Day 108. Camp Stream – Lake Tekapo. 35km (hitchhiked about 15km). Total 2389km.
Another night I didn’t sleep well. As Tekapo is known as the best area for star gazing I was hoping to see at least the stars but after a clear blue sky the whole day it was overcasted at night. As I didn’t recover much at night I decide that I will just walk to the road and hitchhike from there. Even I reach my limits sometimes and I am at that point now where I just need a rest. So I start to walk at 6am to be early in town and have the day just to relax. I hike along the river until I realise I missed the turn off and now need to climb steep up the hill to get back on the trail. But at least another great view awaits me on the top, Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo in the morning light!
At the intersection I take the turn down to the road, 8km on gravel road are just easier now for my body and knees than 8 more kilometers on the trail. I take a break in the sun, just sitting and enjoying the view. I can already see the road but there aren’t any cars! Well, worst case another 27km of road walking.
Arriving at the road I start walking. And walking. And walking. No cars. After 90 minutes à car passes but is heading in the opposite direction. Seems the trail God has decided I should walk all of it and not start hitchhiking now. That I didn’t have enough and still have enough energy for walking. For the first time I am in a really bad mood. I just want to arrive and relax. After 2h, salvation! A car arrives in my direction and stops! Three fishermen from the UK take me up to the junction to Lake Tekapo village. They are in New Zealand for 6 weeks to go fishing. Apparently New Zealand is famous for fishing due to the clear rivers where you can see the fish. But they just catch it to take a picture, then they put it back in the water. Strange people, the hunters only take pictures with the tahrs and the fishermen only pictures with the fish. No one is actually eating or doing anything with their target… But, now it’s less than a kilometer left to the supermarket and the YHA for my reunion with Peggy, finally!!! We spend the afternoon relaxing, eating, chatting, walking in Lake Tekapo with all the Asians (for once, not the Germans are the majority but the Chinese! They all gather at the church and a few wear their wedding dresses and all of them just take pictures of everyone and everything).
Day 109. Lake Tekapo – Pines Campsite. 35km. Total 2424km.
Another bad night as my knees still hurt quite much. I think it’s just bruises though, I can start seeing the skin getting blue now so hopefully it will be better soon.
The well-known starlit sky of Tekapo was beautiful though and the red sunrise as well.
We take our time in the morning, having a good breakfast and start hiking at 8am. We know that today will be an easy hiking day of 35km. The trail takes us out of Lake Tekapo village to the dam and then all the way on a cycle track along the canal. Changing between tarmac and gravel road, it’s so easy to walk and very flat!
We still have to catch up on the happenings of the time we didn’t see each other so time flies by fast in the beginning. At 11am our first lunch break with view of Mount Cook and when we can’t stand the heat any longer we take another lunch break at 2pm in the small shadow of a tiny tree next to the salmon farm.
Lake Pukaki finally comes into our view, another beautiful turquoise glacier lake.
With burning feet and blisters we walk the final 4km on the road to the Pine Trees Campsite. There should be a toilet plus water from the lake. We can’t find the toilet but we find the perfect camping spot. View of the Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook from our tents! A dip in the water and dinner (with vegetables! I am only carrying food for 3 days so it’s a feast!!!). This is the best camping spot I had so far.
Although the wind starts to blow in the evening, we don’t want to move to somewhere more sheltered, the view is just too amazing. Well, gale force winds set in during the night! I fear that I will fly away in my tent but also I am so tired that I fall asleep in between. It seems the TA is not giving me a rest, for once a very easy day is followed by a really bad night…. Checking the weather forecast I see another weather warning, a real storm coming with 130km/h. That’s a pity. From Lake Pukaki we had planned to hitchhike to Aoraki / Mount Cook in the morning and walk up to Mueller Hut, camping a few hundred metres from the hut on the advice of Tim. Muellers Hut is always booked out and costs 36$ per night, but the views are incredible up there so camping seemed perfect with the good weather we had the last couple of days. Now we need to replan, with a storm down here I can’t imagine how bad it must be up 1800m….
Day 110. Pines Campsite – Twizel. 19km. Total 2443km.
Last night the storm was so bad that Peggy’s tent almost flew away and she had to wake me up to repitch the tent as she was busy holding it. Once the stakes properly pitched again, it hold for a few more hours of storm until it was finally enough light to get up. Yesterday’s peaceful lake Pukaki is transformed into a raging sea with waves swapping all over.
No view left of Mount Cook, so we have to cancel our detour plans and decide to just walk the 19km into Twizel and stay at a dorm there. The weather forecast shows more bad weather coming in tonight. The first 9km are tough, we are tired and have to fight to get through the wind. Arriving at the visitor centre the sky has cleared up a bit and the wind calmed down (at least where we are, seems the storm is still raging up at Mount Cook.) We sit down at a picnic table and prepare some coffee and second breakfast.
After this good rest the final 10km to Twizel are easy, on a flat gravel road.
At the DOC office we are advised that indeed more rain is coming in tonight but that Ahuiri river should be doable in two days. We have her explain the detour though, I am not keen on walking through the widest TA river after all this bad weather. Peggy and I already decide now to walk the 12km detour to the bridge and not even try the river. Arriving after noon at the Backpackers in Twizel we can already hang out and have lunch before checking in. Mark and Pall arrive as well and we have a nice relaxing afternoon. I catch up on some sleep before buying food for the next 7 days stretch to Wanaka.