2648 – 2676 Queenstown

Yet another late start but this time due to breakfast at a cafe.

The walk out of Arrowtown was good. The day was bright and beautiful. It wasn’t until later when I crossed paths with the Belgians that I realised I had missed a sign and begun circumnavigating Lake Hayes.

That was pretty much it for walking. The point of the day was to go to Queenstown, buy a Kindle, and then go onto to Glenorcy to do the Routeburn before rejoining Te Araroa.

Hitching was easy. I walked past a ute pulling out of a sideboard and he asked me if I wanted a lift.

The Kindle mission failed. I had been told in Wanaka that Whitcolls in Queenstown sold them. Whitcolls said Noel Lemmings in Franktown sold them…..bugger.

Queenstown has changed a fair bit since I was last here 30 years ago. Development is everywhere, jets land and take off constantly, roads are packed with traffic, there is nearly always a helicopter in the sky, and people throng the streets. All in all, it’s a frigging nightmare. Couldn’t wait to escape.

We have decided to do the Routeburn and then rejoin Te Araroa so we are leaving Queenstown and continuing to Glenorcy. Glenorcy, however, is far nicer. Although I could be biased as I stayed in a pub. ’nuff said really.

Hindsight

  • Queenstown is very busy in peak season. Book ahead.
  • You have to go through Glenorcy anyway so you may as well just go there.
  • Don’t break your Kindle.

Queenstown Map


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2625 – 2648 Arrowtown

This morning my tent was covered in frost and my towel was frozen. I, however, was toasty leading to a very late start. Well, probably that and the bloody great hill.

Rose’s Pass took time, chocolate, jet planes, a snickers bar, and a litre or so of water. There is always a hill in the morning, there is always a hill at night.

After the ascent came a steep descent and then luckily I read the notes as we could just walk down the Arrow River which is a sparkly, mica laden, wonderland of clear cold water. I wish it hadn’t of been so cold as I desperately wanted to swim in it.

It looks like people are still mining for gold up here as there was a digger on the side of the river where the track meets it.

This cut considerable amounts of time off my journey. The river, not the digger. Well, that and a lift from a Volkswagen dealer through the Arrowtown gorge.

So, here I am in Arrowtown. A large Asian town in Otago. It looks that way anyway. Must still be Chinese new year. Managed to find a campsite though.

Hindsight

  • Always read the notes.
  • Book in advance if it is peak season.
  • Eventually you look at hills in terms of food. If I eat a snicker bar 10 minutes before the bottom and then some jet planes halfway up, it will be easy. It works if you time it right.

Arrowtown Map


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2600 – 2625 Roses hut

It was a good idea to wait out the rain in Glendu as it nuked down. In the morning there was snow on the tops of the mountains as well.

The road out of Glendu was slightly more productive than the road in and in no time at all we were sitting at the top of Jack Hall pass being snowed on (gently) while eating lunch. Looking at the mountains ahead of us they seemed to be made of a collection of triangles placed together.

By the time we made it to the second hut it was still only 2:00pm so the decision was made to press on to Rose’s hut. Actually, the decision was made to go to an alternate hut but when we got there it was someones crib. It appears the map was wrong.

Possibly this was a bit pushy and we never made it to the hut but instead camped at the bottom of the basin. That was fine the hut was full by all accounts anyway.

It should also be pointed out that our lateness had nothing to do with a certain shortcut. 🙂

Hindsight

  • Quite a few of the Maps are wrong in some way. The map is not the terrain.
  • Sometimes shortcuts don’t work out.
  • The valley Roses Hut was in is beautiful.

Roses Hut Map


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2586 – 2600 Glendhu

Last night was fantastic. It ended at about 10:00pm with Martin (Austrian haemophilia researcher) showing us the king of all dances, the slow foxtrot.

I showed him my only dance move, which my grandmother taught me, and he instantly recognised it as the Charleston. I have only another 30 or so moves to go.

The path to Glendhu leads around the foreshore and seemed to take forever so by the time I got to Glendhu I was fully uninspired by walking.

There was one amusing bit where we noticed New Zealand takes pains to point out weird history. For instance, there is a sign that extols a butchery that fed 50 people and another that explains the Wellington tree. It seemed to be famous because it didn’t grow well?

To add to my malaise, rain was forecast for the next day so I threw my hands up into the air, gave into laziness, and stayed to wait it out. Silvin bravely carried on. Well, not really bravely as he was ahead of me when I decided so he didn’t know.

Hindsight

  • As you go through the Lake Country you realise the people who did really well were the bakers.
  • Poor motel people have the worst customers.
  • Glendhu Bay Motorcamp is a great place to stay.

Glendhu Map


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2560 – 2586 Wanaka

OK, I cheated. I wanted to get to Wanaka quickly to but a Kindle and do some shopping so Angelynn and I hitched while Silvan walked.

Although the kindle purchase failed I still consider the idea successful due to having a rest day and buying new underwear and boot creme.

I am unsure whether my boots are going to make the last 500km. There are holes developing and cracks widening. They don’t seem to be handling the constant soaking and drying very well.

Wanaka is a nice town but so many people and so busy we all feel a bit overwhelmed.

Which reminds me…..

Beards. I have always wanted one but have never really had a good shot at growing one until now and that ended today. What annoying things. You can’t eat without food getting in it or chewing on yourself. Soup is a tragedy. Even a drink ends up half in your mouth and half in your moustache. I felt like the Mitchell and Webb moustache skit. So it’s gone and now I have a strange white face. This may take some getting used too.

