Thursday, March 12th. Invercargill to Tuatepere. 94 km
Friday, March 13th. Tuatepere to Manapouri. 80 km
Two days with big mileage running from the rain with yet more beautiful scenery along the way.
Not much traffic and mostly fast roads with a couple of hills thrown in to keep us on our toes. We are racing to get to Te Anau by Saturday to meet our friend Rodney Ross. We are relieved we didn’t have to take a bus from Invercargil but exhausted at the end of each day from hauling 30 Kilos up the hills.
Met an eccentric woman managing the motor camp in Manapouri. She spoke with a distinct North American accent and to her side, in a cup on the counter, was a small Canadian flag. King asked if she was from Canada. She looked at him as if confused by the question and said no, American. When asked about the flag she looked at it in surprise and said some Canadian must have snuck it in when she wasn’t looking. Just then a very tall man came in, ducking so his head wouldn’t hit the doorframe. She looked up mid-sentence and loudly asked him “are you Dutch?”
Saturday, March 14th. Manapouri to Te Anau. 20 km
Road rage. Twice in one day. We had been warned about bad drivers, but until today everyone without exception has been safe, friendly, courteous and has given us a lot of space on the roads. This morning when we were stopped in the corner of the driveway of a deserted gas station a guy pulled in with his boat very fast aiming it so it would hit us and then screamed at us to get out of the fucking way followed by his enraged shouting that he hopes we get run over, get the fuck out of his country, etc… The best I could manage was to call him an asshole and that we would call the cops if he did it again. Ugly.
The next hour was a gloomy ride as we kept looking over our shoulders to see if we were going to get run down and we went back and forth over the things we should or could have said. We were both quite shaken. As if on cue a van stopped in front of us and a very nice retired couple who had been following us for the last two weeks jumped out and the spell was broken. We had a good chat, our faith in humanity was restored and the rest of the ride we enjoyed the scenery and the beautiful day.
Later that evening as we were riding through Te Anau a woman randomly hung her head out of the window and screamed at King to get off the fucking road. He was doing nothing wrong. As this is the most touristed area we have been in we hope it’s not what we have to look forwards to. We stopped in a park and were once again bummed out when a young German cyclist came over for a chat and the spell was again broken. She said she hadn’t had any problems in six weeks of riding so maybe we just had our Friday the 13th a day late.
Sunday, March 15th.
Spent the day catching up with Rodney, shopping for food for our 4 day hike tomorrow and visiting with Paul and Fiona McDonald and their budding young baker/daughter Laura who was making delicious cupcakes for the first time. We need to figure out how to get these on a daily basis 🙂
Paul very kindly took us out on the lake for a bronco bull-ride spin on his jet boat through some of New Zealand’s most beautiful scenery. Thanks again to Lynda and her friends and family for the introductions and the hospitality.
Monday to Thursday, March 16th to 19th. The Milford Track. 33.5 mile hike.
We spent the last four days hiking with all of our food and gear, staying in cabins on the Milford Track. It is billed as one of the world’s most scenic hikes and it lived up to its reputation.
Every day the scenery was stunning and each day it got better.
There were fungi along the path, ancient trees, waterfalls and curious birds at every stop. We were lucky with the weather over the pass, the highlight of the trip.
A ranger had told us that she had hiked it 8 times this season and it had been clear once.
The closer we got to the top the more the clouds lifted until you could see the Southern Alps in their glory in the clear morning air.
Curious Kia parrots raided our camps two mornings and tried to get into anything left out.
All of the birds that we encountered were curious and showed little fear of humans as they followed us from tree to tree or wandered out of the forest to see if we would leave any scraps on our breaks.
No showers or phones. Lots of friendly and funny conversations over freeze dried meals with contacts and photos exchanged at the end.
Look forwards to running into Baz and Ellen sometime in the future. We enjoyed their company.
If you have a chance, do a trek in the New Zealand Alps. It’s truly God’s country and with some luck you may be blessed with good weather.
Saturday, March 20th. Rest day in Te Anau.
Carrot cake seemed appropriate for breakfast and sore legs and sunshine were the day’s theme.
Map of our route