Day 72. Miner’s Camp – Punga cove Resort. 10km. Total 1727km. Christmas Eve!
I wake up at 5am and have a short peek at the sunrise before going back into my sleeping bag – it’s very cold! At least the rain stopped finally and it’s a beautiful day ahead. Coco and Peggy were so freezing they didn’t sleep much at all. We only have 10km to walk before arriving at the Backpackers where we will celebrate our Christmas today. (We are one day early compared to the Kiwis who celebrate on the 25 December).
It’s a very easy hike with beautiful sunlit views on the ocean and coast. Some earthquake damage / cracks are still visible and it’s scary to imagine having been hiking here in November during the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami warning!
After noon we arrive at the Punga Cove Resort. We are staying in their Backpacker section but it turns out we can use all the facilities. We get an amazingly nice welcome including some biscuits and a small milk jar for our coffee later. I also get a parcel which I assume to be a Christmas present from my family. I can’t wait to open it but we decided that presents will be opened after dinner only.
Each of us has a small single room with a shared bathroom. It’s so nice and clean! After our coffee we change into our bikinis (my friend brought an old one from Germany which I will dispose of after our Golden Bay break and before continuing the trail). We happily sit on nice chairs in the sun right at the beach listening to Christmas music, reading and sleeping (for my part). When we start to be eaten by the sandflies we head into the hot tub for some more relaxing.
Then it’s shower and another tea and coffee before organising Santa hats and taking pictures, sending them as Christmas wishes around to family and friends. We also get some oil from the restaurant for our Christmas dinner. Everything else was delivered by watertaxi. We prepare an amazing dinner which we can eat outside on the balcony overlooking the bay while playing Christmas music. First, creamy Seafood soup, then pasta verdure (pasta with carrots, paprika, broccoli, tomatoe sauce). We are very full and need a break from eating so we open presents! I am so happy about my parcel, it turns out it’s full of chocolate, ginger bread and Baileys! Wow, we have some chocolate before preparing our desert we brought with us, a chocolate fudge you prepare in the microwave, also pretty amazing! Christmas eve was a big success, it’s all about eating back home and we have done a very good job at that tonight! I am very thankful to have spent this day with my friends!
Day 73. Punga Cove Resort – Treetops Backpackers. 23km. Total 1749km
My wake up alarm is just before 6am to call my family, all reunited in Germany for their Christmas Eve. (I woke up anyway just 10minutes before the alarm). Tucked up in my blanket I sit outside the restaurant with view on the lake (the only WiFi location) and talk to my family, all united at my parents’ home. So good to see everyone on screen, I just wish I could be there as well! It feels strange to be on the other side of the world, although this other side can be pretty cold at night as well!
Then it’s a lazy breakfast and start around 9am. We have a longer day ahead, 23km and about 8h, following mainly the ridgeline between 0-400m altitude. So quite some up- and downhill hiking. It’s not raining but the sky is cloudy and grey, not a good one for nice pictures. The trail is really easy to walk on and the views are incredible. The ocean has such great colours, changing from turquoise to green. Someone set up handpainted signs, indicating directions or cities. There are many benches, picnic tables and toilets. What a luxury trail! I shouldn’t get too used to it 😉
We walk for a while with another German hiker before stopping for our sandwich lunch break. Through some beautiful forest with trees (beech?) having black trunks, a final easy downhill stretch before arriving at 5pm at the Treetops Backpackers.
It’s a small house with 2 bedrooms. But one is already taken so I have to sleep in the living room, more or less hidden behind a see-through curtain, plus it’s rather dirty. Another couple also comes in for dinner to use the kitchen. Well, usually I get up early so hopefully I will be up by the time everyone comes through! I do my stretching, we have tea, relax and have dinner before playing UNO and Scrabble.
I hope all of you enjoy wonderful Christmas days with your loved ones!