I woke at 5.30am with the noise of my tent flapping in the strong wind. I got going at 6.30am with Llew. We’d been told it’s “all downhill from Queenstown” which is absolute rubbish!! and even though we were pretty much out of the Takitimu mountains, today started with a steady climb. Llew left me far behind. He was pushing on for another big day.
Today’s Te Araroa trail took me across the Mt Linton Station (a station being a really big farm dedicated to grazing sheep/cattle). Access is being granted to Te Araroa trail walkers on a trial basis, so I had to take care to stick to the poled route. I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t this. It was a lovely walk with lots of ups and downs & lots of variety in the scenery, lots of animals, and a couple of river crossings – which were pretty low flow.
I reached the 2nd river crossing at 9am and refilled my water, as this was the last refill stop before Birchwood. I’ve been drinking so much recently – I carried 3ltr water from here (km 2859). It was a really windy day and the small clouds raced across the sky. The whole of today’s trail was exposed with no shade at all. It was so windy in places that I was buffeted around and unable to walk in a straight line!
There was a good variety of wildlife today, different types of sheep and some huge black Aberdeen Angus cows. At one point a large bird of prey swooped in really low over my head. I thought he was trying to dive bomb me until he went back for a 2nd time and continued really low beyond me then rose up and caught a thermal.
I got into Sarah & Dean’s place at Birchwood Station hut at around 3.30pm. I was joined by Lucas (Belgian/Scot) about 30 mins later. The hut was very rustic, and used to be the old shearer’s hut. It had been kitted out with a little kitchen, bunks, lounge and a really hot shower! I washed both myself and my clothes and hung them up to dry outside. A little later Sarah brought a HUGE dinner over for Lucas – he’d ordered one earlier for $15. I was absolutely gutted that I hadn’t. It looked amazing!
In the evening Lucas and I sat on the verandah and watched the storm come in. It went from very windy (from the North) hot and sticky – to absolutely still and silent – to very windy (from the South) and cold…yes, cold !! In the space of 45 minutes! I’m actually back to wearing 2 merino jumpers tonight! We’ll see what the storm brings tonight and whether I’ll walk tomorrow.