Where I did everything right because I learned from my mistakes last time! Almost.
I was really nervous to start this 3 day, 2 night hike. After getting my ass handed to me on the Kepler in more ways than one, my confidence in my abilities was waning. Also, I still couldn't walk properly. The forecast for the hike was actually looking pretty good, a little rainy the first day but full sun for the two after. I spent the night before at a hostel in Invercargill, where I was placed in a room with four 18 year old girls. I suppose that was karma. One of them insisted on making out with her boyfriend DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM ME. On someone else's bed I might add. Then got pissy when I was packing my stuff at 7pm because she had presumably been sleeping off a hangover all afternoon. For the record, when I am asleep at 3pm I don' get all huffy when people make noise, I just sleep through it. The good news is, trying to escape my room for a few hours, I stumbled upon the most beautiful rose gardens just across the street. My Mom could probably happily live in them for the rest of her life.
Waking up for day 1 was as predicted, cloudy and threatening to rain. I hopped on the bus for the first leg of my journey to Stewart Island where the Rakiura track is located. The bus took me to the ferry where we left 30 min late. Once I got on the boat I understood why. The water was rough. Reallllyyyy rough. To get to Stewart Island you pass through the Foveaux Strait which has a less than stellar reputation. I felt like I was in The Perfect Storm, the boat was being lifted out of the water and crashing back down. Basically I assumed this was the end. The staff however were drinking coffee and laughing, which did reassure me we must not be going down. Now I am usually pretty great on boats with regards to sea sickness. I was on a boat in Hawaii where most people were barfing and I felt just fine. Not this time Melissa. A good 1/3 of the people on board were losing their lunch. I just gripped the sea in front of me and reminded myself that I am sure I have had hangovers that felt worse than this. I am pleased to tell you the boat did not go down and I did not puke.
Once off the boat I felt 100x better. I made my way to the DOC center and got my campsite tickets; yeah this time I'm camping both nights! Once again, I'm not paying for a shuttle to the start of the track, I'm walking the 5km! I never learn. This time however my bag was more reasonably packed, I would say I had it down to 20kg haha Reasonable. I made it to the start of the track, took out my camera andddd it starts to rain. I sense a pattern. I snapped a couple quick shots and set off for the actual track. So of course it stopped raining then.
Day 1 on the track is only 8km and a beautiful walk. Several times you actually get to hike on the beach itself which is pretty cool. It was also nice that because it was a short first day, I was able to take my time and really enjoy the hike. I got to camp with little trouble and set up my tent. Well, I tried to. The campsite is right up from the beach and the winds were going a bit so I was having a hell of a time. A really nice guy who actually lives in Invercargill and was hiking for the weekend helped me get it staked down. Now to put the fly on...how the hell does this work? It's like one of those puzzles you get in your stocking and never solve. Well it looks right, I guess? Must be right because it's on!
I settled down for the night and let me tell you, am I glad I got that sleeping bag liner. 4 degrees. It got down to 4 degrees that night. I was just warm enough. Shout out to my sister for getting me big fuzzy socks for Christmas, they saved my toes! All night I heard kiwis outside my tent, it was amazing.
Day 2, let me just crawl out of my tent, why is it so hard to get out of?! Oh look there are other campers here now and they have the same tent as me just bigger! My fly...it's...upside down. Oh sweet Jesus. Practice makes perfect I guess!
It was a beautiful sunny day as predicted, but I spent most of it under the cover of trees. I had heard day 2 got a little muddy as it was straight through the forest and they had heavy rains recently. About an hour in you come across these giant old machines from when they used to log on the island, makes you feel a little better about your 13km hike that day. Day 2 was pretty uneventful scenery wise as you are literally just in the bush. Two exciting thing happened that day however. One was a fly followed me for two hours hell bent on driving me out of my mind. I actually started to question if the fly was real or if I had cracked. Second exciting thing, MUD! So much mud. For once I was smart and put on gaiters before hand. I sunk up to my shins at one point and also fell really hard going down a steep section. My cleverly positioned tent however, absorbed the entire blow muahah Every time I hike, the last hour is a total mind game; this day was no different. The last 30 min I got very angry that I was somehow still hiking. This caused me to speed up so much that I passed everyone ahead of me and made it to camp first. Unexpected side benefit of hiking anger, now I get first pick of the campsites. I set up my tent properly this time and spent most of the evening down by the water taking pictures. I was hoping to spot some kiwis since I stayed out after dark, but no luck :(
Day 3 was another sunny day, I am so glad it didn't rain while I was camping! It was another fairly easy day of hiking, much less muddy than the day before and there were a couple of places to stop on the beach. One was Sawdust Bay I believe and the tide was way out, leaving all these mollusks for the birds to feed on. Lots of adorable sea snails. Being eaten. I MISS YOU GARY (my former pet Giant African Land Snail). About 2km outside of town I see a girl walking towards me, as she gets closer I realize I know her. It was the same girl I had lunch with day 1 of the Kepler! New Zealand is a small world in the hiking community it seems. We chatted for a while and I have a sneaking suspicion I will bump into her again. I limped the last 2km into town, at this point I was very much feeling the 100km I had done in the past week. I made it back by 2:30pm and managed to change my ferry time to 3:30pm instead of 5pm. The ride back was nice and smooth, I actually slept most of the way. I got back to my hostel and found some energy I didn't know I had, did laundry and cleaned up all my muddy gear. Then I ate a personal sized $2 Hawaiian pizza and drank chocolate milk for dinner. I do what I want, vegetables be damned!