I finished work on 28 February at noon then caught bus to Queenstown. The buses are only runing a couple of times a week instead of daily because of a lack of tourists. So, sadly, there are probably some unemployed bus drivers out there. There was only 4 of us on the bus so I lay down along the back seat and had a snooze for a bit before reaching Queenstown. The countryside changed from dairy farms to vineyards.
I stayed in a Juicy Snooze backpackers in one of their pods whuch are space age capsules to sleep in with recharging ports, blinds and shelves for all your bits and pieces. I booked one in an 8 pod room and had it to myself ( Much cheaper than booking a single room so I took the gamble that it would not be full). I was told they were closing at the end of March.
I went out for a beer before my dinner and got chatting to a lovely young couple from Mmy hometown of Palmerston North. They were out for dinner with their 13 month old son who was enjoying spreading his dinner all over himself and the highchair. They seemed a bit worried about this but relaxed when I reminded them that everyone in the restaurant was a baby at one time! I saw them later and they thanked me for my comment saying that it was just what they needed to hear at that moment.
Next day I got a bus out to the edge of town and picked up a hitch all the way to Te Anau, within a few minutes. The man had just dropped his wife sat the airport as she was off to see the grandchildren in Australia. The borders had just opened with no quarantine required I think the planes will be full of grandparents. My turn soon. Kay was meeting me that evening at the backpackers.
I had walked the 4 day 60km, Kepler Track in Fiordland, a few years ago but was keen to do it again with Kay. Being a Great Walk the Track is we maintained and the gradients good with little chance of falling off anything, getting lost or injured. Maybe I am getting soft in my old.
The first day to Luxmore Hut began with a walk around )Lake te Anau then up to about 1000m through fern filled bush. The track weaved its way up a reasonably gentle I climb for about 6km until we were above the bushline. The hut is huge and has many Keas to entertain us. They are cheeky birds who can rip anything you pieces with their very sharp beaks so nothing can be kept outside for even a couple of minutes. The huts are specially made to withstand attack. We spent the evening watching them.
The next day was a walk up higher along a number of ridges that were quite safe but not good for people with a fear of heights. The weather was splendid the views clear in all directions. Thanks Garry.
The last part of the day was a 2 hour walk with a descent of about 1000 metres on a zig zag track. It was a steep track that went back and forth and on and on forever. There was some very sore knees coming in after us that day.
We enjoyed really enjoyed the last day walking back o Te Anau chatting with the other trampers as we passed them throughput the day. We had a fun evening it one lot laughing over a couple beers.
Next morning we were out early as it was raining nd we needed a hitch to Invercargill about 200km away. There was a man loading his car boot in the hostel carpark so we ambushed him into giving a couple of gorgeous old ladies a ride. He didn’t look to eager but soon became comfortable with our company. He was a Chaplin at a big hospital who had been having some time out in the bush. He was interested in how Te Araroa affected our mental well being. I said we had to be mad to want to walk for 3,000km so any well being gained from it had to be good.
Ge dropped us at Lumsden where he turned off so we popped into a Cafe for a coffee and the local delicacy, a cheese roll.
Next ride was from a woman who owned a guiding company that was in recess because of covid. She gave us some good tips for our Stewart Island trip. Final ride was from an Indian engineer who was milking cows because he hadn’t been able to get a job in hus field. I do feel sorry for these immigrants.
Three hours after we kept were were in Invercargill and heading to the Southern Comfort backpackers which I rate as the best I have stayed in. I keep going back there.