Day 119. Roses Hut – Arrowtown. 23km. Total 2648km. Frozen.
Today we start a bit later, we will walk through a river and if we start early it will be even colder. Later means actually that we start at 7.30am, seems we are just ready anyway!
One more saddle of more than 1200m to climb. This section had the highest number of saddle climbings on the TA! The sun is shining again and sets a beautiful morning light. Sweating a little but also freezing I have to wear my gloves again.
From Roses saddle we can enjoy once more the stunning landscape before walking back down once more, following the ridgeline and eventually arriving at the Arrow river. Now we have the choice, walk down in the riverbed or doing another crazy up and down climbing next to the river. The river it is and the first minutes are OK, until we have to walk longer sections in the water. The cold water. The freezing water. The unbearable freezing cold water. It’s so cold that it is physically painful to walk in that river. I am waiting for my feet to get numb so they don’t hurt anylonger but it’s not happening. They just hurt. All I want is to run down that river and be done with it. But for Peggy it’s difficult, with her blisters the feet hurt even more and she doesn’t yet have the same speed. So for the first time I find it quite hard to wait for her, my own feet hurting so much because of the cold. I guess we have just taken the wrong choice to walk in that river, but our hiker friends are doing just the same, painful faces and just getting done with it.
We walk past a few gold miner’s, they must have had their equipment flown in! It’s so strange to see the big tent and equipment on such a narrow bit of land next to the river. Why would you spend weeks or months there digging for gold???
The walking is getting a bit easier further down with more stretches out of the water and we can even eat some berries on a bush along the way and I also pick some wild mint, what a treat in all that frozen feet madness. It must have taken more than 2h in the river when we finally get out in Macetown, a former gold mining town (1863 – early 1900) now only consisting of a few ruins. It’s noon and we have lunch in the sun, warming up our feet.
After lunch we follow first a 4WD track but then have to veer back on the trail for one more climb up Big Hill! Some more suffering further we finally arrive at the saddle, which has good views to Arrowtown.
As we sidle further along the mountain we get to see Lake Hayes and it’s finally so much fun to walk along this easy but exposed trail with beautiful views. I am singing and enjoying myself again, all pain forgotten. After a while we enter the forest and down it goes again, taking quite some more time before we finally reach Arrowtown.
Arrowtown is also a former gold mining town but it’s still alive and has the cutest houses ever. Our goal is of course the Patagonia ice cream store. Delicious and well deserved we freeze ourselves from the inside once more. And just because today was hard and we did so much climbing the last days, we even eat another 2 huge scoops portion. Now we are frozen inside ;-). And then we are really full and just manage to walk the final kilometer to the holiday Park where we set up our tents, shower, cook dinner and sleep!
Day 120. Arrowtown – Queenstown. 28km (walking 18km). Total 2676m.
We are already getting into Queenstown today! It always felt so far away and today I will be there. We start early again, but today’s trail will be easy peasy. We head out of Arrowtown and towards Lake Hayes.
At an intersection we decide to shorten the trail by 4km and take the old more direct Te Araroa trail to Frankton.
We walk along and over Shotover river and then into an industrial area and stop at the Pack’n’Save! Wow, I haven’t been to a big supermarket for a while and am overwhelmed by the choice. I should only buy food for 4 hiking days but I guess I bought again more…
With heavy packs we walk to Noel Leeming, an electronic devices shop where I want to buy a camera. They don’t have much choice but the camera I wanted to buy anyway is on offer. But…. Not available. 3-5 days delivery time. The other cameras are not really good or what I need. The vendor tells me that the camera is available in Invercargill though. That means another 2 weeks without camera until my very last trail day. But at least I know I will have a good camera for Patagonia and it’s on sale for a good price. So I buy it and have it waiting for me in Invercargill.
We continue to Lake Wakatipu and stop at a bench for lunch. I am not in a good mood, disappointed about the camera. It’s 7km to Queenstown and we don’t feel like hiking. There’s a bus stop. The bus arrives and we get in. Just 10 minutes instead of 2h later we are in town! Cheating can be nice sometimes!
We had booked a room in advance and as the dorms were full, we booked a double room which comes at just 41$ each with our low carbon discount. Surprise, it even has an ensuite bathroom and towels. A real luxury treat for us!
We spend the afternoon eating, walking around the town, eating again and I book my flight back to Auckland for end February. Yep, the end is coming close now, just about 2 weeks to go!