Day 133. Invercargill – Bluff. 36km. Total 3000km.
I couldn’t sleep much last night. Was I too excited? Very tired I get up at 6am. We want to have enough time to celebrate and start early again. The sun is just coming out as we walk through Invercargill back to the trail.
The first 10km are on a cycleway along the estuary on a gravel road. With the morning sun the beginning is beautiful, but afterwards not much exciting.
After the cycleway things get worse though. We hit the highway! It’s been a long time I didn’t have to do so many kilometers on a highway. I didn’t miss it. But somehow the last days summed up the North Island with the bush, mud, beach and now road. I think it’s a good ending after all for everyone who has done both islands. It gives time to remember and reflect the beginning. And after all, if the end would be the most stunning part, it would be even harder to stop and finish the trail.
I start walking pretty fast, not caring about my feet hurting. I just want to get over with the highway section and reach the end.
After 17km on the highway, we get to that nice big Bluff sign/letters I already saw on many pictures. Time for a quick photo session. Usually the trail veers off here to the coastline further south around the hill. But just last night I saw that it’s closed due to some crazy bulls on farmland we shouldn’t cross. This means: we continue on the highway instead and through Bluff town, we miss out on the best part of today’s section, we walk through the town which has a liquor store and can buy champagne, we will miss out on a few kilometers…
We walk through the town and continue further beyond to our destination, Stirling Point. Now we have nice coastal views. I can see a lighthouse and a sign that Stirling Point is just 1.2km away. Now excitement and emotions are fully taking over. So many thoughts cross my mind, everything I have achieved and endured but mainly how happy I was on the trail, how much beauty I have seen and wonderful people I met.
Just after we can see the yellow signpost and lots of cars. Regular tourists. Who don’t have a clue about our achievements. I am crying on the last few metres, almost running towards the signpost and hugging it.
It is an ending in different waves. After my first emotional approach and some quiet minutes, I am now feeling joy and just jump around. People look at us and understand immediately that we have achieved something big. But how big they learn in astonishment when we talk about the 3000km. It’s time to pop the champagne and take more pictures. We go with the waves of tourists, when no one’s around we go for another pic session, drinking champagne in between. Peggy is so kind and gives me all the time and takes endless pictures before we switch and I take hers.
I don’t know how much time we actually spent celebrating before walking back to Bluff town. But with the heat and sunshine the champagne definitely had its effects 😉
In town we sign the finisher wall in the little museum before hitting the road and trying to get a ride back to Invercargill. We meet Elodie and Frank, the French couple I last saw on the ferry to Queen Charlotte Track. What a coincidence, first and last day on the trail in the South Island !
We are soon picked up and taken back to Invercargill. We have a shower and put on our new clothes before going out for dinner with René, the suisse hiker I know from the North Island. Dinner in the pub is wonderful, salmon and vegetables and potatoes and white wine. I wanted to go to a bar and celebrate further, but I am too tired. I almost fall asleep at the table and can just walk back to the hostel, sleeping very soon like dead!
So this is the end. I will need more time to realise it. I will miss the trail. Miss following an existing path, not wondering and planning on where to go to. Just wake up and walk, eat, walk, sleep.
I am very grateful though I don’t have to return to a working life yet. I will go on more adventures and see what South America has to offer. It will be a completely different experience, starting with the language I don’t speak. I invite you to follow me on the coming adventures. I would also love to follow your journeys, I know that a few of you will hit the trail later this year, so if you write a blog, please send me the link!