It was another cold night last night and I had light condensation inside my tent and dew on the left and front which were not sheltered by the tree behind me. Dan told me later in the day that he had ice on his tent. I woke to my alarm and saw Dan had already packed up but snoozed longer not wanting to leave the warmth of my sleeping bag. By the time I got up Dan was gone. I packed up pausing to warm my hands occasionally.
At 0820 I was off with sleeves down and wearing gloves. I could see the sun further up the valley so was walking fast to warm up and get to the sun. Unfortunately the track was through grass so my shoes got wet and then I had to cross a river so my feet were cold.
The track was now on a farm track so I was able to push the pace and reach the sun. After 2 km on the track I crossed a swingbridge and finally my hands were warm enough to take my gloves off. There was a couple of hundred meters following the fence then I popped up the bank near Rock Hut which is a musters hut though it looked more like a house than a hut. It is out of bounds to us.
Now it was 12 km on a nice gravel road farm track. The first 2 km was climbing onto the ridge and going up the hill I was passed by several vintage cars who all waved and blew their funny horns. This was not what I was expecting to see on a farm track. The last vehicle stopped to offer me a ride and explained that they had stayed at Rocks Hut.
At the top of the hill I caught up to Dan as he was having a break and we walked together. Once again he was a very considerate walking partner. He walked slightly behind me until he had worked out what speed I was walking. We mainly walked in silence with sparodic conversion.
At 1100 I stopped for a break and he kept going. We have quite different routines; I have a break every hour and a 20-30 minute lunch whereas he normally doesn't take as many breaks in but has a longer lunch often drying out his tent during this time. During my break I sent a text to let my parents know I was still alive having forgotten to do so in Te Anau. I also rang a landowner for permission to cross his land tomorrow. This is the only time on the trail that we have needed to do this for which I am greatful but I don't begrudge this as at least he is letting us through.
The road passed a memorial to a farm worker and then I left the road and followed a fenceline beside turnips. At the top I caught up to Dan and we descended following tracks made in the long grass by cows. I had a stare off with a bull who didn't want to move but he was so intimidated by my immense bulk (for a stick) and moved off.
Because the road was so good we made good time to the road reaching it in only 4 hours 10 minutes. Now it was back to no track and following marker poles along a stream. Mainly it was on grass and easy going though there were a lot of thistles to go through and around. At one point we had to cross the river where one landowner would not let us through and once past this land we crossed back and headed back to the road.
After 100 meters we turned left into a Eucalyptus Forest where we walked up the edge. At the end of this we had lunch before heading across farmland on a route different from the map but well marked by orange marker poles. Then onto a grass track up a long hill. I managed to accumulate 17 sheep on the track ahead of me most of the way up the hill. I think they were a little tired by the end but good for me as they trampled the long grass ahead of me. I just had to pay attention to miss the presents they left on the track. I discovered that while Dan is faster on the flats and downhill I was faster up this hill.
At the top the views were great and I could see where I had come down the ridge yesterday.
Now it was 4 km downhill on good forest roads and then into Woodlaw Conservation Reserve on a nice bush track. At the first stream I gave a guy a fright as I approached. He was section hiking from Bluff to Queenstown. He had a massive Aarn pack. He was impressed how far we had come which we didn't think was far. He asked times to the forest and the next stream which may not be useful as we gave him our times which will be much quicker than his. It is only when you meet normal trampers and Northbounders in their first few weeks that I remember just how fit I am and how distances that seem normal to me are actually quite far.
After a little more climbing we then descended quickly to a pine forest and out to a farm track.
We were going to make a decision to camp here or push on to the bush after the next daylight only area. However there was no water so the decision was made.
At the first house we came to we asked to fill our water bottles and the lady was very helpful, asking if we needed anything else. I am sure if we asked to stay the night or for food she would have said yes but I did not want to inconvenience her and was keen to push on.
My pack was now 3 kg heavier as I filled my drink bottles and 2 litres for campsite. This wasn't too big a problem as it was a short walk on a gravel road then turning right onto another road for 1 km to the Island Bush Forest.
Unfortunately the sign here said daylight hours only and no camping so we could not continue. Luckily right beside the gate was a grass patch large enough for our tents and with a bonus great view. Unfortunately for Dan where he camped was hard to put his pegs in and I had to use my little pegs rather than my normal V pegs.
I had my normal dinner and then snacked as I read until it got dark. Thankfully the noisy birds shut up and it was silent, less the crickets, as I went to sleep.