Te Araroa: Days 1-4
Hello and greetings from the trail! I’m writing this post via my phone, so I think it might be short and kinda messy. Stats out off the way first: I’ve walked just under 50 miles so far, over the course of 3 days.
Day 0: Getting to the Trail
Took the bus from Dunedin to Bluff, which is where the TA begins. I had a wonderful conversation with the bus driver, and at some point while we were talking I noticed that he was driving the bus in his socks. Then he noticed me noticing, and was like, “It’s too hot to wear shoes, don’t you think?” Couldn’t argue with that.
Spent the night at the Bluff Lodge, an old post office that’s been converted into a hostel – super cool place, presided over by an imperious fluffy cat who was clearly not too impressed with me. When I got to the lodge the front door was locked so I wandered around the building to the backyard and stumbled into a New Years Eve barbecue the manager was hosting. She looked at me and said, “You need some food!” No argument there, and it felt wonderful to be welcomed so kindly. At the bbq, I learned that in New Zealand, crayfish are GIGANTIC BEASTS of the ocean – when I think of crayfish the picture in my mind is of the lil guys you see in creeks, not huge lobster monsters. 1 NZ crayfish= main course.
Day 1: Bluff to Invercargill
Got out the door nice and early and walked to the trailhead, which is at Stirling Point, the south end of Bluff. The first part of the day, 5 miles or so, was along a beautiful track through native forest and seaside bluffs, with the waters of the Foveaux Strait off to the west. Next came something… completely different. Basically a 10-mile road walk along a totally flat highway, in the baking sun. I had toyed with the idea of hitchhiking past this section, but I was feeling so happy after the first few miles that I decided to just keep going. Oof, learned a valuable lesson there – my brain roasted in my head, and my feet fell off, and I died, and then I was resurrected as a zombie. Or that’s how it felt. Made it to Invercargill as a pitiful husk and decided to take the next day off to recover from my decision-making!
Day 2: Mooching around Invercargill
Nuff said. But they do have a really nice garden in Invercargill – behold the rose garden in Queens Park:
Day 3: Invercargill to Riverton
This day should have begun with a road walk, but as you’ve seen above, I had just learned A Valuable Lesson, so I took a cab to the trailhead instead. Yes, cheating, but… Then I had a fantastic day of hiking and felt like a happy healthy human being afterwards, so! The trail followed Oreti Beach to the village of Riverton, where I stayed at holiday park (campground) and met a bunch of other hikers. Because the park was the only place to legally pitch a tent, all the hikers ended up there and we all got a chance to meet each other. There are about 10 other people on more or less the same part of the trail, which is maybe more than I expected but very nice from the perspective of companionship.
Day 4: Riverton to Colac Bay
Today was another walk across beautiful countryside, with forests, sheep pastures, and more beach. Ended up at a holiday park with a pub, sitting on the patio now and typing this out! Signing off, must tend the garden of blisters blossoming on my feet.
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