. Once the tide receded it was back on the beach which was particularly hard going in soft wet sand. 

We were going to camp along the way but there were no suitable spots, so we forged on. We reached  the end of the beach section and the turn to head inland again only to realise it was only 8 km to town, so we made a b-line for the city, driven by the thought of a MacDonalds hunger buster. Now, I dont usually do junk food but walking the trail my metabolism has sped up and my body consumes everything, including itself. I don’t know exactly how much weight Ive lost, but it was 15 kg in just the north island and the way my clothes fit now, I might have dropped a couple a couple more. 

Bluff in the distance

We made it to town, had a feed and then walked to the out skirts of the city to find a camp spot (which we did in some pine trees). 

Last day tomorrow. A brief 34 kms to Bluff. 

Day 103, 105 and 105

Distance walked 

Day 103 – 30 kms

Day 104 – 24 kms

Day 105 – 30 kms

Day 103. I woke in Birchwood sheep station. I had stayed in the old shearers quarters. The owner popped her head in and brought me warm banana chocolate chip muffins for brekfast. I decided to have a late start as I was only doing 30 kms today. 

I left around 10 am and went up and over a hill on the station into a pine forest. 

View from hill looking north to the hills I walked over a few days before

The pine forest turned into native bush, mostly beech. Once out the other side I stopped for lunch. A north bounder walked past and we had a chat for 15 mins. Poor bugger was only a few days in, green and looking fresh. I on the other hand look like a wreak, skinny, gear all worn out and tanned. 

It was a short walk along the Tuatapere rd and through another pine forest before heading up a country road to the last bush sention of the trail. A truck stopped beside me on the road and asked if I wanted a lift. Of course I said no, but asked if I could call in for water. I spent an hour there chatting to the farmer and his wife. They sent me on my way with filtered water, a bag of apples and a spot on their farm to camp. It was a sweet spot beside a river. 

Secluded, sheltered and all to myself. River is on the right in the trees

Day 104 – 24 kms. 

I left around 0730 and saw a young Canadian couple camped on the side of the road. I walked with them for the day through a forest to a place called bald hill. The only way to describe this track was muddy. The mud was thigh deep in places…… crazy!!

VERY deep mud

Once I got to the top of bald hill I got my first glimpse of the south coast and bluff. I was very excited to the see the end so near. It made me think that it’s good to have an end to a journey, but in the end it’s the journey that matters. Edit

Bluff on my right shoulder, more hills to go over on my left shoulder

It was more up and down hills, through mud and bush until I got to the last hut of the trail (tent for the rest of the nights). She was old and rustic, but it rained in the night and I was dry…. most excellent. 

Marten’s hut

There was 8 people there that night and only 4 bunks, so 2 were on the floor and 2 had to sleep in their tents (I got a bunk😝)

Day 105 – 30 kms

I left the hut around 8 and was in bush for most of the day. The track followed an old goldmine water race for 23 kms. It was build by Chinese miners in the 1870’s and the man power to dig it is incredible. There were tunnels and a 2 meter deep, one meter wide channel for 23 kms

Tunnel in the water race

In some places you actually walk in the old water race itself. 


The track comes out on to state hwy 99 and from there it was a short 6 km road walk to Colac bay where I stayed in the motor camp for the night and went to the local pub for a beer and pizza. 

90 kms to go!!

Day 101 and 102

Distance walked 

Day 101 – 23 kms 

Day 102 – 41 kms

Day 101 – after a resupply in Te Anau I got a ride back along state hwy 94 to the trail. It was a short 6 km walk up metal farm road to the first hut with views of the hills ahead. 


From the hut it was up and over a saddle into the Takitimu ranges. This was a mix of beech forest and alpine tussock. I wasn’t sure if it was blocks of beech forest in an alpine area or blocks of alpine tussock in a beech forest. I do know, that the tussock fields were boggy and wet and it was 3 inches or more of water all day. 


I made it to the hut early that day only to find it full with other hikers. Thankfully, the hut had been replaced a few years back and they left the old one. I slept in there. It was rickety and rough but still dry!

Day 102 – I didn’t get much sleep after 3 am as it was bloody freezing  last night. I had on all my clothes but resisted sleeping in my puffer jacket so I would have something warm to put on in the morning. There was a heavy frost on the ground and it looked like rain – great!

Today was the Telford track (true) and heading to Telford camp (that’s true to). The trail was all forest, easy going and well groomed.

The forest was beautiful with ferns and beech trees. 


 I stopped at a hut a long the was for lunch. It was meant to be a 8 hr walk but I got there in 4. After lunch there was a bit of a climb with fantastic views south. 

I made it to the camp site by 1430 hrs and thought there was still plenty of time for more walking so I decided to press on for the afternoon. Unfortunately, I was on back country station and there was no camping allowed (or any good hidden sites to stealth camp) I ended up doing another 21 kms to get back onto some sort of road. 

It was getting late and I found a farm that had a hut on it for Te Araroa walkers to stay in (for a modest fee of course). So I stayed there, had some food and rested my weary bones. 

