Date: 15 January
Trail covered: 12.7km (kms 1931.2 to 1943.9)
It was cold as predicted during the night. No problem though. Each time I felt cold I just pulled the sleeping bag more over my head and if it got too hot then I’d just put it back. No dramas.
My legs hurt during the night though, I would lie on one side and then if my legs start hurting on that side then I’ll turn over to the other side. That’s not specific to tonight though. In fact that happens most nights. Tonight I could also sleep on my back, which I normally can’t do in a hut because when I sleep on my back I have a feeling I snore quite loudly. Doesn’t matter now though, there’s nobody around for miles!
I had weird dreams during the night, and they were all not very pleasant. One I can remember is that prisoners were in my town beating people up quite badly and another one was part of my neighbour’s house falling off and destroying part of my house. Plus several others that I can’t fully remember.
I woke up at 7am. Since I’ve been staying in huts the last few days, that feels like a real sleep-in! I made myself my small breakfast consisting of all my remaining food (except for the emergency couscous).
I checked out the view when I finally ventured out of the tent.
The tent fly was very wet. I kinda hoped that it would be dry but it was not to be. I had to pack the tent away wet knowing I’d have to dry it at the Alpine Lodge.
Also my power bank was now empty, which was surprising – it was showing half full just two days ago. I do hear that they lose their charge if they get very cold. At least I know I can make the batteries on my devices last 8 days if I need to.
Time to get moving. The track is 4WD track all the way down to the road.
My pack has virtually no food and very little water, so it was very light, and the terrain was easy. I had to resist the urge to run down the hill.
I noticed I was above the clouds. It was quite a weird feeling. I’d forgotten that I had camped 1,300m above sea level last night.
Its lucky I did camp near the high point. Just down from the high point there was a sign saying that Beebys Knob Road (great name for a road) is private property and there is to be no camping.
Soon I saw a house!
And then a few more houses. Wow I’m almost back in civilization.
Uh oh, a locked gate. I guess now I have to go all the way back to Pelorus Bridge – there’s no way out.
Of course, you can step over the fence to the right. Then there’s a big sign. With a sign this big, I definitely know I’ve just completed something special. Goodbye Richmond Ranges, it was nice knowing you.
I had a chuckle at this yellow mountain-biking sign. I know I was complaining about how steep the track was but it wasn’t as steep as this!
On the road now. I was now in the Tasman region, which felt weird because I was just here two weeks ago between Christmas and new years eve.
And apparently there’s a skifield here. The South Island must have a lot of skifields that I don’t even know about, compared to the North Island which really only has two (plus a couple of other very tiny ones).
I noticed on the signs that they signpost the street addresses starting at zero.
I wonder if there really are people with 0 on their letterbox in the South Island. I can just imagine the phone conversation:
- Where would you like your pizza delivered?
- I live at Zero Beebys Knob Road in Tophouse.
- Yeah sure ya do. And I’m the prime minister of Timbuktu. [hangs up]
The highway signs were interesting. I clearly don’t know the geography of this area. I thought getting to Nelson from here would require going all the way back to Blenheim but I guess I’m wrong.
And I was really surprised to see a sign to Christchurch below that sign. I really thought Christchurch was in the other direction. I have a feeling though that it’s signposted here because when there was an earthquake in Kaikoura in 2016 State Highway 1 got closed for a long time and so people had to go this way to Christchurch.
During the road walk I booked my shuttle from Boyle Village to Christchurch with East-West shuttles for 22 January. It was very easy.
Coming into St Arnaud I had in my head one of those alpine towns you see in movies, with big A-frame houses in front of big snow covered mountains. But then I remembered we are in New Zealand, not Switzerland, and it’s summer. But it was still quite a nice town anyway.
Now I’m in town I’ve finished the walk for the day. My first stop was the Dine Hard café to get breakfast #2 (and as it turned out, breakfast #3 also).
At 11am I’d finished breakfast but not left the café and so my 11am picture is my view from my table outside.
