This morning was super gloomy in Invercargill, it rained all yesterday, but I have impeccable timing. By the time I’d zipped across on that speedy catamaran, the trip takes an hour and was relatively flat after my previous roller coasters, there were blue patches above and the forecast is good for the next four days.
I note that at 46° 30’ south we are marginally closer to the South Pole than the Equator. Despite being officially summer it feels like it.
I’ve become quite used to the Stewart Island transportation system, the minibus picked me up at my lodgings and I chatted to the driver on the way, he was early so he took seven passengers down to the end of Highway 1, my official start to Te Araroa in a couple of weeks.
I paid for tonight at the official Rakiura Track campsite, thinking there’s a hut warden, or just being good for once. I know once you proceed on from there it’s not so easy to find any level, dry, vegetation free spot to whack your tent up, well, until you get to Freshwater Hut.
So logistics. I’ve the full two weeks of food aboard, maybe 16 days if I don’t get overly hungry or can pick up some mussels or something along the way. According to the weather forecast Day 5 is supposed to be a bad afternoon weather-wise so it would be good if I could spend Night 4 up in the Tin Range, and that sounds like a plan. That might mean tomorrow over at the Tolson River, not likely to be disturbed there, halfway to Freds Camp Hut, then Night 3 at Rakeahua Hut, just near the start of the Tin Range Route.
The Great Walk campsite here doesn’t have all that much to offer. A flattish piece of sand to put the tent up, a cooking shelter with a couple of benches which is handy, a long drop toilet nearby, and two other tents, a couple of Swiss guys who aren’t so friendly, and a German girl with a tarp tent who is, she wants to know about the vegetation. At least I know all the big trees, some mature rimu around the camp site, and totara, although there have been plenty of twisted ratas. Also some ornithological enquiries, yes, that’s a tui, singing, and then it sweeps down to pick at some food stuff, I can’t make out exactly what.
The Rakiura Track huts are full apparently, I haven’t been down to the nearby North Arm Hut, three minutes walk, it’s approaching peak tramping season, official summer holidays, the thought of having to deal with too many people not at all compelling. Still, I’m not sure there will be many other bodies over in the Rakeahua Valley, maybe just some hunters.