28km day. I needed a hitch out to the start of the Island Bush Track but this took me over half an hour. I usually don’t wait long for a ride as a grey haired old lady seems to make nice family people want to get me off the road.
Otautau is only a small town an mostly tradies vehicles and Fonterra milk tankes passed by me. Neither woukd be allowed to pick up hitchhikers. But eventually I was picked up by a man who was escaping Hamilton and Covid-19 lockdowns effects by doing a road trip around the South Island.
The track was a bit hard to find as it is just a wee sign marked with a small rock tarn in the side of the highway which would only really be seen by a walker. My driver was happy to go back and forth until I spotted it.
I was on track at by 9.30am. I remembered this track from my SOBO as a good day.
I walked across farmland, then cut into some nice native beech bush. The track was a bit hard to find at places but I plodded on getting scratched and bashed around a bit. But I remembered having a similar experience last time ao i wasn’t worried.
Soon I was out on a forestry tracks. As it was another hot day and I had 3.5 litres of water on board. That adds 3.5 kg to my pack that weghs about 9kg with food on board. Therefore it does feel heavy and that encourages me to drink.
I can get some speed up on these tracks which went through areas where the trees had been felled and ones where they were still majestically standing waiting for their final day.
Then I had a hot 5km road walk passing though nice farmland giving me sheep and steers to talk to. Did you know that young cows are called steers because they steer at you? They run up to the fence and just stand and steer as if they had never seen such a thing before.
The Woodlaw Track was next. Te Araroa is mainly made up of some existing tracks and others made especially for us. They are usually connected by road walks. We are very grateful to the farmers and forestry owners who have allowed us to enjoy their properties.
The last part of the day was through Birchwood Station, a huge sheep and beef farm. I remembered that there was a huge climb on my SOBO so was pleased to be going North this time. I did stuff up and take a wrong farm track that meant I ended up with a big hill covered with thistles to climb back up to find the correct downhill. However I was enjoying my day. My feet were good and I have had no legs muscle pain at all.
About 5km from the end young Cam came along behind me and we finished the day together. From England, he arrived a couple of weeks before Covid-19 hit. He enjoyed his lockdown at a backpackers hostel in Queenstown which is where he met his girlfriend.
I enjoyed having some company even if he did get the directions wrong to the hut were were to stay at.
We tried to shortcut our way back and ended up in a paddock with more steers steering at us and a very slimey creek that we didn’t want to rusk crossing.
We were happy and weary arriving about 5.30pm. Okan had had a rest day there and had already gone on the shuttle to the Takitumu Tavern. The sign said they only do one pick up an evening but I rang and convinced them to drive out the 13km to pick the 2 of us up. There were 2 SOBO woman there who were not keen on joining us. So we had quick, much needed showers and we were soon at the pub for pizza and a couple of beers with Cam and Okan.
Home and in bed by 9.30. Beds not good sore back and bad sleep.
The next day is across Mt Linton Station. One of the SOBOS had taken 9 and was not happy at all about the signage. I remembered feeling the same on my SOBO. It was one of the worst days on TA . So I went to sleep promising myself that I would start early and be very careful.