Day 98, 99 and 100

Distance walked 

Day 98 – 14+ 6 (on the way to start of track)

Day 99 – 38 kms

Day 100 – 43 kms

I left Queenstown around lunchtime aiming to make it to the start of the trail at the south west end of lake wakatipu. The trail stops in queenstown  and recommences at the greenstone trail past Glenorchy (you either take a boat or car ) It took 5 rides, the most memorable were a car of Chinese tourists who thought I was crazy and insisted we have a family photo taken. I ended up walking a bit between rides but got there sooner than expected so I walked to the first hut. 

It was a groomed track in beech forest with plenty of waterfalls 


And over a gorge to Greenstone hut. 


The next day it was in the Mavora lakes track. It soon turned muddy and stayed they way for most the day. The trail followed a valley of tussock and water for a number of kilometres. 


I made my way down to a hut for lunch and fell asleep on a bed for an hour. It was nice!! The track didn’t get much better in the afternoon but the views made up for it. 


The trail comes to a 4×4 trail along the north mavora lake and I followed that till I reached the camp site at the end. The place full of 4 wheel drive enthusiast and there was a high proportion of mullets amoung them!!! I was buggered so pitched my tent, ate and went to sleep. 

Day 100 – big day today, 43 kms and into te anau for resupply. The trail slipped down the side of south Mavora lake in more beech before having to wade across the Mavora river. It was only waist deep and fairly benign. 

Mavora lake

So, after this photo it began to rain so the phone/camera got put in a dry bag and in my pack. 

Once across the river I followed it south for 20 kms on its banks. It was long grass, swampy and hard going at times in the rain. There was no shelter so I didn’t stop for lunch as it was still raining. 

I made it to the road and walked the gravel until it reached the highway. 

I got to te anau to get more food as I have a 7 day stretch beginning in the morning from the Mavora valley to the bottom of the island (before heading east along the coast to bluff). 

Only a couple of hundred kms to go now. 

Day 94, 95, 96 and 97 – Wanaka to Queenstown 

Day 94 – 25 kms
Day 95 – 18 kms

Day 96 – 30 kms

Day 97 – 22 kms


I left wanaka early and headed to the supermarket for resupply of food. As usual I brought to much and of course you have to carry it. 

The trail follows past the tree in the lake, which I understand is the most photographed tree in the world (any fact checkers out there to assist?)

The trail follows lake Wanaka shores for 16 kms on a nicely formed gravel trail, there were plenty of bike riders on it. It ends at Glendhu bay, where I stopped for some lunch. From there it was in to the hills and up a valley that was filled with beech trees before coming out into an alpine area and the first hut, Fern Burn. 

Looking back down the valley to Lake Wanaka

Apparently that island you can see has a lake on it. So, it’s a lake on an island, on a lake, on an island!

Day 95 – this was a tough day of ups and downs, big ones, often climbing 500 mts in elevation at a time. In all I did close to 2000 mts today. 

The track is called the Motatapu and is / was owned by Country singer Shania Twain. Part of the deal was they had to put in a trail, so I’m sure they picked the biggest hills to go over. It goes over the crown range but more to the west. 

Views to the north down the valley which would have been easier!!

Instead we go over these all day

Day 96 – we left Roses hut and it was straight into another climb up to a saddle. The other side dropped us into the Arrow river which we walked down/ in for about 6 kms. It was only shin deep, but bloody freezing. My feet were numb. 

You get out of the river at Macetown which is an abandoned gold mining town from the 1860’s. Most of the buildings have gone but they have restored a couple. 


The old bakery 

An old homestead

From Macetown it was over Big Hill (that’s the name of the hill, which is never comforting knowing the hills name before you do it) and dropping down into Arrowtown. 

I spent some time wandering through the old Chinese village there, looking at their old shacks and reading the history of the Chinese and the gold prospecting they did. They were tough back then. 

I went into town and had some food and a couple of cold beers in the sun. We left arrowtown and walked to the northern end of Lake Hayes, via the Millbrook golf courses and flash houses, where we set up camp on its shores for the night. 

Arrowtown’s Main Street- very quaint

In the Morning it was up and around lake Hayes and following the Queenstown trail into q-town. It took us up the Kawarau river for a while and then up the shotover and over a historic bridge. 


With great views 


The trail finally reaches lake Wakatipu and the final 6-7 kms follows the lake on a nicely formed track all the way into town. 

I spent the afternoon sorting out gear (and eating). Macpac have been fantastic and replaced my boots for me (I actually upgraded for minimal cost) and I also had to buy some new glasses for second time this trip. 

Days 89 to 93

Distance walked 150 kms. 
Sorry folks, limited photos at this stage as I have had no camera for the past 10 days and am pinching from other guys I’m walking with. The good news is that I have a temp phone and navigation again (and photos for next blog). 

Im feeling a little beat up by the weather, it’s been relentless. Snow, wind, rain and even burning hot sun. C’mon mother nature, I didn’t vote for Trump!! 

I left Twizel and the track follows the ocean to alps bike trail all day. This took me to lake Oahu and the tiny village beside it. 

