I was surprised that no one was up early and managed to sleep in until 0800. I kept a wary eye on the Weka who were hanging around as I started to pack up.
They may look cute and innocent but really they are commandos with excellent tactical skills. They even run in short bursts like trained soldiers. They start with a deception plan by approaching warily as if they are scared of you and so you don't think they are a threat. Really this is their reconnaissance to sus out if there is anything worth stealing and their angle of attack. They will then withdraw to discuss their battle plan. "Rangi did you see she had bread at the front right of the tent". "Yes I did Jane and there were some muslea bars in the pack pocket". "Right we will go for those, she seemed observant so lets go for the distraction from the right and grab from the left". Roger give me 2 minutes to get in place, moving now".
In the meantime I have started packing my tent and notice a Weka approaching making a bit of noise. Knowing they are usually in pairs I spot the other approaching my pack and yell at it and they both withdraw.
Once they withdraw - "Jane did you hear the accent?". "Yes Rangi she is a Kiwi, lets move on and find a tourist for easier pickings".
5 minutes later further up the hill "stop give zat back" he he.
I left at 0900 and today was a little harder as there were a few more hills and it was really hot- as in 30 degrees celcius. There were a few open bits and I really felt my energy being sapped in the heat. I took heaps of breaks and took it easy. It was a day of beautiful view after beautiful view. I took the option to go up Eatwells Viewpoint and it was worth the extra 1.5 km (according to the sign but I am sure it was only 500 m each way.
I had lunch on a rock in the shade looking towards Picton.
After Torea Saddle was a big climb up to 400m and the track narrowed and was a bit rougher but still good relative to TA average. I decided it was too short a day to stop at the DOC campground at Torea Saddle and the next one was another 16 km away which was too long so I stopped at a private campground expecting a horrendous price so was happy it was only $16 - still way more than I prefer to pay when in my tent as I prefer stealth camping for free but that is not allowed on this trail. If you ignore the power pole right by my tent it is ok.
As I was preparing my dinner two trampers walked past and knowing that I got the last spot I told them I was happy to share. 5 minutes later Joe and Paula returned and set up their tent behind mine. Joe is section walking the South Island though he is doing all the way to Arrowtown so it is a huge section and he will be just as fit as the thru hikers by the end of that. He has done a long distance hike in Australia a few years ago that was over 600 km long and had 27, 000 meters of climb, who knew Australia had that many hills. Paula is just joining him for this section. We sat and talked about hiking, gear and backgrounds until dark then went to bed, or rather I should say mattress.