January Break

21-27 January

The morning after I stayed at Boyle Village the other two staying in the outdoor education centre realised they have way too much food. They joined an apparently large number of hikers who give away their food for free. Again I didn’t take any of it.

More free hiker food given away

Now I’m on my way from Boyle Village to Napier via Christchurch to attend my friends’ wedding!

The shuttle arrived as expected to take me to Christchurch, although there were supposed to be three others getting on from Boyle Village too according to the manifest. None of them turned up. I talked to most people who passed through the Outdoor Centre and none of them mentioned taking the shuttle. That probably means it was TA hikers who were still out on the trail and perhaps didn’t make it in time. I wonder who they were supposed to be. Would’ve been quite a full van if they were here, there were only four empty seats.

I was told when I booked that I had to pay $46 to the driver in cash, but he was expecting $48. That was a bit awkward. Although he admitted later that he was wrong – it was $46.

In Christchurch, I bought some important supplies, to replace the things I lost over the last few days and to get a big bottle of Deet because of the vicious sandflies.

Facecloth, Nuun electrolytes, hand sanitiser, Berocca, Deet-based sandfly repellent and water bottle once I drink the Pepsi
A new case for my phone. $75 for a small piece of plastic… although it is very solid and well built. However after four days the case was already turning brown, which made me unhappy.

I reluctantly got my hair cut so that I would look presentable for the wedding. My hair might have been a bit shaggy before but at least it gave me some hiker cred.

Outside the Christchurch Town Hall

Now I just look like an aging member of Justin Bieber’s backup dancers.

The next day…

I saw the “185 Empty Chairs” installation. It represents the 185 people who lost their lives in the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake. It was quite moving. 185 empty chairs (that you were allowed to sit on) on 185 square metres of grass. The installation is temporary, “as is life”.

I last came to Christchurch in 2013 or so. Back then they had made no progress on rebuilding the Christchurch Cathedral after the quake. It appears from the outside that not much has changed, although signs say that a lot of work is taking place inside.

Here’s the temporary “Cardboard Cathedral” used in the meantime.

I spent a couple of days walking around Christchurch and I also met up with my friends Michael and Lynda who drove me around. It was good to catch up.

The first thing I bought in Christchurch
The second
Kayaks on the river, looks fun
Can somebody tell me… what on earth are “vinlys”??
You got it, Mr. Number Plate, I will HIKE NZ.
Christchurch Central City tram ride. It costs $25 to get on this for a one hour ride. Yet it was full.
A guy cycling backwards down the street with his dog while juggling.
Here’s the same guy the next day busking.
Nandos, my first dinner in Christchurch
The bridge of rememberance
Kiwiana table markers in a cafΓ©
Here’s the Gorillapod that Sabine was using the other day to take selfies
A view of Christchurch from the top of the Adventure Park… unfortunately it’s quite hazy
Going down the chairlift. The Adventure Park is mainly a hill for mountain biking, hence the bikes going up the chairlift
Milk and cookies at the dessert bar
An interesting piece of art. There’s a geocache in there.
A great quote on the board

I remembered the food boxes people were sending to themselves at Boyle Village and I thought I’d do one for myself. It will be like getting a Christmas Present!

There are almost no shops between Boyle Village and Tekapo which is a long way… in fact it is over 320km. So I decided to send a food box to myself care of the Bealey Hotel (120km from Boyle, 2km from Arthur’s Pass) and then a few days after that I have to get a shuttle around the Rakaia River which will pass through Methven, so I can get food there also.

Can I just say I absolutely love the Christchurch City Centre Countdown.

Look how wide the aisles are! Why aren’t all Countdowns like this?

I got four or five days worth of food and my box was ready to go. It was 4.4kg and cost $8.80 to post from Christchurch to the Bealey Hotel. I’m happy with that because once it goes over 5kg the cost of posting it doubles.

I’ll be happy picking this up in early February

During my down time this week I have been looking at the visitors to the blog and I can’t tell much about them but I can see where people are visiting from. I know who some of the people are… Auckland, Oamaru, Arlington, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, hi to you guys! But one country which is high up in the list is Sweden πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ͺ. Who is visiting from there? Please leave me a comment!

The night before my flight to Napier I got an email from Air New Zealand saying that fog is forecast the next morning and therefore “there is the potential for your flight to be disrupted”. Oh great that didn’t help me sleep well. I looked at the forecast and sure enough, “low cloud” was forecast. Oh well, whatever will be will be!

The next morning I stood on the balcony of the motel and looked towards the airport. There is a small bit of cloud but it doesn’t look low and definitely doesn’t look like fog.

Will this be the cloud that derails the wedding plans?

On the bus to the airport, the cloud increased, but it still didn’t look low.

Or maybe this?

At the airport I went and got some coffee, and the cafΓ© had lolly cake but with icing on it! If you’ve read some of my previous entries you’ll know I like to seek out lolly cake. Never though have I seen one with icing. I approved.

What I didn’t approve of is the woman behind the counter with the deep, throaty cough making coffees and handling food.

