11 Mar. A longish day ahead with a need for a hitch into Te Anau, so we were up early at 06:30 and Richard and I were off walking at 07:50. A couple of km from the hut we forded the Mararoa River easily. It was briefly up to thigh deep, so wet boots again for the day. Jimmy disappeared at a faster pace than us.
The route took us down the true left of the river for 14 km. It was a fairly overgrown route with frequent boggy sections but of no real concern with wet boots already. We reached the Lakes Road at 12:30, which made a convenient lunch stop. Aliss and Gail joined us there soon after.
After an hours break. We all donned packs for the 10km of gravel road to the junction with State Highway (SH) 94 on a main road into Te Anau. Richard had an accommodation offer in Te Anau from a friend Paul. Paul also happened to be driving into Te Anau via SH94 that afternoon around 16:00. Richard and I have the same pace length so we set into a rhythmic march, much easier than walking! My GPS indicated we were doing 5.5 kph and we arrived in good time at 15:25, got seated on a comfortable patch of ground and watched sheep being herded across the road. In all we had walked 27.5km in 7:35 hours.
Paul is a builder and his van had seats and pack space for all four of us. Aliss and Gail had booked in at the Te Anau YHA and Paul dropped us off there. Luckily the YHA had one spare double room so I booked that. Not quite as luxurious as a motel room but fine for the purpose. YHA give a 30% eco discount to TA walkers, which I will donate to the charities.
Aliss, Gail and I arranged to meet up for dinner. Outside the YHA I got talking in the car park to Kelli from California, currently working as an au pair in Auckland. She was getting her pack sorted out for the Great Walk Kepler track tomorrow.
After a drink at the Redcliffe (happy hour 17:00-19:00) we dined at the Ranch Bar. Good pub grub including puddings.