Day 97: Saturday February 9th, 0mi/0km
Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park (2575.4/291m)
I sleep in, knowing it’s a zero day. I emerge from my tent at 8:30am, and do some planning in the kitchen. I renew my campsite at the Holiday Park, which has a beautiful spot by the lake.
I walk into town to get information from the DOC iSite for a side-trip to the Cascade Saddle Track and Routeburn Track.
Achille is in town, and he messages me, and I meet him downtown and we go grocery shopping. Then we have lunch at Waterbar – pizza and beer for only $15! Amanda & Ruben show up, and we all have lunch. Achille leaves to hike another 15km to a holiday park. After lunch, Amanda & I see the movie “Free Solo” while Ruben visits with some friends.
We go shopping after the movie (I buy a new merino shirt!), and then walk back to the Holiday Park and make dinner. I stay up late and have a 2nd shower, and finally get to bed at 11pm.
Day 98: Sunday February 10th, 18.5mi/29.7km
Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park (2575.4/291m) to Highland Creek Hut (2605.1/848m)
Amanda, Ruben, and I pack up and hike out from the holiday park at 7:30am. Soon after, we get to the lake and get a photo of the famous “lonely tree”.
Then we continue our 3 hour walk along the lake on an easy path.
We have a nice break in the shade by a toilet and have salty snacks, and then continue onward. After another hour, we stop for lunch along the side of the trail, in the shade of some pine trees.
We talk to a Northbound hiker, and the Michigan girls pass us again – leapfrog! After lunch, the trail starts to climb, and I lose my group. Then, my stomach starts to hurt, alot. I’m occasionally distracted by strange sights in the forest.
I undo my hipbelt and hike uphill slowly, at least the scenery is nice.
I make it to Fern Bern hut at 3pm and take off my pack, which feels really good.
After 20 minutes, my group arrives and we all continue on. I lose them again on an uphill, and finish the climb up to Jack Hall’s Saddle (el. 1275m).
I run the downhill for fun, and I pass Zaneta (Czech girl) along the way.
I get to the hut at 5pm, and after awhile we have 12 SOBO hikers, and 1 NOBO…big crowd!
After dinner, I enjoy the sunset from the front porch.
I return inside the hut, where there is much socializing, and I go to bed at 10pm.
Day 99: Monday February 11th, 19.1mi/30.7km
Highland Creek Hut (2605.1/848m) to Campsite 1.5km before Arrowtown (2635.8/602m)
I’m awake at 6:30am, and everyone else is packing up too. I chat a bit, then head out right after the Austrian couple, and the same time as Zaneta, Amanda, and Ruben.
The trail is annoying today – it drops steeply down to a creek, then UP to a ridge, then down 500m to a creek, then up another ridge, and finally down to Roses Hut.
Someone tried to adapt the Appalacian Trail logo for the Te Araroa trail!
I see a helicopter nearby, and run down the hill to talk to them, but they fly off a few minutes before I arrive.
I get to Roses Hut at 10:30am to have 2nd breakfast, and read the fun Hut logbook.
After waiting 20 minutes, no one else has arrived, so I leave and climb up the next saddle – it’s kinda easy by comparison!
On the other side of the saddle, I meet a DOC crew doing trail maintenance, and we chat for 10 minutes. (The river option down below looks better and less brushy!) I get to an old mining town, Macetown, at 2pm and receive trail magic!
Fruit, pie, bread, and salad – wow! They were a very nice group, out for a walk and picnic lunch.
Eventually I pull myself away from Macetown, and hike up and over Big Hill Saddle. I’m nearing civilization, so I’m careful not to hike too far, and setup camp 1.5km before town. It’s only 5:30pm, so I have plenty of time for reading and relaxing before an early bedtime at 9pm.
Day 100: Tuesday February 12th, 18.8mi/30.2km
Campsite 1.5km before Arrowtown (2635.8/602m) to Queenstown Black Sheep Hostel (2666.0/321m)
I get up at 7am, and leisurely get going at 7:30am. It stopped raining a couple hours ago, but everything is still wet. I’m glad I’m that I’m only 1.5km out from town, and on a wide non-brushy trail. Within 20 minutes I arrive to a road, walking thru Arrowtown, and then a nice golf course.
After the golf course, the trail follows along a lakeshore. It’s getting hot and sunny.
I walk along a highway for 2km, skipping a longer river detour. I cross the Shotover River on a historic bridge, and 20 minutes later I see a McDonalds…milkshakes!! I take an hour to eat and plan stuff, and leave the restaurant at 1:30pm. I walk the final 6km to Queenstown and catch up to Achille, who is drying his tent. We walk in together, arriving to town at 3pm.
I check into the Black Sheep Hostel, shower, nap, and then meet Achille for dinner at the famous FergBurger.
After dinner we watch the street performers….
…and the sunset.
We grab some beers and fresh crepes from nearby food cart, and enjoy the walk thru town.
A pretty solid day! I walk back to the hostel and go to bed at 10pm, suddenly not feeling well.
Day 101: Wednesday February 13th, 0mi/0km
Queenstown Black Sheep Hostel (2666.0/321m) to Queenstown Base Hostel (2666.0/321m)
I woke up feeling like crap, and laid in bed until 9am. I packed up and checked out at 10am, and wandered to downtown. I sat on nice bench by a church for almost 2 hours, distracting myself on my phone. I walk over to Base Hostel at noon, and they allow me to store my packpack in a locker, and sit in the TV lounge for a couple of hours. At 2pm I could officially check-in, so I did, and laid in bed for 3 hours – bleh. At 5pm I get a message from Achille, so I meet the three of them for dinner, even though I don’t feel like eating anything.
I order a ginger ale at the bar, then we go out for ice cream afterwards and I get a sorbet. It’s our (probably) last night together as a group, since we all have slightly different schedules for the last 2 weeks of this trail. Amanda and Ruben plan to finish on February 27th, Achille on the 28th (to meet his dad!), and I’m taking a two day side-trip over Cascade saddle, so I may not catch them at all!
We get a nice group photo and hang out by the waterfront for awhile. We finally part ways, and I’m in bed at 10pm.
Day 102: Thursday February 14th, 0mi/0km
Queenstown Base Hostel (2666.0/321m) to Wanaka Base Hostel (2666/289m)
I get up at 7am, to catch the 8am bus to Wanaka. It’s a 5 block walk to the bus stop, and I somehow get lost…I guess I’m still not feeling well. It’s a nice bus and a relaxing 2 hour ride, and I get to Wanaka at 10am. I go straight to the Base Hostel and store my backpack, and sit in the lounge for 2 hours on my phone planning my last two weeks in NZ. At noon, I get up and walk to Domino’s, and get cheesy bread, soda pop and pizza. I finish my meal as I’m in queue to check-in to the hostel. I get situated in my room, and lay in bed for awhile. I walk down the hall to the bathroom and take a long shower. I wander back to my spacious room – there are only 3 people in an 8-person room! I settle into bed very early, but stay awake on my phone until 11pm. It’s very loud outside.