We were up early and packed up ready to go about 0620. Today ended up being over 37km in just over 9.5 hours of walking. It was a day of two sections: a very steep descent initially, followed by a long relatively flat run from Hawea to Wanaka. GPS data for the day is here.
It was a short climb up to rejoin the trail before starting a 950m descent over 4km down to Timaru River Road on the shore of lake Hawea (we had already dropped around 300m from Breast Hill to the hut last night)! I have to say I found this the most nerve-wracking section so far. With no head for heights, the steep rocky decent on a fairly sharp ridge (at times), with big drop-offs in places, did nothing for my head! Still - it's only mind over matter! I thought I was being very slow and cautious, with B keeping a respectful distance behind! Eventually, after about 650m of descent and 1h40, it switched to a zigzag track on a steep face which I found a relative doddle! Surprisingly we hit the road in a whisker over 2 hours, which is faster than DoC suggest!
Marie had left after us and not long before we hit the steep zigzag she caught up with us. Lucky she was behind us as B had stopped to rearrange her mesh pocket on the way down and my Icebreaker cap had fallen out! Marie had spotted it and kindly picked it up :-). We said goodbye to Marie at the road as she was heading down to the road to hitchhike straight to Chch for her flight out on Xmas day, rather than turn off onto the lakeside track that we would follow - it obviously went OK as we saw later on her Facebook page she made it back safely.
Pretty much the rest of the day was spent on various cycle/walking tracks so was pretty easy going after what we had done over the last few days! Every now and then it's nice to be on flat terrain :-). From the Gladstone Reserve we walked around the lake edge to the village - getting near to the control gates we took a small detour from the trail and found a cafe/store on Capell Ave near the intersection with Parry Cres (its worth the small deviation off trail for this!!). We decided to stop here for half and hour for a coffee and some hot food (pie in my case and vegetables stack for B) which was very much appreciated :-)
Then it was another 12km mostly following the Hawea River towards Albert Town. We stopped here under a tree in a campground for half an hour or so as the day was hot and the track fairly exposed. We had stopped a few times to wet our headgear to help with cooling. A quick diversion into Albert Town to try and find the “store” for a cold drink proved a dismal failure so it was back onto the river track (this time now following the mighty Clutha River) towards Wanaka.
Heading up the cycle trail alongside the Clutha, there were quite a few people on rafts and kayaks enjoying the trip down from the lake Wanaka outlet, which we arrived at after about 4km. These tracks are well used by locals and we passed numerous cyclists and walkers (it's all pretty easy going). From the outlet it was another 8km around the lake edge into Wanaka and to the YHA where we had a lovely ensuite room, arriving about 1800 from memory. On the way through town we couldn’t resist buying a bag of lovely fresh Central Otago cherries - a real treat!
Julia had sent us a parcel with another pair of shoes each, so we picked that up as well. Then it was into town to check if we could find some gel insoles for the shoes (B needed some new ones and I was having trouble with pressure points under the ball of my right foot for the first time ever!). We also sat down to a lovely meal at a local eatery and I enjoyed several beers as we had a bit of a wait for the food (that's my excuse anyway). Given the state of our bodies we decided another rest day would be helpful and luckily managed to extend our cabin at Glendhu Bay campground for another night, so we would spend Xmas day there as well. Might also minimise the effects of a couple of days of possible showers!
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"!!