The following day I reached the 2500 km mark. There was no real celebration. It was marked with the longest river crossing on the trail. It took a good 20 mins to cross the Ahuriri river and was waist deep and swift. A group crossing an hour behind me had issues and one young girl slipped and was swept down steam and caught by another in her party. 

That night I camped beside the river and got up for my nightly 0300 hrs pee. The milky way was out in all its glory. It’s just amazing to see.


 It was cold that night and i had trouble getting back to sleep. I woke in the morning to find that all the condensation inside my tent had frozen. That day I went over Martha saddle and followed the Timaru river down a valley. It was hot, so at about 1700 hrs I just stopped walking and camped on the side of the river. 


The following day it was more river crossings. At least 15 on the one river before a hearty 1100 mt climb up a big bloody hill. Once on he tops the weather camp in and it was wind and rain. The rain was hitting me sideways and stung as it hit, even through my rain coat. 

By lunch it had cleared up for the decent into Hawea. The views of the lake were spectacular and some of the best seen so far. After an hour and a half climb town it was an hour on the road to Hawea. That night we stayed with friends of my brothers, Chris and Jess and their kids Nat and Fia. It was an entertaining night with dinner and telling stories till late. It was also my first shower in two weeks and managed to walk some clothes, bonus!!

The walk from Hawea to Wanaka was straight forward following the Hawea river, pas the man made wave rapids, till it met the Clutha. Then along the Clutha to lake wanaka. The final 5 kms into town follows the lake and goes past all the flash lake front properties!!

Not to sure if I like wanaka, it pretty, but becoming just like Queenstown, expensive and over run with people. 

Anyway, next 3 day gets me Queenstown and will blog again there. 

Day 87 and 88

Distance walked 

Day 87 – 41km

Day 88 – 18 km

I started day 87 with a 5 k walk into Tekapo. I got there around 8 am and straight to the supermarket for food resupply and a pie and bananas for breakfast. 

I stopped and had a look at the church of the good shepherd which is on the lake. Sorry, no camera, no photos!!

The lake was beautiful. Look at my home page, it looks exactly like that. 

I went to a cafe for coffee and scone before hitting the trail again. 

The trail in the afternoon followed the canal from Tekapo to lake Pukaki. 

It was like this exact view for 26 more kms. 

And on it went!

We went past about 2 km of salmon farm in the canal before hitting lake pukaki. Once there we walked for a few more kms till we found a camp site. We knew we were in for big winds so tried to find something sheltered. 

Lake Pukaki

That night we had Gail force winds. Martens tent blew down twice and I got out to help him pitch it again and put rocks on pegs. My tent spent half the night touching my face. I also had a pine cone fall and hit it in the night and put a rip in the fly……..I wasn’t happy as it’s about my last piece of gear that doesn’t have a hole in it, is worn out or broken!!

Good news was it was only a small cone. When we woke we found a mutant pine cone had landed between our tents. It weighed about a kilo and fell from about 10 meters. It could have done some real damage. 

Mutant pine cone

Day 88

Today was a short day into Twizel. Only 18kms. It was around he south end of the lake with views up the lake to mt cook. 

Mt Cook at the end of lake

I got to Twizel at lunch and spent the afternoon eating and fixing my gear. My tent, my cooker/camping stove, walking poles and holes in boots. I did a resupply of food and got sorted for the next 5 days. 

Thankfully Julie has sorted out a spare phone and that’s waiting for me in wanaka, 4-5 days away. I’ll have to sort mine when I get back. 

Days 80 to 86

Distance walked 210 kms(in 6 days!!)

Well the bad news is my phone is still dead!! And im borrowing a hiker friends till I can sort. 

First, big thanks to Joe Cronin for transport around the rakaia and Rangitata rivers

Legend

I left Arthur’s pass and hitched back to the trail. I got picked up by a car load from gloriavale. The kids in the back were Worship and Rightous. Short but weird trip. 

We got hit by the weather bomb and it rained and snowed……lots

Made to to lake Coleridge and joe picked us ap and drove us around the river. It’s was a couple of days walk to the Rangitata river and we made our way down to mt somers. Joe picked us up again in the morning and drove us to the trail head on the south side of the river. 

I’m now relying on Martin for navigation until I get phone sorted so the two of us headed off on the next leg. It was to crooked spur hut, up and down hills, across rivers 

2 days ago we woke to more snow down to 1100 mts and on the hut

We decided to push over the pass in the afternoon this is the highest point of the trail at 2000 mts. Martin and I made a packed that if one wanted to turn back we would. So we set off and the weather got worse and worse. We we close to the top but I was feeling sick, yawning and no longer shivering. I made the all to turn back as we were in the middle of a blizzard!!!

We made it back to the hut and thawed out. Next morning was fine so we had another crack at it. the snow was about 2 feet in places. I also saw the marker we got to the night before. We were only 75 meters from the top before heading back. I was disappointed in losing a day, but don’t regret turning round. 

Made it

Down hill was easy and to camp stream hut for lunch. We pushed on all afternoon and I Duda 44 km day, stopping to camp a few kms short of Tekapo 


Stag Saddle