March 18th 2017
Lake Tekapo – pines campground
Total distance: 1526.1 miles
I had such a great nights sleep in a huge comfy bed. No blogging. No social media. No staying up too late on my phone. After a breakfast of weetabix and bananas (an apple and banana in less than 24 hours. Go me), I said goodbye to Sian and Colin, who are going to Timaru (or Timbuktu as Sian calls it) for a break. We then picked up Sandy and Colin and Jules took us all into town to begin where we left off.
We said goodbye to Jules and went to the cafe so Colin could get a coffee. I wasn’t going to get anything but I wasn’t able to resist the pull of a cheese and pineapple toasty. I wasn’t carrying a lot of food so I thought eating lots in the morning would be ok.
We set off eventually around 9:30am. We had a lot of miles to do today but they were all flat so it should be achievable. Thankfully it wasn’t as hot as yesterday, New Zealand is funny like that, the temperature variation between days is quite extreme. It was a good 10 degrees cooler today. The wind was cold and the clouds looked a bit threatening and we hoped it wouldn’t rain.
The trail follows the Tekapo canal for miles and miles. It’s basically like walking along the LA aqueduct, except you can see the water. It forms part of the alps to ocean cycle pathway and many people choose to either skip this section or bike it. We saw so many cycle tourists today I lost count. The view was almost the same for the whole stretch. It alternated between gravel and paved road, although for over half of it there weren’t any cars.
The weather varied so much and my coat was on and off all day. I spent a lot of the time with my coat half on and half off. The wind was blowing and making my left side very cold but the sun was making my right side very hot, so half and half it was. I was ahead of Sandy and Colin all morning, I plugged my podcasts in and I just walked and managed to maintain a consistent 3 mph pace. Just after I crossed the highway I waited for them to catch up and we took an hour lunch break.
I then went on ahead again, enjoying being on my own and just feeling really great today. It was such a nice walk next to the canal, the Instagram filters (my sunglasses) were doing a great job with the colour of the water and the clouds, and I was so distracted with nice thoughts about what the future could hold I had to stop listening to my podcasts because I wasn’t concentrating on any of them. High on life today. I feel a lightness that I haven’t felt for some time, a feeling that all the opportunities are mine for the taking.
I met an old man who asked me where I was going, turns out he was a British man who moved here over 50 years ago in 1964, but he still sounds like a country bumpkin – he grew up in Somerset! As I moved on I passed a salmon farm and there were loads of people fishing along the canal. The salmon farm is huge, I think it’s about 3km long. I don’t like people fishing, the way they do the cast away thing where they flick the rod back, I always think they are going to take my eye out with the hook. Unlikely I know, but a fear nonetheless. Every so often I would see a fish jump out the water.
A few of the people fishing spoke to me and where very surprised to find out what I was doing, and they were stood right on the trail without any idea it existed. Eventually the trail leaves the canal and joins a paved road with views over Lake Pukaki. My legs were starting to throb and my feet were hurting, flat road walking hurts my body so much. All my joints were screaming. A few miles along the road got me to the first camping option. I had been keen to go the 26 miles this morning to get to the second camp spot, but Sandy and Colin said they only wanted to go to the first one. When I got there I was ready to call it a day. They arrived soon after I did and said they had run along the road to catch me up and they wanted to go 5 more miles to the next camp ground. Bugger!! The tables have turned!
So, I agreed. It would be nicer to wake up closer to Twizel, even if I really don’t want to go any further right now. I found a second wind and got the 5 miles done in 1 hour 20 minutes. With the sun a lot lower in the sky and the lake stretched out to the right, it was a nice walk along the cycle way, away from the cars and I blazed through it. My heart sunk a bit when I got there because it was so busy. So many car campers and caravans. It’s a free campsite, there aren’t any facilities here, and I’m sure people are here just to see the stars as it’s slightly quieter than Tekapo.
It’s getting cold once the sun goes down, and we pitched our tents quickly. I was able to use my stove to make a hot meal which, after so long without it, was such a treat. I watched the sunset from my tent, only slightly spoilt by all the vehicles.
It’s 10pm now and we have a bunch of very loud Germans next to us playing terrible music, there are endless sounds of van doors sliding and slamming, and vehicles keep driving about shining their headlights very brightly into the tent. I hope everyone shuts ups soon. On the plus side, the stars are amazing again, but I’m very tired and sore after my marathon day so it won’t be long before I’m asleep. Hopefully the Germans will get tired soon too.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.