There was also this interesting sculpture outside.

It is the subject of a virtual geocache, where you need to take a silly picture of your reflection to claim the geocache “found”.

As you can see by now there was no sign of fog. And sure enough the flight took off without incident.

Move it or lose it, other planes

I met some of my friends on arrival at Napier Airport who flew in from Auckland. My first task as groomsman was to taxi a bunch of us, along with a ton of supplies, around in this massive van. Luckily I can drive a manual.

You should’ve seen me trying to reverse it out of this spot and down the driveway.

The wedding was great, and it was a wonderful chance to have a bit of fun and excitement for two days. I’ll be honest though, it was a shock to the system after all the peace and quiet of the trail to have so many people in such a small space! (mostly drinking too)

Giant Jenga, one of the many outdoor games set up
On the way back to the airport. I got out of driving this time.

On the last day on the way back to the airport, I used the Air NZ app to check on my flight and I happened to glance at the weather. Looks like it’s much the same as when I left, but a fair bit warmer.

That is rather hot.

I also looked at my boarding pass and noticed that there are three 8s in both my flight number and my bag tag number, which is lucky (if you believe in Chinese superstitions).

But one friend joked that the single digit 4, which is unlucky, cancels out all the luck from the 8s.

The flight back to Christchurch involved a stop in Wellington but was otherwise uneventful.

I saw the Tararua Ranges from the plane… They look smaller from up here!

I have always liked Wellington Airport, not only because I got a “mousetrap” bagel (grilled Swiss cheese and Marmite) from Best Ugly Bagels but also because it always has cool big statues.

Wellington Airport birds

I had an hour and a bit layover so I wandered out of the airport to get the nearest geocache. It was about a ten minute walk from the airport and it was disguised as a butterfly.

Geocache near Wellington Airport

Once back in the South Island, after a dinner of McDonald’s I did a resupply at Pak’n Save in Riccarton in Christchurch.

I wasn’t exactly sure how many days I was buying for, but it was at least six. The kilo block of cheese I’m hoping will last longer than six days, so that I will still have some after I pass the Bealey Hotel and pick up my food parcel. But 1kg of cheese is heavy! So are all the snacks I bought!

I read that the Coast to Coast bike slash kayak slash run is being held just north of Bealey and Arthur’s Pass on Friday and Saturday, which is about exactly when I plan to pass through there. It isn’t clear whether things will be closed or just really busy. I might have to work around that.

I did some thinking. On day 50 when I arrived in Te Kuiti, I said that the second fifty days were going to be very different to the first fifty days. How right I was. The first fifty were walking through parts of the North Island I knew well and meeting lots of new people, and staying at my friends’ houses when I passed near them. The second fifty were walking the rest of the North Island that I didn’t know so well, almost entirely with Alex, Ethan, Charlie and Peter, as well as the Richmond Ranges and Waiau Pass in the South Island. That was definitely an unforgettable experience.

And since tomorrow is Day 100, it seems fairly clear that the next fifty days will be very different again. Firstly, there probably won’t be another fifty days. That in itself is weird. Secondly, I don’t have any more obligations or planned breaks in the trail. This really is the home stretch now. And lastly I’ve got no idea who I might meet up with..Β  hopefully I catch Rhydian again, hopefully I see Henry because I have a feeling he is very close by, and hopefully I meet a bunch of new, cool people (who walk the same speed as me).

14 thoughts on “January Break

  • Cheers from Finland!

    Planning on hiking te araroa next year, so it’s been great following your blog to get a better idea what to expect from the trail and New Zealand in general. Very helpful!

    Good luck with the rest of the hike!

  • Matthew – am enjoying your blog as I ponder my abilities (and my late 50’s worn out body) to walk the South Island as a NOBO in 2021. Also keeping tabs on a few others – the pace set by Alex and Team Belgium would wear me down in no time. Jeff (Greetings from Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.)

  • LoL, we were at Wellington Airport picking Kelly up from Perth yesterday. I guess would have been passing through later.

    Do we get to see your dancing skills Bieber dancer?

    Looks like there are plenty of snacks in that present you have posted yourself.

    • It just so happened that all the snacks were on the top 😁 I wondered if there was any chance you’d be at the airport but I thought what are the chances of that!

  • welcome back to the grind now the wedding is over, i hope the weather stays good for you,
    looking forward to reading your next lot of adventures.

  • Hi Matt, from Yorkshire, England. Loving the blog! It’s very inspiring. Hoping to do the TA in 2021 so it’s all good information. Also beautiful pictures! Keep it up 😊

  • Loved the Christchurch photos. Made me feel homesick. The sculpture outside the airport is new to me. Very interesting, as was the photo looking out of it. I also loved the board at the cafe with the Drinking Quote. Clever. Great number on your Boarding Pass and Bag Tag. I’d be happy with that. Looking forward as usual to seeing where you take us next. Safe travelling.

  • Welcome back Matt. Looking forward to following the rest of your trip. A different man after the hair cut!! πŸ™‚

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