I think this is the first time that 11am has come around and I’ve finished walking for the day.
I had a stroll past the Alpine Lodge on the off chance they’d let me check in this early but no dice, I was sent away. So I had a quick walk to the Nelson Lakes information centre to check out the weather forecast (great). I got a brief glimpse of the lake I’d be walking past tomorrow.
Then on to the St Arnaud General Store. I knew the store was small but I didn’t realise it was a tiny store inside a petrol station.
I had to buy 6 days worth of food from here to make it to Boyle Village through Waiau Pass. Lucky I’m not too fussy. Everyone else I have talked to has either posted food here or is hitching to Nelson or Blenheim to get a better selection of food.
Surprisingly I managed to get everything that I wanted from this tiny store except pretzels and Berocca tablets. I also bought some new sunnies. The 5th pair of sunnies I’ve had on the trail. Let’s see how long they last.
Here’s my entire resupply, everything except the sunnies and 500g of Tasty cheese.
And here is the damage…
People have said that this store has a small selection and is expensive, and that was true, but I still think it’s less hassle than posting a box of food here. The postage costs at least $10 and the Alpine Lodge charges $15 to receive such a box so by the time you factor that in, unless you really want something specific, I can’t see why people bother posting boxes.
I had 90 minutes before I could check in at the lodge so I just used the time to chill out and relax. During that time I worked out the deal with the phone vibration. Each app has its own vibration settings it seems. Gmail was turned off, hence no vibration when I got a new email. Weird! On top of that, the phone itself has a weak vibration motor and so I can’t even feel it when it vibrates in my pocket. That sucks but perhaps there’s an app that makes the vibration longer or something.
I checked in at the Alpine Lodge right on 2pm.
The first thing to do was laundry, as well as dry out my tent and everything from this morning.
I looked at the weather forecast. Not even a cloud in the forecast until 22 Jan, and even then its only “partly cloudy”. Amazing!
I put my cheese in the communal fridge. If anyone touches it I am going to hunt them down. Hopefully I don’t leave it behind, but I have a high-tech way of ensuring I don’t.
I had dinner at the lodge, and I had a nice view by the window.
During the meal, a couple came in and asked the waitress for a table by the window. She said that sorry the last one is reserved. I probably had a smug look on my face because the couple gave me the evils. And they got seated next to the crying baby – lucky them. Although as I was sitting by the window, I got treated to the pleasure of flies buzzing loudly trying to get out the window. Gross – I get enough of those out on the trail.
Also during the meal, at the table next to me, was another couple, a big guy and a small girl. When their food came out it was a “nourish bowl” with kale, avocado, greens etc and a lamb shank. I expected the girl to get the nourish bowl but no, she got the big lamb shank and the guy got the nourish bowl. I thought that was very funny for some reason.
There were at least three other TA walkers at the lodge tonight but I seemed to be the only one in the restaurant. I got a black beer, a gigantic soup and some gnocchi.
And of course, this.
After all that I needed to walk off some of those calories so went for another walk around town and managed to find a geocache near a church. It’s lucky I did because I saw my towel on the clothes line on the way back. I would probably have completely forgotten to take it if I didn’t see it.
So far I can’t complain too much about the Alpine Lodge backpacker accommodation, except if you’re in a ground floor room like me, you can hear every footstep from the people in the kitchen which is on the first floor. It’s very loud.
And the wind sure is howling loudly outside. Odd, since the forecast said light winds!
The Richmond Ranges were great but I’m looking forward to the Waiau Pass which is the next bit. 5 or 6 days to Boyle Village and apparently it’s one of the highlights of the whole trail.
I think the mice of the last few days have made me nervous. After going to sleep I kept hearing rustling in my newly-packed food bags. I told myself it was nothing but then I heard a big rustle. I shone the torch on the bags and had a look, and saw one of the bags move. So I quickly got dressed, and moved the bag to out in the hall. I unpacked every single thing in the bag but there was nothing there but the food. It must have just been the way I packed all the things in the bag, with everything settling or something. Stupid mice!
Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):