I’m currently on the Interislander ferry to Picton on the South Island of New Zealand. Last night Tom, Will and I reached the southern terminus of the North Island and celebrated with a few beers on the edge of a football field before retreating into what we thought was forest well after hiker midnight. Turns out the forest was actually in the middle of a golf course, and when we got up to leave this morning we had to dodge some folks teeing off for their morning round.
It was a busy day for us in Wellington today before catching the 5pm ferry. I needed to purchase new shoes, pick up my two packages from the post office, repost what I don’t need, shop for 21 days of food for resupply for the south and buy a number of other small items in between grabbing a quick lunch, charging my phone and bussing to the ferry. We made the bus by the skin of our teeth carrying about 5 shopping bags each, then we were 3 of the last people to board the boat.
We’ll arrive in Picton tonight, sleep on the outskirts of town and then post three food drops to places that don’t have decent spots to buy food along the way (St Arnaud, Boyle Village and Arthur’s Pass). We then need to catch a small charter boat to the start of the Queen Charlotte track where the trail begins again on one of NZ’s great walks.
It felt like a huge accomplishment finishing the North Island, especially considering how hard it was at the beginning. There were certainly some days where I wasn’t sure I was going to make it all the way through. I was so miserable and upset by the state of the ‘trail’ and felt like I was the only one battling it out in full until I met Will and Tom. Not only are they great company, I’ve adopted their frugal ways of avoiding spending money on accomodation, which has actually been quite fun despite the cold showers in random toilet blocks and only washing my clothes in sinks. Today I washed my socks for the first time since about two weeks, and have just grown accustomed to the general level of hiker filth I’m existing in.
The Tararua Ranges were magnificent and we got so lucky with the weather considering all the horror stories we’d been told. It gave us our first taste of real mountain trails, and I’m excited to see what the South Island has in store. Will’s foot is still troubling him a bit, but we all got new shoes in Wellington today so hopefully that will help!
My health has been good except for recently fainting at the top of Mount Kaukau after probably going a little too fast after eating half a pizza and 1/4 of a banana bread loaf. Luckily Tom was with me and I woke up to him holding my head after I fell and hit my chin at the top of the lookout. Despite a rather large bruise I was fine, and we still ended up walking 30km to get to the southern terminus of the trail yesterday evening. I’ll be a little more careful on the ups, and will try not to climb large hills after binge eating in towns!
Seeing the wind and waves over Cook Straight right now I’m so glad I didn’t try to kayak over. I was pretty gung-ho about it before the trip, but I decided early on that hiking this trail was going to be tough enough, and it probably would have been more for bragging rights than actually wanting to do the paddle and figuring out the logistics (or maybe I’m just scared shitless, which seeing it now I have every right to be!)
I think the South Island will go quite quickly once we get started, and I really want to savour these last two months of freedom from society’s demands. This thru-hike really feels like an escape from the ‘real world’, and even though each day of walking is still tough on the body and the mind sometimes, I’m just so glad to be out here.
More from the South Island soon!