Today was the first day of our South Island journey! It ended up as 34km in just on 8 hours, although we had to do another 1.8km off trail to get back to the hotel. The GPS data for the day is here:
We had booked a shuttle for 0630 to take us to Bluff, so we were up around 0530 (or 0230 in my case!) for tea and brekkie. B hadn't been to Bluff before so was watching with interest where we would be walking back! The driver dropped us off at Stirling Point in wind and light rain and we got underway about 0710 on the Foveaux Walkway. This is 7. 3km around the west side of Bluff hill, to rejoin SH1 at the north end of Bluff township (Ocean Beach).
The first 3.5km was in nice gravel track - we then had another 3.5 km which was mostly on private farmland where there was no specific trail. It was interesting walking with Foveaux Strait off to our left - however the dominant feature of the walk was the gale force westerly winds, which included driving rain!! Lookout Point was very windy and heading down from the high point of the farm track section was also a bit difficult to manage in the gale!
From Ocean Beach we had 16km walking alongside SH1. This was not particularly pleasant, especially since for the first half of it the rain was still coming down (actually it was coming almost horizontally)! We had three people stop on the other side of the road and ask us if we wanted a lift - we even had one car heading south stop and ask us if we were alright!! We said that apart from being somewhat crazy we were fine! There were lots of cars and large trucks on the highway - the truckies generally tried to give us room where they could but we got battered by the slipstream of many as they passed a couple of metres away! The wind was relentless, even when the rain finally stopped, and being flat and featureless there was not really many places to stop. We stopped briefly at a rest area around 0930 and then around 1200 found a little shed alongside the road where we could get out of the wind for a 30 minute lunch break.
Eventually we got off SH1 onto the Estuary Walkway which took us the final 10km to the Tweed St bridge. By this stage the wind was averaging 61kph (according to Metservice) so you can imagine some of the gusts were difficult to walk into, as it was mostly on our front quarter! The walkway itself was a well formed gravel track but very exposed with virtually no shelter anywhere. It made walking somewhat challenging and it certainly made my legs somewhat sore! In the last couple of kms I tweaked my left knee - feeling a bit similar to the problem with my right knee when we started a year ago. I'm hoping that it will be OK by tomorrow morning!
At the end we had a 20 minute walk to get back to the hotel and after a nice soak in a hot shower, we shouted ourselves to some lovely Thai for dinner!
Belinda and Anthony (aka Tony) Hadfield made a decision, in their late 50's, to do something a "bit different" and walk New Zealand's 3000km Te Araroa Trail over summer 2015/16 - although updates will now tell you that this plan will take longer now!!. As the old saying goes - "don't leave home 'til you've seen the country"!!