What a difference a day makes. Woke to gorgeous weather for our final day on the trail. Hitched back to Awarua and then onto the road for 13kms of tarseal walking. Spent the time with Rick going over our journey, day by day, from the Cape. Lunch once we left the road and joined the lovely coastal track taking us to the signpost at the end of Bluff. Dave, Charlie, Alba, Rick and I spent quite a while yahoo’ing and taking photos. Camino Te Araroa was finished but one surprise still awaited us as we celebrated later in the evening – the Invercargill City Councilor (Lloyd Esler) popped round to the restaurant and presented us with our TA plaques. Cool!
Not a lot of sleep at the Backpackers, too many Bogans driving up and down the main street outside. 2nd Breakie at the Café then off along the Estuary Walkway towards Bluff. A brief break and a stop for lunch took us to the main road where the weather deteriorated to rain and gale force winds. Carried on a few more kms then managed to hitch back to Invercargil. Not many kms today, savouring our last days on the trail.
Thanx Kirsten for the trail bling. …
Really dark threatening sky as we walked onto the beach to take advantage of the low tide. Warm with the wind at our backs and a firm but comfortable beach surface. 21kms along Oreti Beach with only occasional showers went really quickly so we decided to carry on to Invercargil. Got to the backpackers by 5pm. Saw our first road sign with Bluff on it. We’re getting nearer the end. Two short days to go.
Poured down during the night as forecast. Got up normal time and had 1st breakie with Rick in the camp kitchen. 2nd breakie at the Tavern with Dave, Alba, Charlie and Rick. Got going at 11am straight onto the beach. Nice sand to start with then the tide forced us onto the pebbles. Light rain but quite wetting as we walked around the cliff section. Up over the hill then down into Riverton. Only 13kms today and although wet a satisfying day on the trail. Backpackers turned out to be a bit run down but cosy enough.
50m from the hut is the DOC sign for the intersection to Turnbull Hut and Cascade Road. The trail went via Cascade Road. We mistakenly took the Turnbull Hut track, following a Tail Race we’d read about in the notes, but didn’t realise we were off-trail till I checked the GPS 1 1/2 hours later. Oops! Dave was with us, still pretty ill and lacking energy. Crew decided to carry on to Turnbull Hut and then bush bash all the way back to the trail near the car park at the road end. Rick navigated while I looked for the best way forward. 5hrs later we walked out onto the trail, exactly where we wanted to. Pretty rough going but a great way to finish our last forest section on the TA. Road walk to Colac Bay Tavern and Backpackers. Big day again!
Dropped of early at the trail head by Karl (the backpacker owner). 7kms of gravel road into the Longwood Forest. Dave joined us again on the trail but was pretty crook. A further 5kms to Bald Hill with a massive cell and radio tower on top. Got our first view of Bluff – not long now. Windy on top so the workmen let us use their Smoko room for 1st lunch. Another gravel road rook us down to the Quarry and onto a further forest track that took us back onto the open tops. Arrived at Martins Hut – our last – and met the slowest TA walkers on the trail (9 1/2 months so far). After 8:30pm, five lightweight TA walkers arrived, a couple in the dark.
Nice campsite! Cold morning. GPS trail differed from the orange marker trail. Eventually got onto the trail and climbed the hill to Twinlaw with the massive Cell Tower on it. Met Dave at the top and Alba returned the watch she had found on the track. Dave walked with us all day. Pine forest 4WD track led onto the Woodlaw Forest bush track and out to Scott’s Gap. Some more road walking and then into Island Bush – another Pine forest taking us to the Otautau Tuatapere Rd. Got a lift by the local Cop to the backpackers in Tuatapere to resupply and stay the night.