Hindsight

  • Life is easier without a beard.
  • It seems like I do a lot of hitching when I reread this. I think it was because I was taking the whole thing a lot less seriously and just having fun.
  • Wanaka is a very nice place.

Wanaka Map


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2528 – 2560 Lake Hawea

My tent has started leaking through the base. I don’t know why. I camped on a high spot. This morning there was a little lake in it.

At some point someone worked out that we did roughly 2000m of elevation changes today. It certainly feels like it.

The first order of the day was 9.7km of rough terrain down the banks of the Timaru River until reaching a path that the notes say,”climbs steeply to the treeline” in a classic piece of understatement. 900m elevation up a shitty bluff would have been closer to the truth.

My only saving grace was that I had run out of cigarettes so I powered up the bluff and we had lunch at Stodys Hut.

The next part of the track was listed as a Te Araroa highlight and it was. It ended up on Breast Hill 1578m overlooking Lake Hawea and Mt Aspiring national park before “descending steeply” down to the lake.

Dinner was a seafood salad and a bottle of Coopers Creek Pinot Noir, for medicinal purposes, whilst the mountains we had descended glowed rose in the sunset.

Hindsight

  • The walk from Breast Hill to Lake Hawea is one of the few places I would dread going NoBo.
  • NoBo means North Bound.

Lake Hawea Map


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2501 – 2528 Timaru River

Nice sunrise, long day.

We tried to get out early as there was a buildup of T.A. walkers at the river. Further up the valley we found out there was about to be a buildup of cyclists as well as the “Pioneer” bike race is on.

Angelynn wanted to take a slightly alternative route, basically ridgeline instead of valley, and I said I would join her. Good decision.

The first hill was fairly steep but we were entertained by the mountain bikers getting off and pushing their bikes. Angelynn was being very supportive, clapping and encouraging them, whereas I thought cries of,

“Your almost halfway there!”

…had a definite downside to them.

Once on top of the ridgeline things got considerably easier and we were treated to one landscape on one side of us and another on the other.

I also found a hat. It is a little to small for me (eg: I’m slightly bigheaded) but it works. The beard on the other hand is terrible. How do people deal with them? The hair in your mouth, the left over food… not for me I think. Which is a pity because I always wanted one. Perhaps another trim.

Silvin had gone the proper path and when we rejoined it we found an arrow on the ground with my name in rocks. I can see he is still confident in my navigation skills. 🙂

Hindsight

  • Alternate routes are good. That top path was incredible.
  • I think the TA keeps you off the tops due to weather.
  • A hat is a good idea.

Timaru River Map


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2473 – 2501 Ahuriri River

Humans are an interesting species. Apparently very social. This must be true as out of the 4 acres of empty campsite, the French set up right next to me last night and then proceeded to wake up at 6:00am and make a hell of a racket.

It could be said that I didn’t want to get up this morning.

We still left before them.

My compliments to whoever did the tracks around Lake Ohau as they are relatively nice and well kept. 

This one led up a valley and over a pass and then down another valley and then I lost track. By the time I had realized that we hadn’t yet come to the end of the valley we were almost 10kms further on at the Ahuriri river.

Crossing wasn’t a huge problem although we did link arms in anticipation. Downstream to cross one braid and then up to cross two more. Nothing to it. Time for food and bed.

The French have turned up again and decided to camp right next to us. I like them, it is just I would like anybody to be a little further away.

Hindsight

  • The Ahuriri might be a problem if it was raining.
  • If you don’t feel like getting up in the morning, do it anyway.

Ahuriri River Map


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2444 – 2473 Lake Ohau

Just about everything in Twizel is named after McKenzie  (drive, cafe, motors, etc…). This doesn’t detract from the town at all. Twizel, at first visit, has been a fantastic town.

Leaving was a shame but we have to be moving on. Can’t say I am very energetic today but the next stop is only 20kms away (actually it turned out to be 29kms).

On the way to Lake Ohau we passed a salmon farm, some irrigation, and Meridians rowing club.

The lake is nice, with what looks to be quite a variable water level according to the driftwood.

Beside the campground we are staying at is a new development called the Lake Ohau Alpine Village. Very new, quite nice, some amazing views of the lake and the mountains behind it.

Later on we decided to go to dinner at the lodge. It was a little way away so hitchhiking was in order and we got picked up by a nice Chinese couple. They were looking for the lodge as well but somehow we all missed and took an accidental tour up the lake.

There were some other TA hikers as well. We had dinner with them and then drank wine while looking at the view which is pretty much the back side of Mt Cook. There was even a spa pool that the girls availed themselves.

Hindsight

Lake Ohau Map


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2373 – 2444 Twizel

I’m not completely sure what happened but some people we passed yesterday were going to Tekapo to ride bicycles to Lake Ohau with Angelynn.

They turned up shortly before dark with the plan to get up today at 5:00am to walk the last 16km before 10:00am when the bycicle arrived at Tekapo. A plan I point blank refused to consider after walking 40km.

We arose at 7:30am, a far more reasonable hour, and after roughly 200m of walking I suggested to Silvan that we should hitch to Tekapo and have a Zero Day. He said,”no” for maybe 30 seconds and then said,”hell, why not”.

It is possible we expected it to take more that 5.5s to get a ride. None the less we were in Tekapo in record time at which point we decided that biking to Twizel possibly wasn’t a bad idea.

This is why I am sitting outside a rather expensive motel, drinking a glass of Shiraz and cursing my knees. The cycle life is not for me.

But hell, we made it and it was an alternative in the notes. I rest my case, and knees. Also, I hope I don’t see another bike for another 20 years.

Hindsight

Twizel Map


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