19 Feb. I was out of my tent at 06:00 thinking that I would have to be quiet around the hut but everyone was already up getting breakfast. All were anticipating a long day.
Fiona and Sheila were off before us, heading out to their car. There were fewer streams for drinking water along this stretch, so I carried an extra couple of litres in my 4 litre water bladder. The TA walkers were pretty much all off together and I walked with Svenja for the day, taking turns at pace setting. After about 10km we met Sven and Leonie. They had camped at Maori Lakes with Jake and Cass. As we crossed the Hakatere Heron Road, Tim and Di overtook us on their bikes. They had stayed at Double Hut about 6km before Manuka Hut. Parents were providing them support crew, picking them up for the river shuttle.
We had judged the time to allow for a comfortable pace rather than having to rush. The time constraint today was the shuttle leaving Potts River car park at 17:00. Walking with Joe for a while, I discovered he has spent the last 4 years walking a number of trails around the world after his divorce. He sold his property and aims to keep walking until his money runs out and then go back to work.
We had a few short stops for stream water where available, and a half hour lunch stop, but we were on the move all day, arriving at the pickup point at 16:30. Well timed. We had walked 34.5 km in about 9 hours with 350m of climb. While waiting, I asked the group what their longest daily distance had been. Some had done 50+ km days on North Island, but the consensus was that they were not worth it. The number of rest days you needed for feet and legs to recover exceeded the time gained.
Michael arrived at 17:05. Not bad timing considering he had driven about 450km on shuttle journeys today.
Arriving in Geraldine at about 18:00, I found a room at the Crown Pub for the night. Bought some food items at the Fresh Choice supermarket before they closed at 20:00 and dinner at the Central Cafe; fish & chips followed by ice cream sundae. Calorie overload. 😊
I am on the shuttle back out tomorrow morning at 08:15 for a three-day section into Tekapo. The forecast is for a fine day, but with rain on subsequent days, so it will be good to get up Bush Stream at the start before the rain. This section has the highest point on the trail; Stag Saddle at 1925m, but Bush Stream is at 600m, so not quite as much of a climb as it sounds. Once over that, the ground will be familiar as I walked it over Christmas with Kevin and Harry from the tramping club.