March 25th 2017
Wanaka – Fern Burn hut
Total distance: 1636.2 miles
Last night was a bit of a disaster. There was a lot of loud noise so none of us got to sleep before 1am. Then at 6am, there was an alarm going off on someone’s phone. It was squeaking out some annoyingly repetitive tune and vibrating, waking up everyone but them. It was coming from the the tent of the girl we helped yesterday, after about 2 minutes I got up and shook their tent and told them to switch their alarm off. When everyone goes to bed late it means they also get up late so I was able to go back to sleep for a couple of hours.
We weren’t in a hurry to leave today as we had a lot of flat to walk before a small uphill to the Fern Burn hut. The communal area of the campground was even more disgusting than it was yesterday and there were so many people, too many people, around. So I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. My head felt thick and weird and I was just putting it down to lack of sleep and dehydration.
Markus left first, followed by me and Sandy and Colin were still eating breakfast when I left. The first part of the day was a really nice walk along the edge of Lake Wanaka. The path was nice and wide but there were a few more steep ups and downs than I was expecting, thankfully there were all fairly short. It was cloudy but warm and the hills soon made me get rid of my layers. There was some kind of event going and and I was passed by a few people running, tied together with a rope, having looked like they just got out of a kayak. There were quite a few people around in general, cycling and running and generally enjoying the outdoors.
The views over the lake seemed to change every 5 minutes so there was always something to look at. I joined Markus for a break about half way and he said he was having some troubles with his leg and might not go as far as the hut today. We carried on and when I made it to the Glendhu Bay campground, there was a nice picnic bench overlooking the lake where I stopped and had some lunch. I stopped for an hour thinking Sandy and Colin may catch up but I didn’t see them. The trail then leaves the lake and goes along a gravel road for about a mile before joining the Motatapu track.
It was a nice track which followed the Fern Burn river, and the weather had improved significantly, becoming clear and hot. So when the trail went into the trees I was pleased to be in a bit of shade. There were some really steep uphill parts, but there were lots of tree roots so it was more like climbing stairs which is easier than walking on a steep slope. I had plenty of time so I didn’t need to push it at all so I had a really pleasant afternoon. Until I nearly got taken out by a sheep, it came careering down the trail towards me and at first I thought it was a dog and it took me a few moments after it passed me to realise what it was.
About a mile away from the hut Markus came up behind me, he said I must have passed him while he was having a nap under a tree. We walked together to the hut, I had previously entertained my friends with the story of ‘that time I did a baked bean bath’, and Markus told me he had been thinking about it a lot and that I’ve inspired him to do something similar to raise money for charity when he returns to Germany. He said I have inspired a few people on the trail. Aw, that makes me feel all warm inside!
We made it to the hut after a few climbs and there were a whole bunch of people there. There are 12 bunks and I managed to get a bed before they all filled up, and there are about 4 tents pitched outside. I couldn’t decide what to do at first but I thought it would be warmer inside, I just hope it’s not too noisy. There are a wide range of people here, some southbounders and northbounders and some weekend trampers.
I’m here with Markus, and Colin and Sandy came in late after leaving late this morning, and Hugo is here having hitched around the lake and the road. I had a nice evening chatting with a group of older Kiwi / expat people, and the girl we met on the Queen Charlotte track who told us she was starting northbound in March was there, it was nice to see her again. She was planning to do both islands but after speaking to lots of southbounders she has decided not to do the north island because everyone had told her it’s ‘rubbish’ compared to the South Island. This makes me so sad, the north island is great.
You find with thru-hikers that they really don’t want to pay for anything, especially the younger ones, and some of them were complaining about possibly having to pay NZ$40 for accommodation in Queenstown. I found it a bit embarrassing, maybe because I’m British and maybe because it makes me uncomfortable when people are always expecting something for nothing. Thru-hiking is not a cheap way to travel, despite what people may think.
There are a lot of French speaking people here and they were being super loud so I sneaked off to bed because my head felt like it was about to explode.
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.