Today was a fantastic day with some luxury track and some real TA track.
I was out of the backpackers by 0715 and walked back into town to the supermarket and then to a bakery to buy luxury lunches (compared to peanut butter on tortillas) for the next section. I had a pie for breakfast with a cupaccino. when I went to the pickup location Jolein and Willem were also there.
At 0800 the shuttle arrived and I asked the driver if I could sit in the front seat and he seemed surprised but was happy. I always try to get the front seat as it has the best view and it was a nice view driving up Lake Wakatipu.
We stopped in Glenorchy for 15 minutes and I got another coffee. We detoured to the start of the Rees Track to drop off a couple then headed to the Greenstone Track carpark. As the official Te Araroa Trail restarts by the lake I asked the driver to drop me off there rather than the carpark. I then road walked the 2 km to the carpark.
There were heaps of people sitting around I presume waiting for their uplift. This is a popular track. I started down the trail and it was great walk standard to the first junction.After 15 minutes I passed the couple that were in the same van as me. The track was wide and flat above the river. I crossed the Swingbridge and was now heading up the greenstone river. The track was narrower but still fantastic and fast though I wasn't in the mood to push the pace. I was loving being in the bush which was mainly silver and red beech trees. There were several Robins, some Tomtit and some of the little birds I like which I think are some sort of wren.
Several times while walking I realised I was smiling because I was enjoying the trail so much. Though the trail was generally flat there were a few rougher spots to keep the attention focused. After a while in the bush and after passing several waterfalls the track came into the open which opened the perspective to the towering mountains around. There was one river to cross and you could go straight across and get wet feet or take a long way around to a bridge. I took the wet feet option as it just doesn't seem right having dry feet. Then it was more bush until reaching Greenstone Hut.I had been worried I was going to take the DOC time but squeaked in in 2 hours 50 minutes.
The one frustration of this section was I was having a bad lace day. I couldn't get my laces at the right tension. They would be too tight so I would loosen and then they would be too loose. This continued over and over.
I read the hut book while I snackedon a lovely walnut and caramel brownie. As I was about to leave Jolein and Willem arrived which surprised me but they said they stayed at the car park for a long time and I didn't see them when I passed through.
Within a minute of leaving the hut I had to walk through a swamp getting wet muddy feet which was an indication of what was to come. This track was a true Te Araroa standard track. It was rocky, rooty, wet, muddy and undulating and I loved it once again smiling often. I took a major tumble at one stage and when I grasped what had happened I laughed before righting myself, wiping off the dirt and continuing. I was lucky it wasn't in a muddy bit. A few times I misjudged the depth of the mud and sunk to past shoe height.
After what seemed a long time navigating the wet bits and deadfall the track emerged into the open, firstly alpine shrubs, then grass and then tussock. The whole time water underfoot was regular. The track went along the side of the hill to avoid the swamp but then dropped down and I sloshed through the swamp. Once I was surrounded by tall tussock and couldn't see the next marker as the track had only light to non existent ground trail. I ended up walking forwards hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive marker and regularly looking back to make sure I didn't lose sight of my last marker. After 50 metres I spotted the marker to the right. From then on the path was clear to see until reaching the hut.
I put my tent up straight away to dry it out from being packed wet yesterday. Chelsea, from Australia, was at the hut and she was admiring my tent. I went down to the river for a wash and to clean my shoes and socks. Chelsea is doing south island part of TA. We talked for a while and I munched on my luxury, short section, treat of salt & vinegar rice crackers. Jolein and Willem turned up and we talked while preparing dinner. As usual after 2100 we went to bed.