I think we had a rat free night as our packs and sleeping bags had not been invaded. I was a “hear no evil, see no evil” person wrapped up tightly in my sleeping sheet with mask and earplugs in situ so wouldn’t have noticed anyway.
I was first away in the morning through dense, mossy bush in a slight drizzle that lasted until lunchtime. The notes said a 10 hour day but I planned on 11 so as not to push my body too hard.
There was a lot of muddy sections; some that had me nearly knee deep and wondering if I would get out without a tow. It was hard going and I was doubting my sanity at doing this again.
No photos for this day as my phone was dying..nearly at the hospice stage. Using it for Navigation was more important. I knew it had issues before I left home but noe it was getting pretty drastic so I hatched a plan to hitch back to Invercargill to get a new one. Funny what has taken me 5 days to walk takes 35 minutes in a car in a raod rather than a muddy bushy track .
Out of the bush and up into the clouds I went, barely making out marker poles in the distance. At one stage I realized I was off track and turned back to the last pole and thankfully came across Okan. We stuck together on and off so I used his young eyes and followed his bright blue pack cover for most of the day through dense bush then a forestry track followed by 7km gravel country road. About 28km all up. The sun came out and warmed my body and spirit after a lunch break in an old limestone quarry.
There is a hut at the end of this section that was built for us by a local farmer. They probably got sick of Te Araroa walkers camping on their property and pooping behind their bushes. This is where I found Okan and Jimmy and Isaac 11 hours after I started the day.
But I went out to the road and hitched a ride with a hunter into Otautau where I stayed for the night at the hotel. I washed my mud caked shoes, socks and legs before entering as the sign dictated. I needed to do quite lot of scrubbing to cleanse myself in the shower and was pleased to see my blisters had all healed. White towels are not a good idea for Te Araroa walkers!!
So Thursday I hitched a ride into Invercargill with a man and his 4 kids under 5 on the way to daycare. One was not too happy about having a strange woman in his car.
The Dad was very adept at ignoring the kids’ efforts at reducing the boredom of the trip. His wife is a vet who works at the local freezing works from 5am to 2pm. So Dad has the 4 kids up at 6am and is out the driveway at 7.15am. A well oiled machine that I reckon is also a noisy one.
A small fortune and three hours with a very patient man in the Vodafone, and I had a new phone that did everything that my old one did but better.
I popped into an Opportunity Shop to buy a cup and scrounge a piece of cardboard to make a hitching sign. The old ducks were so impressed with my plans that they gave me both for free.
I had a ride quickly with a farming Mum of 5 kids. Gosh they breed well down here in Southland.