Day 80 (Monday 1 Feb): Wellington (home) to Island Bay
Word of the day: Epicurean, devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, especially good food and luxury.
We reached home on Wed 27 Feb and immediately launched into planning and preparation for the South Island, which was the opposite of restful, but to compensate, we simultaneously indulged in epicurean feasting and even managed a few sleep-ins (getting up at 8am instead of 6am). I was surprised to find I was itching to cook, and made a vegetarian pie as soon as I got home. Then rhubarb and apple crumble using rhubarb from the garden. But all consuming was the food planning for the next few months – where to send food parcels, how to estimate when we might arrive, what to put in the food parcels, how much dehydrating to do. The dehydrator has been running non-stop for days.
But on Monday 1 Feb, the sun was shining, the air was calm and we felt able to take a breather and officially ‘finish’ the North Island Te Araroa, by wandering down to the plaque at Shorland Park in Island Bay. We only live 4km away, and I’ve run down to Shorland Park too many times to count, but it felt like the right thing to do. We took pictures to confirm that yes, we had completed the North Island’s 1600k-or-so-depending-on-how-you-count-it-and-what-year-you-walked-the-trail-which-changes-so-often-that-probably-no-one-does-exactly-the-same-route.
We’ve booked to fly down to Invercargill on the 6th of February, and will start the walk from Bluff to Picton on the 7th. I’m a little nervous. The South Island will be so much harder than the North Island, with many mountains to climb, many rivers to cross, and many remote sections with days and days of wilderness – which is wonderful, but means no shops, no ice-creams, no sneaky snacks. I’m worried about being hungry, and about whether my migraines will flare up. They are so unpredictable and random. But I also know worrying could be a trigger for a migraine, so I have to stop. It’s hard to stop.
For the South Island, I’ve made a few changes to my packing. I’ve added in a long-sleeved merino top, mostly for sandfly protection, but also to have another layer when it’s cold, and a pair of leggings for the same reasons. I’ve bought a new pair of boots, with a wider fit, that should accommodate my expanding feet and might help my toes recover their sensation. I’ve replaced the cap I lost in the Tararuas, swapped my beanie for a thicker fleecey one, replaced a pair of undies that had got too big (or had my bottom got too small) and swapped my Tevas for a lighter pair. I also had to buy a new hiking T shirt as my previous one had worn through on the back, where the pack rubs against my bra. Maybe there is a need for more woman designers and testers of hiking clothes.
It would be so easy to stop here in Wellington in our comfortable wee house and keep enjoying seeing our friends and eating desserts, but we need to press on before the calluses soften on our feet and our waistlines expand beyond our pack hipbelts. I’m not counting our time in Wellington as part of the trail, as it is more trail prep than trail rest, so the next dispatch will be Day 81, from the bottom of the South Island. The next stage is about to begin.
Thanks to everyone who has supported us so far: Prime Pump (Tony’s employer) for their very generous suite of vouchers that have helped us resupply, replace gear and given us some free accommodation; my workmates (you’ve given me a new non-holey t-shirt); our patient parents who put us up/put up with us in Auckland, drove us from one end of Auckland to another and kept us washed and well fed; our other special trail angels who also provided food, transport and much needed laundry services; the Thompson-Morrell cabal who have sponsored our Kathmandu purchases (we cleaned out two stores of dehydrated rice) and are now sponsoring the South Island ice cream experiences; and everyone who is following along and reading this blog, which is an immense encouragement to keep going. Thank you all.