Day 95 (Mon 22 Feb): Greenstone hut to Queenstown
Started 6.50am, finished 9.55am, 12k.
Pain in the head status: No pain but tired; didn’t sleep well for no identifiable reason. Everything feels harder when you haven’t slept so well.
Word of the day: Elysian, of or like paradise.
We were up early, eating breakfast and packing in the dark, as we had a 10.15am pick-up from the Greenstone car park, and the estimated time to walk out was 3-5 hours. It was only just light enough to walk without a torch through the beech forest, but the track was wide and clear, not like the other forest tracks so far. Whoever made this track had obviously heard about track grading and even made use of switchbacks. Such novelty.
It was a pleasant walk, almost over too quickly, and it certainly didn’t feel like a full day’s work. We got dumped at Glenorchy for over three hours, waiting for a connecting shuttle to Queenstown, something we weren’t told when we made the booking, otherwise we might have taken the afternoon ride and saved ourselves the pre-dawn wake-up. We did at least have a large leisurely lunch and a wander around Glenorchy, which could be described as elysian, being only 13k from Paradise, encircled by majestic mountains and neighbour to some spectacular Lord of the Rings film locations.
The drive to Queenstown along the shores of Lake Wakatipu was also beautiful, almost making me wish there was a track we could walk here to take in the scenery. I checked out the road – virtually no verge and winding in places – not good for walkers (although we saw one brave or foolhardy soul trudging along some miles from town). This section to Queenstown is not deemed to be part of Te Araroa – you are supposed to find some alternative, possibly magic, way to hop from the end of the Greenstone into Queenstown, which is east of the Greenstone at sort-of the same latitude.
I just had enough energy to walk to the supermarket to buy breakfast supplements for tomorrow (fruit and yoghurt to make our porridge ultra delicious), then duck into town for some naan bread and samosas to supplement our dinner (we had extra dehy meals to use up), then it was time to crash. Ah, pillows.
Day 96 (Tues 23 Feb): Queenstown
These days off are supposed to be rest days but we still managed to walk 12,000 steps, according to my phone’s tracker. A better description might be planning, maintenance and food-seeking day.
Today’s food seeking included Ferg’s Gelateria and Patagonia Ice Creamery. Enough said.
TA update: Last TA season there were around 1,200 registered through walkers (unknown number unregistered) with 80% of them international visitors. This season, through walkers are mostly Kiwis – reportedly more than three times as many Kiwis as the previous year. By my calculations, this amounts to over 750 Kiwi through walkers (plus some more international walkers). I thought this was a surprisingly large number for such a trip in such times. No wonder we are meeting so many TA walkers along the way.
Funny story of the day, from the Radiolab podcast: The Swedish military spent over a decade during the Cold War convinced that Russian submarines were invading their waters. They monitored the coast around Sweden and whenever their radar picked up the ‘typical sound’ of a Russian sub, they would dash out with helicopters and drop bombs on the site, hoping that bits of broken sub would bob up to the surface. But that never happened. After years of this, the military finally allowed some civilian scientists to investigate the submarine ‘typical sound’ – and discovered it was nothing to do with nautical trespassing. The noise came from the collective farts of huge schools of herring fish. Fish farts fooled the armed forces. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.rbth.com/science-and-tech/326583-stinky-mystery-russia-sweden/amp