I always said I’d be back home in March but as is common in my life I’ve left it to the last minute, well, last day.

The last three days have been particularly energetic, I find I have walked close to 100km and climbed and descended more than 3000m. It helps to have food and fuel at low tide in the pack.

Last night, almost 7pm when I strode into the campsite, I think I recognised a particular tent, pitched down at the high tide mark alongside Grove Sound.

It was fitting that Fiona and Anthony emerged along the track, the first walkers I met on Te Araroa are also going to be the last. We started on the same day at Bluff but haven’t seen each other since the Telford campsite in Southland, halfway to Queenstown.

They have been getting my messages passed on by occasional SOBOs and hut books and we spend this final evening trading stories and drinking hot chocolate and a few sips of cider supplied by their son, Tom, who is accompanying them on the last days on the trail.

We swap boot stories, two of three pairs fail to make the distance, various tales of arduous days, starvation, lovely people encountered, crazy people encountered, etc, but despite the cheeriness and happiness of the occasion we are clearly all more than tired, physically exhausted, feet bruised, shoulders weary.

It’s going to take a month to regain normality for our physiques.

Our spirits are undimmed, both euphoric and sad simultaneously.

Now all that remains is to hitch the 70 km back to Nelson.

← TA Day 84 | last night at Davies Bay campsite