Sunday, 22 February 2015

Day 113. Riverton to Invercargill.

Today 32 km. Total 2962 km. 8 hours 05 minutes (0830-1635)

I woke early and just snoozed for a while. Then I ate my breakfast of hot cross buns (eaten cold) and some fruit. I left the Backpacker and conveniently passed a cafe so got a large cupaccino to go. I got back on the trail at 0830 and after passing though some sports fields and pine trees reached Oretei Beach where I stayed for the next 22 km. It was funny striding along the beach with walking pole in one hand and cappuccino in the other. The ultimate hiking combination.

The sand was firm on the beach but there was a lot of seaweed to pick my way through, though it didnt slow my pace much. I was occupied with the mystery of who was in front of me for some time. There were two sets of boot prints that I did not recognize. One was a male and one a bigger female or smaller male.  One was using two walking poles and one was not. This description did not match anyone that I knew walking at the moment.

Oreti Beach


Shellfish prints

Fantastic sand marks look like trees

Bright red seaweed

After 9 km I could see what looked like two people ahead but I couldnt be sure it was not just driftwood. I got closer and closer and confirmed it was two people sitting down so hopefully the mystery would shortly be solved. Before I could get close enough to identify them I had to cross a stream which was slightly too wide to jump across. I went to the narrowest point and took off one shoe and sock and hopped across. While normally wet shoes are not an issue, and in fact are the norm, on a beach with sand wet shoes can lead to abrasion issues as the sand sticks to the wet feet and socks.

Now across the stream I walked up to the mystery trampers and it was an American couple walking southbound who have done the South Island only. I sat down and we had a quick chat before I continued down the beach.

Only a few km later I came to a river and spent a little time trying to find a crossing point. When I combined the notes and map I seem to have missed the comment about a tidal river crossing and as a result had been a little blasé about the tide timings. Apparently this river should be crossed at low tide to mid tide and I arrived only a couple of hours off high tide. I quickly realized that there was no dry undie crossing point and went back to the best point which I estimated would be hip deep on me. The American couple had caught up by then and they followed my suggestion on where to cross.

I did my deep river preparation of Personal Locator Beacon around my neck and emptying outside and hip pockets into the main compartment of the pack. As I had company I kept my clothes on this time. I plunged into the water and it wasnt too cold until reaching undie level and then brrr. The current was strong enough to feel it but I did not need brace with my poles and was completely comfortable. Also it wasnt quite as deep as I expected but it was lower hip depth.  Once on the other side I watched the couple crossing and then asked them to take photos of me and convinced them back into the river for a photo of them. I stayed to dry my feet and put my shoes and socks back on while they continued ahead. By the time I had done that the area where we had walked across was largely under water and within another10 minutes I think the whole area would be a lagoon so I wondered how Jolein, Wilhem and Dan would get on as they were still not in sight on the beach behind.

Tidal river crossing a little deep

Definitely wet undie crossing

It wasnt long before I caught them up and continued on my way. The tide was coming in and there was one area that had come up enough I was forced to walk on soft pebbles and dodge waves which was not easy walking. Luckily this was not for long and I was back on firm sand. From here the vehicle tracks increased which would be okay if they kept to a track but there appeared to be lots of people who come to the beach for playing with their cars and lots of donuts and drifting which cuts up the beach and is not as easy to walk on as the untraveled sand. I still made good progress though and was at the turnoff the beach at 1400.

Tide coming in leaving horrible pebbles to walk on for a while

Sea birds against Stewart Island

Beach road

Now it was a road walk for 8 ½ km. The good thing about this walk was wide shoulder and even a gravel path for a large part of it. Even better was the amount of refreshment options with a Café and campground after 2 ½ km, a bar and takeaways (with ice creams) another 2 km along and a liquor store (sells soft drinks) another 1 ½ km along. From here it was along straight on a cycle way above the road to the bridge over the estuary.

Leaving the beach

Nice gravel path or wide road shoulder - luxury

Invercargill has a wide range of clubs

Walkway to the city

Invercargill Estuary

I left the trail here to walk into Invercargill to the main street to Tuatara Backpackers where I stayed the night. There was a Pak n Save Supermarket 500 meters away so I stocked up on dinner, lunch for tomorrow and some treats.

Then I updated my blog and went to bed.

Night 113

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