Woke up this morning to a leisurely breakfast in our unit - very nice to have toast and marmalade, and bacon & eggs to start the day!! After checking weather etc on the internet, we quickly decided that we would wait out the tail end of Cyclone Debbie here in Hanmer Springs rather than get back out on the trail early. Our plan soon settled on staying in Hanmer until Thursday, then getting a ride out to Boyle River Outdoor Education Centre to stay there Thursday night, before hitting the TA again first thing Friday morning. So we booked Mon/Tues/Wed night at the hostel and rang Boyle River OEC to confirm that we could stay there Thursday night - all good. It’s worth noting that the Kakapo Lodge was fantastic - the lovely family that run it were very friendly and welcoming, and the standard and cleanliness of the facilities was second to none. Great place to spend a few days holed up. We saw a little bit of Markus and Nana and Tawera and Rachel who had booked in here also.
Our days in Hanmer were quite relaxing - we had been here at least a couple of times before! There was a little bit of rain around but nothing too dramatic so we got out for a walk everyday. First thing we did was organise a two day ticket to the hot pools :-) This was a milestone event for me as it was the first time I had ever got a “senior” (over 60) discount!!! $12 in the piggy bank! So we had a soak in the pools for a couple of hours Monday and again for an hour or so on Tuesday afternoon - it was very nice I must say. Apart from that we did a restock of our food supplies and mooched around town. A couple of nights we went to Robbies (pub) for dinner - I couldn’t resist pork belly both nights! We also spent a bit of time on Wed in the library where I copied photos onto a usb stick and sent them home as a backup (free wifi in the library as well). Didn’t really take many photos in Hanmer as we were too busy relaxing.
Rang Belinda's sister, Julia, on Monday to get her to get some things together and courier down to us. The main issue was shoes - Belinda had started at Ship Cove with a new pair of Hokas but, as always, has worked them a bit harder than me!! Mine had already done 130km or so in Southland but were also pretty worn after 500km in total. The Richmond Ranges (and parts of the Waiau Pass route) with all its rocks was especially hard on the shoes - not only were the fabric sides blowing out, but some of the lugs on B's soles were coming off as well (I had done a temp repair on these in St Arnaud with Shoe Goo). Anyway, our spare shoes (Merrells in B's case) arrived fine the next day. B's are still wearable so she will take both pairs and swap depending on terrain.
Monday we popped into the i-Site to get new DoC annual hut passes as ours expire on 4th April!! I would love to know how the pass numbering system works - a year ago in Hamilton we got WAI964 & 965 and now we have WAI602 & 603 (we had always assumed WAI was Waikato)!! Also saw Judy and Peter there for a chat - as noted earlier, they had crossed the Waiau onto the St James cycleway and walked directly into Hanmer rather than going to Boyle. Very nice to catch up :-)
Tuesday we called Andrew from St James Journeys to see if he would take us out to Boyle on Thurs - as we couldn’t be bothered with the potentially time-consuming uncertainty of hitching in this case. $100 for an almost 2 hour, 100km+ round trip, with just us, was pretty good value in our opinion. Andrew picked us up around 1430 Thursday and we had a great chat on the way out. He is an ex-farmer from the inland Kaikoura road who has been operating the business from Hanmer for about 7 years. We would thoroughly recommend his services to anyone who wants some adventure and/or tours of the area, including pick-ups and drop-offs to/from any part of the trail nearby.
Nick at Boyle River OEC was also very welcoming and helpful. He let us know that Tawera and Rachel had finally got their food parcel (long story!) from the OEC, but had decided to hitch around the next section to Arthurs Pass - not sure why - so we will not be crossing paths again. We had a little cottage, that can sleep around 8, all to ourselves - although there was a group of schoolkids in other accommodation at the Centre. Our last weather forecast was from Hanmer at lunchtime - on the basis of that, we were looking like having at least 4 days of clear weather - so B’s plan was to get away in the morning (Friday) and try and push reasonably hard (for us) to see if we could make Goat Pass Hut by Monday night, in case the next weather front arrived early. We had brought a wet dinner with us for tonight so, having demolished that, it was into our cosy warm sleeping bags for the night :-)
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"!!