Day 145. 15 Mar. The last night in my tent.

As I went to bed last night I met three older than me men and got chatting, as I do. They were very impressed with my walk. One was a scientist, a Microbiologists and something else. They were on a speaking tour of N.Z. giving a different view to the usual about climate change. I didn’t ask too many questions but gathered that all was going to be okay in the world, in his learned opinion. We had a good few laughs and I enjoyed the company of people nearer my age for a change.

In the morning I decided to try and get a lift back to the trail head with them. They were heading to Gore the same direction as me and were planning morning coffee in Colac Bay. It would take me 2 longs days to walk to Colac Bay. I tried to get one of them to come along and carry my pack but no good.

One of the men had the farm beside the one that Frances, who started the walk with me had grown up on. It is a small world here in New Zealand.

They gave me compliments on my nice looking legs which I haven’t had before in my life. I must be looking as good as I feel.

At trail head at 9.30 am up forestry road into very muddy bush track, then out on to open tops , very marshy. A wee bit of sun peeked through occasionally which cheered me up. Then overcast again.

It is “The Roar” which is when the Male deer roar out trying to find a female to mate. This means the hunters are out and I saw 4 vehicles along the track. Consequently I need to be visible so as not to get mixed up with a horny stag and get shot. Unfortunately this happens regularly in NZ so I had my white hat on and my bright orange puffer jacket hung over my pack. I had left my Hi Viz vest and big orange poncho behind at Christmas time as there is very little road walking in South Island.

I don’t look like a deer do I?

The mud was smelly but there was not too much surface water most of the time because no really recent rain. Similar day to a few days ago but not raining so nowhere near as bad. But at times quite deep .

I managed quite well to keep myself clean except for shoes and socks until about 5.30, when I went in up to my knees and fell on my bum in the wet slushy, smelly mud. There was no one to pull me out so I took quite a while to get upright again.

Only one more day of mud then beach then mostly road walking to Bluff. Yeah. This day of mud made me decide that I won’t go to Stewart Island as it is well known for its mud. I am over mud. No more mud for me!

Time-wise I was doing well by the time I stopped for lunch. I sat behind a big rock out of the wind beside a number of big cellphone towers on Baldy Hill. This is aptly named as there was not much growing up here in the wind.

In the distance I could see the coast and bays ahead of me. I was so close now and absolutely wanted to finish this damn long walk.

Bluff in sight. The end is near.

Thereafter I was on a mission to get to Martin’s Hut and find camp spot before dark. I was not planning on sleeping in Martin’s Hut as renown for its very bold rat population. I moved quickly down 4WD track then it is back into the bush, mud, roots, moss, with a steep ascent and descent of Little Baldy. I only keep going because I know that I am nearing the end of the mud, I can nearly smell the sea.

I arrived at the hut at 5.30 pm and one look at the outside confirmed my decision to camp somewhere down the track. It was beginning to rain lightly so I needed to get a move on. I left note on a scrap of paper in the hut giving my intentions as could not find book. I was aware that I was taking an alternative route the next day so wanted to make sure I did all the right things in case I ended up lost. My family need to know my last whereabouts

Martins Hut built in 1905 and home to a very bold family of rats
Note the holes in the wall behind the fireplace.

Even so finding a flat spot was hard as I was on a very wet and muddy and steep downhill track. Eventually about half a km away I found a spot on soft moss and decided it would have to do.

I put up tent, set up gas bottle with pot of water for my dinner. Pot tipped, wet cooker, then I blew it dry but then the gas bottle was leaking at the attachment. Flames coming out everywhere. It was buggered. So muesli and beef jerky for dinner.

I took this as another indication that I should definitely not go on to Stewart Island . This is to be the last night in my tent and cooked dies. I hang up my food on a tree and make sure I leave no food in my pack or tent so hopefully I will be left alone tonight. I do not want to meet the local rats!

Try and get that you damn rats.

I just had enough time to get all set up before it got dark and it really was dark. No need for a mask tonight. It is raining very lightly but just drops on my tent from the trees above me. No wind and I ask Garry to stop the rain by the morning. Rain was not forecasted nor requested. He is slacking.

I have cellphone coverage so don’t feel so alone. I make a few posts and watch an episode of Coronation Street to put me to sleep.

Goodnight little tent. This will probably be our last night together in the Te Araroa. Only 100km left to go.

Last night in my tent.

Below is a video one of the other hikers posted of his night in this area the night after mine.

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