The seven days between these two towns were full of reminiscing and a handful of different landscapes that summed up our entire trip in just a few days. There was farmland, logging roads, paved roads, barren mountain tops, beech forest, tussock and jungle. Yup, all in seven days.
Day One Hundred and Eighteen: 9 km
We woke up in Te Anau to downpour rain. As has been the case with every other South Island town, staying an extra night wasn’t an option. Absolutely everywhere was booked out. With that, we hit the road, stuck our thumbs out, and waited a horribly wet forty minutes before an angel called Alini picked us up. I don’t think she fully understood what we were doing until we arrived back where we hopped off the trail the day before. She looked at us and asked “somebody is picking you up right?” We retold our story and after a twenty minute side of the road conversation, Alini bid us good luck and farewell and we headed off for an easy (but wet) 2.5 km on the highway and a further 6.5 km on a farm road to reach our hut for the night: Lower Princhester Hut. It was a full house of 8 on mattresses and 1 (Jess) sleeping on the floor.
Day One Hundred and Nineteen: 16 km
Heading into the hills, we were surprised with a track with so many elements all in one. There was tussock, forest, jungle, beech forest, and so much muck!
The tussocks were marshy more so than we had experienced before. The sloshing noise was not pleasant.
Day One Hundred and Twenty: 21 km
We all woke up to frozen socks and shoelaces. From Aparima Hut, we climbed up to the Telford Tops where we got our first (far away) views of Bluff!
From there we made our way down towards a makeshift campground just before a long private farm section. It was a tent city with 5 tents of SOBO hikers and 2 tents of NOBOs (North bounders).
Day One Hundred and Twenty One: 48 km
Jess and Brad decided to start hiking at 6:30am. Did we join them? Yeah right. Our rule is if the sun is still sleeping then so are we! We left about an hour behind at 7:30am. Our tent fly was crunchy with frost on this cool “summer” morning. When we shook out our tent fly, it looked like it was snowing.
Our walk took us through mostly farmland. Paddocks and paddocks of sheep and cattle.
We saw one herd of cattle being herded down the farm road that we were suppose to be walking on. We clung to the fence while we waited for them to pass.
From one farm, it was into another farm but first we passed through this gorgeous grove of eucalyptus trees.
Sheep Adventures of the Day!
Later on in the day, Matt noticed a lamb that wasn’t running away when we passed (unusual for a sheep!). A closer look revealed he was completely tangled in a vine that had spun its way around and around his wool. Matt’s superhero instincts led him to immediately jump the barbed wire fence, pin the lamb down and enlist my assistance. Over the barbed wire I went with Matt’s multi tool and we swapped jobs. I held the lamb down gently while Matt began to untangle the mess of vines and cut the lamb’s wool out of the tangle. The vines were around its neck and body and I really believe the lamb wouldn’t have gotten out on its own. It let us work on its tangle for several minutes but the minute it was totally free, it bolted away from us and went on to munch on some grass. He’s the guy on the right. His friend on the left seemed much more curious in who us lamb rescuers were.
Despite us yelling “You’re welcome!”, we didn’t get much attention from our friend. Another lamb rescue, another day, we continued our walk.
Not five minutes later, another bizarre sheep experience. A sheep that did not run away, was not hurt or stuck and rubbed up onto the wire fence next to us. We dared to sneak in a few pets figuring this was a sheep that had witnessed our good deed and wanted to reward us by finally letting us snuggle one of them! He even stomped his foot at us when we stopped petting him. Of course we started petting him again.
Our day was complete and we continued on our way until sunset before setting up camp in a deer paddock for the night.
Day One Hundred and Twenty Two: 25 km
It rained through the night but by morning it had stopped and the wind picked up enough for us to pack up a dry tent.
Our goal of the day was to try and get a mattress in Martins Hut that night. It would be our last Hut on the trail and there were only 4 mattresses up for grabs.
The views of Bluff were even better from this section and the track was beautiful.
Actually, it was crazy muddy. I’m talking knee deep constantly kind of muddy. However, reflecting on it now, I only really remember enjoying it. It was a good ending to the Te Araroa considering it’s exactly how it began.
Sure enough, the hut was full but with good company to share a special last hut night with. It was a rustic historic hut too which made it the perfect Kiwi backcountry experience.
Bonus: (Surprisingly) No mice.
Day One Hundred and Twenty Three: 30km
Nice flat walk out of the forest following alongside an old mining water race for about 23km before exiting out onto the road to Colac Bay.
Three hours to the road, we were talking about DOC signs warning about wasps in the backcountry but we hadn’t had anyone stung the whole tramp. Blair then told us he had the bad luck of being stung three times at the same moment in the Richmond Ranges. I was so thankful that wasn’t me!
An hour later: Stung. I definitely cried. I’ve been stung before when I was younger but oh my god. It was the most pain I’ve been in this whole tramp I think. My ankle starting swelling up almost immediately (I don’t have much of a tolerance for any bug bite). Luckily Colac Bay had a bar and a campground. The burger and beer helped me forget about the pain for at least a little while.
One Hundred and Twenty Four: 44 km
14km of road and paddock walking took us to Riverton which then led us into Oreti Beach. Fitting that we should also have a beach section in the last couple of days. Haven’t seen beach since the Queen Charlotte!
Beach walking is pretty straightforward but this day we left in crazy winds and an incoming high tide. Nevertheless, we battled our way through, hopping up on the dunes and over barbed wire fences when the tide got too high. Then back to the beach before 8 km of road to Invercargill.
What we lost on this stretch:
Quinn: map case & compass
Jess: hiking poles
Tent City at Telford Camp- reminiscing with Brad, Jess, Chloé, Robin and Matt about the trip and watching the NOBOs go about. Five days in, they have no idea how crazy their adventure is going to be. Meanwhile, Robin whittled himself a hiking stick to replace his proper one that broke earlier on in the day.
Seeing our first DoC sign with time to Bluff!
How the sand on Oreti Beach made me feel like Godzilla.
Playing Spot It!, a favourite card game of ours that we picked up in Glenorchy. German and French shouting and a crew of very competitive trampers.
Seeing Bluff for the first time atop Telford Tops.