Te Araroa Trail Day 87. Nelson – St Arnaud – Blenheim – Zero Day off trail

Third and final pair of shoes for Te Araroa Trail

Te Araroa Trail Flip Flop

I’m now doing what’s known as a Te Araroa trail flip-flop… that is, doing it arse about face and not strictly following the trail ‘in order’ from North to South.

My next move

The forecasted terrible weather last week didn’t really come to much in Nelson. The North island got hit pretty badly instead. I was still happy with my decision to wait until a good stint of sunshine before attempting the Richmond Ranges alpine areas. As the weather still isn’t all that flash in the upper South island I made a decision to skip the Richmond Ranges and the Nelson Lakes section and am heading South, to walk Tekapo to Bluff first. I’ll come back up in February when hopefully the weather is a bit more settled.

I woke up this morning a little hungover – oops!! the product of a couple of cheeky Sunday afternoon beers with my lovely dorm buddy Rachel (USA). Rachel was leaving this morning to head to the West coast, and gave me a lift to St Arnaud. Once there, we had a quick bite to eat, and then said our goodbyes. I picked up my 3rd pair of trail runners from the Alpine Lodge. (I left my food box there for when I return in February).

The 3rd pair of shoes

Because my feet have swelled, it took a day of agony in Taumarunui to “wear in” my 2nd pair of shoes. I spent a day wearing 2 pairs of socks to stretch them out. So before my friend/trail angel extraordinare Neil sent my 3rd pair, I asked if he’d take them to the shoe doctor to get them stretched.

The shoe doctor refused, in case they split the fabric so Neil asked around at work and one of his colleagues, Tammy, who I’ve never met, wore them for a day around the office (yes really!!)… So when I picked up my shoes today, I slipped into a beautifully fitting, comfortable perfect pair of trail runners!! Tammy, you are a wonderful lady, and I owe you!!

Super-hitch to Blenheim

New shoes on and rearing to go, I met Julian (German) and we hitched to Blenheim. Today’s trail angel was Robert, a British Cambridge graduate on his OE here in NZ.

I checked into the Blenheim Top 10 Holiday Park and planned my next few days – essentially getting to Tekapo via Christchurch, and organising a bike for the Tekapo – Twizel – Lake Ohau stretch, which will be approx 95kms of gravel road alongside canals/lakes.

I’m loving the twists and turns my Te Araroa trail experience has taken over the past couple of weeks, and grateful I have the luxury of time so I can travel at my leisure, and do exactly as I please. By getting a little further South sooner, I will be also out of the main pack of Southbound hikers so it will be interesting to see what the next section brings, and who I meet next.

What wasn’t fun was meeting the drunk obnoxious guy at the holiday park who made some pretty nasty verbally abusive comments in my direction, whilst I was cooking my dinner in the camp kitchen. This was the first eposide like this that I’ve had in 12 years in New Zealand. I stood my ground, gave as good as I got and was thankful for the support of the other campers. He made a hasty exit.

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