I woke at 6am and snuggled in my sleeping bag for while, delaying getting up for as long possible, as it was so cold! When I did, I managed to make my breakfast and cup of tea from the comfort and warmth of my sleeping bag. I left at 7.20am along the Cascades track, which led into the winding Ports Water Race track. The Ports Water Race (now a big ditch running to the side of the path) was built to supply water during gold mining times. It was abandoned in 1950.
The trail was pretty easy to follow, and a little bit boring to be honest. It twisted and turned along the contour of the hill with the ditch to the side. Sometimes there was a river to cross, the odd fallen tree to climb over and the occasional log balance or scramble up or down to cross a gully.
Along the way I kept getting painfully spiked by a plant offloading their tiny seeds on the end of tiny little needles! It took me ages to identify the plant, then I eventually found it – a grass, with small brown seeds at the end, which looked harmless enough, but when I brushed past it, the seeds caught on my leg hair, pulled out the seed and dug the needle into my skin! That’s what you get for not shaving for a month…!
I was really keen to get out of the forest. So keen, that I took the Mathieson exit at km 2949 which led through farmland to the road and shaved about 13kms off the day’s walk (and skipping the Long Hilly Track). I reached the farm at 1pm. From there it was an easy walk along gravel road to Colac Bay. All the NOBOs had told me about the food available at the Colac Bay Tavern and campground. I had the burger with cheese egg, bacon and beetroot plus chips, which – while not particularly gourmet, was huge. I had a pint of Speights beer to go with it, which tastes nice in Southland. I bought a chocolate and hazelnut magnum for dessert.
While I ate, a little bit of Kiwiana took place in the corner. Some lads were playing a game which involved swinging a bull’s nose-ring, which was on the end of a string attached to the ceiling, to hook it onto a bull’s nose/hook on the wall. Fascinating!
After lunch I checked into a little cabin and washed my filthy socks and had a shower. I spent the late afternoon watching films I’d downloaded from Netflix in my little cabin. After 3 days with wet feet my eczema is back, so I slapped on some cream in the hope it will be gone again by tomorrow. It’ll be amazing to sleep in a bed tonight!