6°C in the tent on waking up and a sprinkling of new snow down to about 1000m.

When I went to fill up my water container for breakfast down at the lake, the view up the valley, past the head of the lake, was superb, there was Mount Cook and Tasman quite clearly. Later the sun beamed on them, then, shortly thereafter, it all clagged in.

The wind had dropped right away during the night but so had the temperature.

I started walking up the hill with my five layers and two beanies on and didn’t start to peel until the 10km mark. It was a gravel road with a gradual incline that I could charge up at normal walking pace, just stopping for an occasional photo of the magnificence, all that fast disappearing snow.

Stopped for an early lunch at the Telephone Hut, a fine, albeit windowless, structure with two decent bunks and graffiti on the timber lining going back to the 1930s.

Just as I left I looked back down the track and could make out a couple of figures, dots, heading this way, the elusive Swiss couple perhaps, but I wasn’t waiting around. I’ve finally worked out that I needed to resupply today in Tekapo and it was Waitangi Day, New Zealand’s national holiday, maybe the supermarket shut early.

Not far away I could see an entire posse heading my way, four guys travelling together, time for a 20 minute break, the guys interested in what was to come, and their own adventures, high spirits, lots of fun, but I was on my way again.

After another few kilometres I ran into an older New Zealand couple and this time we settled in for good chat. Everyone today had come from Cape Reinga but these two had clearly more affinity and warmth. They had followed the official route, and this is rare, many hitch a bit when they shouldn’t or take the easy path, but not these two. They suggested that I turn around and walk back but, well, that’s life, the best bits all too brief.

I suggested today was the halfway mark of the South Island, in distance, but they corrected me, it’s crossing Camp Creek tomorrow. They also said the temperature would be 25°C tomorrow, double today’s best effort, with the wind swinging around from the current SWer to a NWer, Canterbury’s warmest wind.

Peter worked out they had taken nine days from Arthurs Pass to Tekapo, they were surprised it had been so short. That gave me a good indication of how much food to load of board, somewhat less than 14 days I’ve been guessing I’d need.

Without the trail notes it’s impossible to work out the times, but I picked up many of the maps I need at Telephone Hut. For someone who is a list maker and a planner in general this is being probably the least organised of any of my recent tramps, but, what the hell, I’m surviving well enough.

The camping ground at Tekapo was at the wrong end of town, 2 km before the supermarket, so I decided to march on, spotting some forest to throw the tent up amongst.

Me? Antisocial?

I guess you could say that.

The clouds are almost gone, two other TA walkers I met said Camp Stream Hut had 20cm of snow around it this morning but by the time I make it tomorrow evening that will be gone.

It’s good weather, finally, at least for the next two days.

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