Day 91: Sunday February 3rd, 26.5mi/42.6km
Lake Tekapo Holiday Park (2379.0/727m) to The Pines Campsite (2421.6/552m)
I sleep in way too late, and leave my tent at 7:30am. I hang out in the kitchen, eating and charging my devices. A Dutch biker gives me his extra fried egg! So nice of him. I pack up my tent at 9:30, and we walk back to town. At 10:45am, we finally begin today’s 42km hike, and it’s easy and flat but HOT. Within a few minutes, we walk past the dam and hydropower station.
Right after the dam begins the endless walk along the canal.
Amanda & Ruben catch me up when I take a lunch break along the canal. It’s sooo hot.
We walk on, and celebrate the 2400km mark. Soon after, we walk by a neat salmon farm.
Finally, at 5:30pm, we leave the canal and walk along a lake! Only 12km to go!
It’s finally cooling down, and it’s a nice walk along a bike path named “Alps 2 Ocean”, so there’s no car traffic! Somehow I lose Amanda & Ruben, and I get to camp at 8pm at “The Pines” campsites. There are a TON of RV’s and campervans, but it’s very nice in the trees with the other tents.
I setup in the forest, and walk down to the lake where there’s a great view of the mountains. I’m on my phone until almost 11pm, buying return flights to the US. Sleep comes quickly after that.
Day 92: Monday February 4th, 7.2mi/11.6km
The Pines Campsite (2421.6/552m) to Twizel Holiday Park (2433.2/471m)
I’ve slept in a bit, having been up so late the last two nights. I get walking at 8am, and it’s still cool weather. It’s a nice walk along the Alps2Ocean trail, with heaps of good views!
It gets warm as I approach town, and I arrive at 10:30am to Twizel.
Since it’s early, I have 2nd breakfast at a cafe. The food is mediocre. After the meal, I head down to FourSquare for my resupply, and meet Achille for lunch afterwards. I’m pretty excited, it has been so long since I’ve seen him – since Wellington! I eat an amazing salmon salad, and we have ice cream, and walk to the Twizel Holiday Park to camp.
I pay and setup my tent. It’s hot, so I retreat back to town, and we buy barbecue food for dinner. Back at camp, I do laundry, shower, and we make dinner. By 7pm we are enjoying our barbecue and some beers too! Life is good.
We talk and swap stories until 9pm, then I’m doing more travel planning on my phone until 11pm.
Day 93: Tuesday February 5th, 23.9mi/38.5km
Twizel Holiday Park (2433.2/471m) to Freehold Creek Campsites (2471.7/1068m)
We get up at 6:30am, and pack up and head to the kitchen. After eating breakfast and charging our phones, we start hiking at 8am. We walk back thru town, and after an hour of walking we pass a salmon shop.
It’s impossible to resist visiting, and I order a bagel with salmon. We feed the fish, and it’s so entertaining.
The rest of the morning is easy and flat walking, and we catch up to Bree and Devin from Michigan. I chat with them for an hour, then make a toilet stop. I walk alone until almost lunchtime, when I catch up Achille, Ruben and Amanda, and we decide to have our lunch break at another toilet (it has a bench).
It’s windy, and we continue on another 13km along Lake Ohau.
It’s an easy track, but kinda boring, except for a little monument to the native peoples’ history.
We pass the Michigan girls at a campsite, and keep going to a nice camp in the forest, next to Freehold Creek.
It’s only 6:15pm, which is kinda surprising given all that we’ve seen today. I have dinner at 7pm, and fall asleep by 9pm.
Day 94: Wednesday February 6th, 18.6mi/29.9km
Freehold Creek Campsites (2471.7/1068m) to Tin Hut (2501.6/930m)
I get up at 6:45am, and pack up quickly since it’s late. I’m hiking at 7:30am, and the other three are just behind me. It’s pretty cold and I stay warm by hiking uphill to the saddle. Looking back at Lake Ohau:
At the top, I put on my red puffy coat since it’s still cold, cloudy and windy. At 9:30am it’s finally a little warmer, and I stop for a 2nd breakfast break. Some northbound hikers pass by, and Achille catches me. We walk together the rest of the morning, stopping for lunch at a sunny spot.
It’s finally getting warm, so I take off my coat, and hike in only the fleece vest. We are gradually approaching the Ahuriri River, it’s been in view for a couple hours.
At 2pm, we ford the Ahuriri River, the biggest unbridged river on the TA (this doesn’t include the “hazard zones” of the Rakaia & Rangitata Rivers). The crossing goes smoothly, and the water is only just above knee-deep. Achille and I walk together, following a small river upstream for a couple hours.
We arrive to Tin Hut at 5pm, and Amanda & Ruben arrive an hour later. John (Aussie) is already at the hut, so we have 5 people – perfect! We all talk and make jokes for 2 hours, and have dinner at 7pm. Some of the others stay awake and chat, I’m in bed at 9:15pm.
Day 95: Thursday February 7th, 23.4mi/37.6km
Tin Hut (2501.6/930m) to Pakituhi Hut (2539.2/1333m)
I woke up at 6:45am, and I slept sooo good! What a nice, quiet hut.
I leave at 7:30, right after Amanda & Ruben, and Achille is a few minutes behind me.
I pass them on the climb, and we all gather at Martha Saddle.
We take some photos for the 2500km marker, have some snacks, and then depart at 9:30am.
I stay with the group for 30 minutes, then I have fun charging down the hill. There’s a cool rock arrangment next to the trail!
I stop at Top Timaru Hut for an early lunch at 11:30am, and leave by noon. I pass the three of them having lunch at a trail junction 20 minutes later. The rest of the afternoon is on a sidle-trail along (and in) the Timaru River.
At least there is interesting scenery to distract me. Like tightly switchbacked trails. And waterfalls!
After 3.5 hours of that annoying slanty trail, I climb steeply 2km to Stody Hut. I take a 10 minute break, then continue up the more gradual climb.
I see John (Aussie) again, amazing timing! I get to Breast Hill at 6:30pm, which has spectacular views of Lake Hawea.
I run down to Pakituhi Hut, passing some friendly sheep along the way.
I arrive at 7:15pm, and the hut is very full with 13 people, and three of us end up sleeping on the floor.
Day 96: Friday February 8th, 22.5mi/36.2km
Pakituhi Hut (2539.2/1333m) to Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park (2575.4/291m)
I woke up from the floor of the hut at 6:30am, after I hear a couple of other hikers getting up. John, Andrew, and I pack up (we slept on the floor) and I get walking at 7:15am.
It’s a punishing descent of 900m over 4km down to the road, but the views are amazing!
It’s a nice morning walk along lake Hawea, and I stop for 2nd breakfast at 9:30am. I buy a breakfast pie and milkshake, and get a free soda pop! (someone paid for a soda for the next 4 TA hikers!). After 45 minutes, I resume hiking, and it’s hot now. The walk along the Hawea River is beautiful, and I’m able to space out and relax. I also get to witness people trying to surf the standing wave in the river.
I get to a small town and order a $9 fish & chips special, with a beer.
It’s so hot outside. The final walk along the Clutha River feels long, it’s hot, and there is alot of biker traffic.
Along the way, I get to see a wedding, and meet a guy who hiked the PCT over 3 years. The rest of the walk along Wanaka Lake is nice, and I arrive at the Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park at 5pm. As I’m making my dinner in the kitchen, I see some familiar faces. Sarah and Mike are friends from Boston, who are on their honeymoon visiting NZ! What a coincidence we would be at the same holiday park on the same day!
I finish my dinner, and the three of us get ice cream and walk around downtown Wanaka. I eventually get to bed at 11pm.