“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow.” -Hal Elrod
I kept a journal every day and shared it as blog posts. I decided to include them here for people that were not subscribed or are big readers and want to go through it once more. They are divided into two weeks segments. Enjoy!
Day 0 ~ Distance: 0km, Climb: 0m, Cumulative: 0km Final prepping day, after checking in* we reviewed all our gear and got some food from Invercargill. I couldn’t sleep very well, it wasn’t doubt or fear that kept me awake but excitement! The wind howled all night.
*Special thanks to Brandon (who gave us a ride to our room) and to a lovely couple from the North Island (who let us used their phone for a call).
Day 1 ~ Distance: 37km, Climb: 300m, Cumulative: 37km New Zealand welcomes us with some rain and 60km/h wind. Took a bus to Bluff the starting point, which is one of the southern points of NZ. For most of us south means warm, but don’t be fooled it is one of the closest points to the Antarctic, which means all the bad weather from the South Pole hits here first. That’s why NZ is known for its harsh weather. Here we go, the journey begins... 4km into the trail we had to figure out a detour since a section of the trail was closed. Most of the day was on a busy road with strong wind gusts, already 4 blisters between us two.
Day 2 ~ Distance: 30km, Climb: 20m, Cumulative: 67km Still very windy with a few passing showers. Followed a road in the morning that got quieter the further we went. The road ended on a beach. We walked on the beach for the rest of the day. Crossed a knee-deep river. The wind was blowing strong all day! Camped 4km outside of Riverton.
Day 3 ~ Distance: 26km, Climb: 350m, Cumulative: 93km Walked 4km into Riverton, resupplied on water* and food. Push on over a hill and down to the coast. I thought the last 2 days were windy, the coast was even worst! I was literally thrown off balance from the wind gust (easily above 85km/h). We made it into Colac Bay and pushed a little further where we found a nice forest to camp in (and to finally have a break from the wind).
*Special thanks to the workers\owners of The Postmaster Bakery for letting us used their filtered water tap to refill our water bottles.
Day 4 ~ Distance: 21km, Climb: 400m, Cumulative: 114km We hiked all day in a beautiful rainforest. It got quite muddy, in some places my hiking poles sink in more than 2 ft deep. We had on and off rain all day even 3 times hail, yep it was hailing (or should I say, “hell-ing”). Overall our gear kept us warm and relatively dry. The wind was still as strong making the trees around us creaking and cracking as if they were talking and encouraging us. We set up the tent in the rain
Day 5~ Distance: 25km, Climb: 550m, Cumulative: 139km It was pouring rain all night, we broke camp in the rain. The trail got muddier as we were making our way up and along a ridge. I got in the mud all the way to my knees a few times. The trail was more like a creek since lots of water was draining through it. I realize how cold it was when my gloves started to frost. We did not sit down or rest for the first 4-5h. We had to keep moving to stay warm, especially on the exposed ridge. It was hard to respect my partner’s speed since our pace was slower than the one I need to stay warm. But we pulled through, as soon as we were down from the mountain. The sun showed up* very shortly, but it was enough to break a smile on both our faces. We had on and off rain for the rest of the day on a forestry road. We were lucky enough to have another quick peek from the sun when we were setting camp so we're able to dry a few things.
*Special thanks to the sun to have shown up a bit, we were starting to doubt if it existed in that corner of the world.
Day 6~ Distance: 5km, Climb: 10m, Cumulative: 144km We walked 5km into Otautau, the scenery was very nice. Otautau is a one street sort of village. Many businesses have a sign asking you to remove your dirty boots before coming in. I saw a man removing his boots (leaving them on the boardwalk) to go to the grocery store in socks. Kinda funny, I guess it shows how muddy and rainy it gets here. We decided to spend a night here to fully dry our gear and resupply on food.
Day 7 ~ Distance: 33km, Climb: 550m, Cumulative: 177km We learned about 3 guys that started the trail and gave up because of the nasty weather. It’s a little ironic because we had today our best day until now. The weather was just right, not too hot, not too cold. We made it out of Otautau on a road for 15km then climbed up a little mountain and had a beautiful view on the other side for the rest of the day. We could see some far-away snow peaks toward where we are heading. Found a nice campsite not too far from a pond.
Day 8 ~ Distance: 31km, Climb: 1450m, Cumulative: 198km A part of the morning, we crossed many fields packed with sheep and cows. The rest of the day we went up and down a decent amount 3 times. The last one close to Telford campground was the biggest and the most gorgeous, we followed a ridge and went down into the other valley where we camped.
Day 9 ~ Distance: 20km, Climb: 500m, Cumulative: 218km Another nice day, most of the day was hiking in a beautiful forest. In the afternoon we got more into grassland and it got windier and wetter. The moral of my hiking partner was a little low today. We have learned as well about another hiker that got really sick because he didn’t treat or filter his water. Late afternoon rain was on its way. We found a nice spot in the forest to camp. We will be falling asleep hearing the rain falling down with the leaves dancing in the wind.
Day 10 ~ Distance: 17km, Climb: 500m, Cumulative: 235km We hiked in wet grassland for most of the morning. Then got in the wood for about 5km the time to climb up and crossing over into the other valley. By 1pm we made it to a road where we hitchhiked toward the next town for resupplying. We got very lucky, just as we started putting our thumbs up a car stopped to give us a ride*. Once in Te Anau, we charged our stuff, resupplied, showered, washed some clothes, and ate lots of fresh food. We are spending a night here.
*Big thanks to Ryan and Taylor from the USA for picking us up and bringing us to Te Anau.
Day 11 ~ Distance: 31km, Climb: 220m, Cumulative: 266km After some nice fresh food for breakfast, we walked outside of town for hitchhiking. Someone was already there. Luckily he got a ride within 5min. For us, it took about 1h to get a ride*. We were dropped exactly where we left off the day before. From there it was 3km on a very busy road, then we turned on a much quieter gravel road. We witnessed the scenery changing slowly around us while we walk 28km following the Mararoa River.
*Big thanks to Claire and Paul from Melbourne for stopping and picking us up.
Day 12 ~ Distance: 33km, Climb: 180m, Cumulative: 299km We had our hottest day so far! We kept making our way upstream the Mararoa River. The river gave way to Mavora Lakes. After the lakes, we followed another beautiful valley. There were no trees in this valley, only bushes. It wasn’t easy to find a nice sheltered spot from the wind to camp, but we managed to find some sort of trench. Let’s just hopes the wind gust doesn’t get too crazy tonight.
Day 13 ~ Distance: 31km, Climb: 220m, Cumulative: 330km We got spared from the wind overnight. Another day close to 30 degrees with beautiful scenery. Halfway we left the actual trail for a detour I created. I picked this detour because it seemed cool on a map (what I didn’t know is that we were in for a real treat since in 2005 National Geographic Magazine named it one of the top eleven trails in the world!).
Day 14 ~ Distance: 33km, Climb: 950m, Cumulative: 363km For me, today was one of the best days so far. The scenery was simply gorgeous. We hiked beside 3 lakes, saw a 174m high waterfall (and so many smaller ones). Once we made it to the saddle (1277m). I went for a small peak close by (Conical Hill, 1515m). Then we proceeded to the next valley. My detour was definitely worth it! We saw a few Keas (world’s only alpine parrot). It was a long day of about 14h.