There will be much longer days than this which will be far easier, guess there’s a buildup of tiredness that just crashed in today.

Maybe not having brekkie was an issue, I just packed up early due to my more public positioning of the tent than I imagined last night. Definitely the best location for a campsite in my travels, with perfect short grass and so close to that lapping water with a view over Lake Wanaka.

I thought I might treat myself to a cafe breakfast for once but it wasn’t to be, Albert Town had a pub, closed, and a shop that sold milk, pies and yesterday’s rolls. I settled for the milk, a couple of pies and one of yesterday’s rolls. Yumm.

I met two couples heading south on TA, and stopped for a chat with each to get the lowdown on what’s to come, and dispense some advice, there’s an immediate recognition of similar types with us TAers, like Citroën drivers might have camaraderie, plenty to talk about, camp sites, rivers, hill climbs, where to stay in towns, resupply. There’s something in the shabbiness of a typical TA tramper that makes us easy to recognise.

Then, around lunchtime I ran into another solo SOBO, Loic had started at Cape Reinga in early October and had only missed the Tongariro Crossing, snow, and the Tararuas, appalling weather. He immediately plunged into a rambling conversation of the incoherent sort, the kind I love, vague concepts, philosophy, meaning of life, wrapped up with tales of major body surfing injuries that required months of rehab, depression, complete recovery, someone to express their love of life in general and this track currently. We rambled on for an hour and a half, two blokes happy with our own company and with finding a like-minded soul.

As I staggered into Lake Hawea, that’s the locality, can’t call it a town, not the body of water, the slow realisation hit me, I need a rest day. I guess the 18km taking 10 hours was a fair indicator, you can make the excuses, the meetings, the temperature, Wanaka was 30°C today, the heavy pack, the sore feet, the sore body, but all in all, that all adds up to the idea that a day off would do me some good.

I camped out the back of the hotel, $10, then proceeded to spend more than three times that on a huge chunk of delicious food, ie, not spaghetti, and a solitary beer.

The alcohol hit my system vigorously, I haven’t had any since, well, the South Seas Hotel on Stewart Island. I was almost asleep before I finished my nosh.

Actually I first struggled across the street to look at the last of the light on the hills, a huge view down the lake, somehow this is the more attractive of these big lakes, to date, maybe the lack of well-heeled tourists doing their thing, the lack of major development.

I’m taking another day to soak it up.

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