Te Araroa NOBO (Days 20-23)

Day 20

My day of bicycling was not nearly as enjoyable or relaxing as I had hoped. After keeping my bike in my room overnight, I brought it out intending to begin the day a little later: 9:15AM. As I hopped on my rented bike, the pedals moved but the bike didn’t. I don’t have a ton of experience with bikes or bike repairs, so I asked for help from a fellow biker to get the chain back on track. Oops.

I cycled to the Alps to Ocean track, and I was quite sure that I was headed the right way. After biking nearly 5k, I ran into the bikers who I had met for dinner and breakfast. This can’t be right – they were headed in a different direction than me. They pointed me back the way I came. Oops.

I don’t know how I missed the turn-off to the road, but I cycled back that way and saw the sign for a turn-off. I made a hard right and started down the dirt path. Up to this point it had been gravel, so I was slightly concerned. My concern grew as the track got more and more steep, bounding over tree roots and massive rocks. At one point, I no longer felt safe to bike down hill, and I walked my bike down a steep descent. Once at the bottom, I realized I had taken a tramping track. Oops.

I got onto the road, followed the signs for the Alps to Ocean Track, and got back onto the gravel in a few kilometers. Soon, the track narrowed, and soon after that, a group of cyclists was riding towards me. Being from America, I attempted to hug the right side of the trail as the cyclists headed my way yelled, “Keep left.” Ah! New Zealand! Oops.

I ended up cycling a little over 21 miles, and I made it to Twizel Holiday Park. The bike rental company traded me my bag for their bike, and I was glad to be back in my hiker element. I’ve read how biking this section worked for a lot of hikers… I’m not one of them!

I spent the rest of the day exploring the central area of Twizel and resupplying at 4 Square. My plans are changing, and I’m hoping to hitch to Mount Cook tomorrow! Wahoo!

Day 21

After checking the weather for Mount Cook, it seemed that visiting right now wasn’t the best option. It looks like rain for the next three days followed by very cold, windy days. Since all the lodges and huts are fully booked, I’d be staying in my tent. The wind can get extremely dangerous in the mountains, so Mount Cook will have to be another day’s adventure. This meant that my day was open to any possibility.

I was up with the first light, ate my overnight oats, packed up my tent, and made my way to the road. I started walking north and stuck out my thumb at every car that passed. After about 20 minutes, a car slowed down. It was a curly-haired guy who let me know he was headed to Christchurch. Awesome!

I loaded my bag into the boot, and we were off. I hadn’t a clue what today would lead to, and this was turning into an awesome adventure. My hitch was with a 23-year-old Kiwi named Henry. He was in Twizel for a rowing regatta. He’s been rowing since high school, and the 7-day regatta in Twizel was a national competition. It was so exciting to hear his story! He’s traveled to England and Italy with rowing, and this winter he’s headed to Canada for his next big competition. I asked him about future plans, and he’s hoping to make it to the Paris Olympics with rowing. Incredible!

Henry picked me up just after 8AM, and he was on his way to the airport in Christchurch. We rode together for over 3 hours, and it was such a fun hitch! We drove through a massive farm, and he showed me where his family kept their dairy cows and where the grain is that had just been harvested. He pointed out the house that his family lived in near Fairlie. We stopped in Dunsandel for a coffee, and he dropped me off in Rolleston. I’m writing from a McDonald’s right now (thankful for the free WiFi! – I got to FaceTime with my Mom! Yay!), and I have either a 15 mile walk or 21 minute car ride into the city center. I’m thinking I’ll stick out my thumb and continue into town!

Woohoo! I made it to Christchurch! After leaving the McDonald’s, I went to a stoplight and waited for a car to pick me up. After about 15 minutes, a couple in their mid-40’s let me ride with them into town. They were headed to the hospital to visit their son. He’s been sick for a while, and I could feel the heaviness as we drove.

I’ve really enjoyed hitching, because I’ve met so many different people with so many different stories.

Once in town, my first order of business was to book accommodation for the night. I found an airbnb just outside of the city center with availability for the night, so I was sorted. That meant that I had the day to explore! One thing that stands out to me from exploring Christchurch today is the art! There are murals on just about every street. I enjoyed weaving in and out of roads to see all that I could see!

The road I walked down primarily had a large Asian influence – I passed by at least 5 Asian markets (Indian, Korean, and a few simply called Asian Market). This was great news for me for multiple reasons. First, I love Asian food! So, I was able to have multiple small lunches throughout the day. Second – and more important for the trail – Asian markets typically sell dried, packaged vegetables. This is key for backpacking meals! I can buy a package of 2-minute noodles and add dried vegetables to them in the mountains! Woohoo! I stocked up on shiitake mushrooms and dried peas.

After beginning my resupply for Arthur’s Pass, I made my way to MacPac to buy a new pair of socks since my last pair bit the dust on day 16. I wandered back towards my airbnb to commence laundry and a shower. It sure is nice to be in a town – even for a short while!

Days 22 & 23

Still off the trail. I was hoping to return sooner, but it’s supposed to storm all day on Wednesday. The next section of my hike is through Arthur’s Pass, and the wisest option is to wait until the storm has passed.

So, days 22 & 23 were filled with exploring Christchurch, resupplying, replenishing calories (I ate SOOOO much while in town!), and taking pictures of murals. I found a really fun bouldering gym (called Uprising) where I spent a few hours attempting to climb up the easiest graded paths. Some people are so incredibly talented and brave; it was fun to watch climbers launch themselves to different holds and climb upside down.

A couple days in Christchurch was good enough for me! I’m ready to get back on trail. I got a couple hitches back towards Methven, which is where I’ll take a shuttle back to the TA.

Side note: it takes way too long to upload and post pictures here, but if you’re interested in seeing my trip through my eyes, head on over to my Instagram page. I just posted the murals from Christchurch, and I’ll be posting pictures/stories there as I continue my journey!

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