Day 79 - 81: Wanaka
I'm far ahead of my schedule. With only 10-15 hiking days (420km) and 1.5 months until my onward flight to the United States I decided to slow down and stop for a few days in Wanaka.
Wanaka is a lovely tourist town, with plenty of good eateries, a beautiful lake and a cinema. I spent most of these days just eating and relaxing and planning my upcoming adventure. On day 80 Zac caught up to me, Alex, Jake and Olivia seem to be far behind. I haven't seen them in days.
Day 82: Wanaka to 2618.7 (35km)
I left the Holiday Park where I had camped the last few days at 6:30am and had a last and lovely breakfast in town. Just before 8am i started walking around the lake towards Glendhu Bay.
It was getting really hot and the trail was only partially covered by small forest sections. Unfortunately my water filter and bottle fell out of my backpack, which I realized 1.5km further up the mountain. I than dropped my backpack and started looking for it, luckily I found the filter next to the trail some 20mins later. Overall not critical at all, as I still had water in my 2l bladder and filtering high up in the mountains isn't as important as in the lowlands with lots of stock and pasture.
On the way to Fern Burn Hut I watched a DoC Helicopter flying back and forth several times and later learned that it had just emptied the toilet at Fern Burn Hut. Quite expensive way to get rid of sh*t.
I stopped for lunch at the hut and briefly talked to the people who already decided to spent the night there. At 2:30pm I hiked on to Jack Hall Saddle and even though I had rested for several days, I got really exhausted. The heat made me drink much more than usual and the climb was rather steep on a slow going trail. My plan was to reach either Highland Creek or Roses Hut, just 5 respectively 14km further. At 5pm I arrived at Highland Creek Hut, gathered some information on an upcoming river route from two NoBo hikers and moved on.
I was already pretty knackered, but wanted to do at least one more 400m climb, to make the next day easier. That last climb of the day was much harder than expected, but rewarded me with some nice views. On the descent I found a very small campsite for my tent, just next to a pretty loud stream and decided to spent the night right there. I had climbed more than 1750m of elevation that day, not incl. the descents.
Day 83: 2618.7 - Arrowtown (27km)
For today another 1750m of ascent and 2550m of descent were planned to reach Arrowtown in the early afternoon. I left early, as the heat of the last day had made the climbs really intense. I therefore wanted to get the climbs done in the morning. Luckily the day started pretty cloudy and the first 400m ascent wasn't as bad as I had feared.
At 10:30am I had managed two of three climbs for the day and the weather cleared up. I hiked another 3km down from Rose's Saddle and than decided to take the "low water route" through the Arrow river.
The water was ice cold and really hurt in the beginning, but I got used to it quickly. For some 5km I followed the river, walking most of the time right through the river itself.
For lunch I stopped at Macetown, an old and abandoned gold mining town, walked another kilometre through the river and than started the final climb to Big Hill Saddle. The trail on this climb was poorly marked and maintained. It was mainly just trampled grass and I twisted my ankle several times as the ground beneath that grass wasn't visible and flat at all.
The trail got better once I made it to the top and the last 5-6km into Arrowtown were rather easy and partially very well maintained.
I got to the small town at about 4:30pm, pitched my tent and went to the local pub for a burger.
Day 84: Arrowtown to Queenstown (30km) Uneventful day, I left Arrowtown early as I wanted to complete those 25-30km to Queenstown rather early.
The hike was mainly road, or gravel roadwalk. Instead of following the red guthooks GPS line, I ended up following the "Queenstown Trail" markers, which also had some official TA markers.
Highlight of that hike was probably the Shotover Bridge just before Frankton, the Queenstown Airport and the hike around the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu into Queenstown.
It was nice and interesting to hike into town that way, as I crossed the Queenstown Gardens, where I had spent quite some time, 9.5 years ago.
Once in Queenstown I went straight to the local DoC office, to get the latest information on the trail closures south of Queenstown and the upcoming storm. Looks like I have to hitch to Mossburn to continue the trail at kilometre 2768.9 instead of 2677, but that will have to wait until cyclone "Uesi" has passed on monday. It's about time to finish this trail and get some new shoes. So far I've managed to only use 2 pairs of shoes, but the second pair is really falling apart now.
Kinda weird, hiking through fancy Queenstown with these run down shoes and a 3 months beard. ;-)