Te Anau to Queenstown

I have to say, getting back on the trail alone was liberating. I felt free again. I set off from Te Anau to hitch back to the trail head on Mavora Lakes Road on a gloomy, cloudy morning. As the rain began to fall, I hesitated; thinking I should go back to the warm bed I had left that morning. That hesitation was strongly washed over by my desire to get back on the trail. A nice woman and her daughter picked me up within minutes and I was off!

40km along a gravel road to get to the campsite. I was about 10km into my walk when the rain really began to fall. A car pulled up alongside me. Two sweet little Malaysian women asked me if I would like a lift to the lake. Looking ahead at the storm I was about to walk into, I happily accepted. After a long conversation about what I was doing and how careful I promised I would be on my journey, we arrived at the campsite. We snapped some selfies and they loaded me up with two minute noodles and instant coffee. Once again, I found myself blessed by the kindness of strangers. We said our goodbyes and I began my hike for the day.

16km to get to Boundary Hut. The first part of my walk was spent avoiding massive mud puddles and getting splashed by boys on dirt bikes who thought it was funny to ride past me as fast as they could. The second part of my day was spent praying and giving thanks to God for the opportunity I’ve been given to go on this journey. There is so much time for your mind to wanter when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. My mind decided to reflect on my past and the mistakes I’ve made in my life; then came the tears. Something about crying, just letting all of the sadness and emotion flow out of your body, is so therapeutic. All part of the healing process I suppose.

The weather was once again playing games with me. Sunny for 5 minutes, then hailing, on and off. I made it to Boundary hut as it started to get really bad. Hallelujah! I had a quiet, cold night alone in the hut.

The next day I woke up with the sun. Made my usual oatmeal and chia seed breakfast, packed up, and left with my sights set on Greenstone Hut, 22km away. Swampy, wet, muddy, grassy terrain for most of the walk that day. I felt a change in myself this day. I found myself smiling during my tramp. Dare I say this is getting easier?! Could I actually be ENJOYING THIS?! I was! Such a special, wonderful, elating feeling! I made it to Greenstone Hut by late afternoon. There were heaps of people already there. Greenstone Hut sits on a very popular route that many people come for fishing or a weekend hiking trip. In the hut, I met people from all over: a girl from Wisconsin, on holiday after finishing studying abroad; two outdoor adventure seekers from Australia; four Israeli guys; and a couple from Seattle who quit their jobs to travel the world. I found everyone around me very attractive; I felt so out of place. This hut was luxurious in comparison to the ones I had been staying in. They had toilets that actually FLUSHED. Too bad I didn’t realize that until the next morning. Oops. I had a great night sleep, warm and cosy in a room with 6 other people in it.

The next day I was lucky enough to hitch a ride to Queenstown with the couple from Seattle in their campervan. I got dropped downtown and once again felt out of place. Tourists and someone trying to sell you something everywhere you turned. I had to wait until my couchsurfing host got off work at 11pm, so I wandered the streets, trying to avoid spending any money in this overpriced town. I did happen to find a coffee shop, Vudu Café, which had almond milk. Not only did they make the best almond milk latte I’ve ever had, they served it in a BOWL. If you go to Queenstown, go there for coffee. Hands down, best I’ve ever had.

I spent the next day resting. Enjoyed a gorgeous walk along the lake. I can see the draw people have to this city. It’s so picturesque. The water is crystal clear and the mountains in the backdrop are stunning. I was grinning from ear to ear all day. The DOC said the status of the trail from Queenstown to Wanaka is all good, so tomorrow I depart! They said to be mentally prepared because it will be the hardest part of the trail I’ve encountered thus far. With sunshine in the forecast for tomorrow, I am optimistic.

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