Friday, 6 February 2015

Day 96. Lake Pukaki to Ohau River.

Today 41 km. Total 2450 km. 9 hours 10 minutes (0820-1500, 1630-1900)

It rained on and off all night and it was raining when I woke up so I went back to sleep.  By the time I decided to get up it had stopped raining.  For breakfast as well as my normal Complan and milk powder I had the instant pudding that I didn't eat last night as I was full.  I won't make a habit of this as it is way too sweet first thing in the morning.

I shook my tent of excess water and packed it up. From previous experience I know that even packing it tightly when wet the inside will be dry when I put it up and the outside will dry in 10 minutes,  even in the shade.  This is one of the great things about Cubin Fibre material.

Light rain began just after I started but these stopped after 15 minutes and then I got too hot and took off my wet weather gear.  I had more road walking today. Firstly past a power station to the main road. It was funny seeing the white dots all down the lake edge that were campervans.

More long straight road

Long straight road beside the lake

Now this is different.  Going under the water intake pipes for the power station

Power Station

Near the main road (SH8) I turned onto a lake edge track built/refurbished for the Alps to Ocean Cycle Track. This was like a gravel vehicle road and I counted this as road walking. Three bikers were on the trail.

Lake Pukaki and Mt Cook hiding in the clouds

 From the head of the lake it was over conservation land and I had my hopes up that it would be a nice trail but it was another vehicle track.  Just past the turnoff from the lake is an area I have come to several times when on training with the army. I can still remember where I sited everything when I depoyed as Company Commander in charge of a Combat Services Support Company - fun times especially with the great team I had. My reminiscing kept me occupied as I followed the new track through some pine trees and over a gully.

Then the track entered the conservation land which was flat and featureless.  I dislike this sort of terrain as you get no sense of progress and it always feels like it takes ages to get anywhere. By now there was blue sky with a blazing hot sun and no breeze.  On this section my pack felt heavy and most of the weigh on my shoulders.  I have lost so much weigh I can't do up my hip belt tight enough to transfer the weight to my hips. Also my bum has melted away so I don't have the platform I used to which my pack rested on. I need to get some padding for the hip belt.

Start of the track

On the conservation land - flat and featureless

Finally I reached SH8 and it was a short walk on a nice track beside the road into Twizel. I detoured here to the shopping centre where I had a pie and fruit juice.  They had no chocolate milk which I had been fantasising about.  I followed that up with a lemonade Popsicle which is very refreshing.  I took my time and was over an hour.  Just as I was leaving I met Marianne and Hannah, two young Americans,  who I had been following all South Island via the hut books.  I nearly caught up to them several times as I am faster in the hills but then I would take a rest day and they would get further ahead.  I finally overtook them after Rakaia when they took a rest day but they overtook me in Tekapo when I had my rest day. It was fun having someone to chase.  They will probably catch back up when I take a rest day in Wanaka.

I left them and made my way out of Twizel passing the large vehicle display related to the building of the power station nearby.  Then it was a vehicle track that would have been nicer before they cut down the trees on both sides. I did see an unexpected sight here - a Donkey.  In NZ Donkeys are not common and are considered exotic pets.

Not your normal town statues

Some big kid playing

Track leading out of Twizel

Friendly Donkey

The track headed back to SH8 and followed beside that until over the spillway for another power station then turned to follow the western side of Lake Ruataniwha. This lake was another with the beautiful turquoise blue colour in the sun.

Lake Ruitaniwha

Fishing near the lake spillway

The first three km was meant to be a track above the lake but again this was a vehicle track.  At least this one was easier walking than the gravel road righ next to it which had very coarse gravel. I followed this to the head of the lake then beside Ohau River. I started looking for a campsite at 1830 and 30 minutes later found one which will be ok unless there is torrential rain in which case I will be flooded. There are not many options for camping that is not prickles or potential swamp.  I went on a mission to get water which was not easy as there was thick matagouri and a prickly plant I think looks like a rose. Eventually I got through and back in one piece though with a few more scratches and some sacrificial blood to appease the prickly plants..

I had the luxury of fresh fruit which I had brought in Twizel so I forgo my normal pudding for a nectarine which was great. As I finish this it is starting to rain. I hope it doesn't rain too hard or I will by camped on a lake edge or in the lake.  As much as I an curious about how my tent floor would hold up I don't want to test it.

Night 96

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