20 Jan. Up again at 06:00. Off at 07:10. An easy walk down a 7km four-wheel drive track to State Highway 63 and 10km along the road into St Arnaud. NZ roads can be quiet, but the first car to pass me with my thumb out was after 40 mins and 2.5km of walking, all uphill! It didn’t stop immediately but then pulled over way ahead. It was an NZ couple heading down to Franz Joseph and they had already picked up Oceane who was behind me, and she had put in a request to pick me up as they passed. Thanks Oceane😊
We were dropped off in St Arnaud which has one general store/fuel station/cafe. The initial order was a steak pie and flat white, followed by a big breakfast and another flat white. I checked in at the Alpine Lodge which was full of familiar TA walkers. My laundry was done before I got my room at about 13:00. Showered, shaved and gear out to air, late lunch of salmon pizza with nice greens. Afternoon checking with the DOC visitor centre on track conditions and food shopping for the next week.
Katrina organised a walkers table for dinner. Anise, Katrina, Oceane, Jordan, Troy and Demelza were on the table. Demelza is waiting for a friend to join her on the trail. She has been an osteopath in Auckland and is trying to find something closer to home in Alexandra, Central Otaki. Steak for me with fresh veg followed by sundae. Should keep me going tomorrow.
Talking with the hotel manager, he reckoned that about 3000 walkers are coming through on the trail this season. The trail brings important tourist $ for small communities like St Arnaud.
That’s 249km of the 1300km covered in 11 days and I am currently running to my planned schedule. The next break point will be after a 7 day tramp to Boyle River where I plan to take a 3 day break in Hanmer Springs. The route is about 115km and follows valleys with a couple of passes (Travers Saddle 1787m and Waiau Pass 1870m). Mobile signal is extremely unlikely due to remoteness, but you will be able to follow my progress via the map page.