Monday, February 4, 2008

Back to the coast

So we've made it to Riverton on the south coast of the South Island, we can see the hill of Bluff. Its only a few days away, we'll be finishing there on the 7th of February. It's hard to believe that after all our planning and months walking that the end is literally in sight.

We started off this section going through the Takitimu Ranges. I nicknamed that day 'Angry Foliage Day'. It brought back memories of struggling through the North Island bush, with every plant trying to entangle you. There was a vine similar to Bush Lawyer that hung down above us, the tiny hooks digging into our clothing and skin and ensnaring our packs. Lining the track at shin height was a constant trail of a benign looking grass which actually had nasty hooks at the end. The worst part was that we could walk past some of it and be fine, other times it hooked your leg so it felt as though a knife was being pressed into our skin. Not the best feeling.

We headed through five farming stations over a couple of days. The biggest by far was Mt Linton Station. We started at the back end of the station, walking down the 4WD tracks to eventually get to the main road. It took us most of the day to walk through it, right from the start I decided that this was one of my favourite stations so far. Everything looked well maintained with nice fences, good roads, and a bustle of activity. Often we head through farmland and don't see anyone, just a bunch of stock hanging out. When we got to the road end we found out that it was actually one of New Zealand's biggest stations and had over 100 000 head of stock. We knew it was big, but had no idea it was that big. Thank you to all the station owners who have let us walk through their land, we really appreciate the access. It gives us the opportunity to stay off the main roads.

Dennis celebrated his 27th birthday on the 2nd of February. The gift offering was a little meagre, it can be tough when his birthday falls on the 5th day of a 6 day section, there's only so much extra you can carry. We ended up pushing on further than intended that day and made it to Riverton so we could at least go out for dinner.

Throughout our hike we have come across the most generous people who have been really interested in our trip and willing to help us out. It has made the trip for us, we have loved meeting a wide range of people from all over the country. This section was no exception. We stopped in at one house to get water and were offered an orange drink - on a hot day there's nothing better than a cold glass of anything but water, its nice to have a change. We also met the family from Blackdale Stud as they were herding their sheep down the road. We ended up going back to their house for a chat, some cake and were given some fresh eggs. These experiences really brighten our days.

We've come across some amazing local hospitality here in Riverton too. We're staying at the Riverton Lodge, which at $10 a night is the best deal around. We met some of the locals at the pub attached to the lodge last night. Since then we've been given fresh crayfish, a driving tour around Riverton, and are heading out for a home cooked meal tonight. We have been blown away by everyone's generosity. Thank you so much, we won't forget you.


Dennis and his gravity defying socks
The landscape around Mt Linton Station
Sunset at our campsite
The sheep from Blackdale Stud heading down the road
Riverton from the Aparima River