Te Araroa day 130 – and just like that, it’s the end

April 11th 2017
Invercargill – Bluff 
21.1 miles 
Total distance: 1876.6 miles. 

I had trouble sleeping last night. I had that feeling you get, of nervous excitement, like a kid before Christmas. I think I went through all the emotions, including briefly getting sucked into the post adventure blues before the adventure was even over! I probably got about 4 hours sleep, but it was easy to get up when the time came. 

We all left together around 8am and walked the first few miles on an estuary cycle / walkway. That was a bit of an odd experience, walking through a natural environment but surrounded by large industrial plants and some very funky smells. The was a constant rainbow to our right, but it wasn’t raining so I think it was from the pollution. It was completely flat and easy to follow so I spent some time on my phone, getting some last minute support and donations to Just A Drop and I was able to break the £3k barrier which was a nice boost to the start of the day. 

I strode out ahead a bit and put some music on. I came across a guy on a quad bike and he stopped to speak to me, apologising for the walkway not being complete and informing us we would have to walk the road to Bluff, which we did already know. He said all the funds are being sent to Christchurch which is still getting back on its feet after the earthquake. Later in the day someone else said that was ‘bullshit’. Everyone will tell you something different. 

Once we came to the end of the walkway we joined the highway. Everyone complains about the highway walks in the north, but this one is by far the worst one of the whole trail. The shoulder is narrow and the road is busy with huge transport lorries and logging trucks. Sometimes they have the room to move over to pass you but a lot of them pass very close and very very fast. You get battered by the backdraft and covered in grit and debris from the road. Maybe it was because the end was so close, but it was a real challenge to stay positive along this road. 

There is nowhere to stop along the road, and unfortunately I needed a wee along the way. So I just went in the tall grass which was fine, apart from all the grass that got trapped in my knickers after I pulled my pants up. As I continued to walk I could feel all the bits and walked along with my hands down my pants trying to dig them out but not wanting to stop. 

Lots of people waved, which was really nice of them, but after 3 hours it gets quite tiring and I mostly tried to keep my head down and avoid eye contact! Strangely I did look up as one car passed to see a girl waving at me and it was someone I knew! Sarah (Nuthatch) has been about 10 days ahead of me since the start of the PCT sobo. We connected on Facebook but this is the closest we have come to meeting each other in real life! 

I was pleased when the Bluff sign came into view and we could finally stop and rest and eat something. The Bluff signed wasn’t quite what I was expecting, surrounded my old oyster shells (Bluff is world famous for its oysters) if really stank of old fish, and the sand flies were out of control. It was the least relaxing break, so after shovelling in some food and taking a couple of photos we moved on. The next part of the track was closed because there were Bulls in the fields, so we had to continue on through town instead. At least we could now walk on a pavement. 

We passed a little shop and decided to treat ourselves to an ice cream, I asked for a double scoop, knowing that so far the serving size in the South Island is rather small compared to the north island. Not in this shop! I got served 3 scoops! We ate our ice creams as we walked the final couple of miles down to Stirling Point. 

The sign post came into view and then we were next to it and then it was the end. It’s weird finishing a long hike. You think about this moment a lot and yet when you get there you’re just there, and that’s it. You touch the sign, you take some photos, you get a little cheer from some tourists when they ask what you’ve done, you sit and have a little reflect and then you realise the sand flies are about to send you over the edge of madness, so you get up and walk away. 

We stayed there for about half an hour, got hugged by some Kiwi people completely off their tits on whatever the drug of choice was, and watched as groups of tourists came to take pictures of the signpost. We guessed that we would need to walk back to town to try to hitch a ride out. We probably would have stayed in Bluff the night had we not been invited back to Riverton to stay with my friends, but really there is no reason to stay in Bluff, there’s nothing there, unless you like Oysters 

Too cute!

We tried to hitch along the way, but no one picked us up so we ended up walking another couple of miles back to town. A man came out his shop and told us we wouldn’t get a ride from where we were standing and we needed to go further up, past the wharf, where we would probably get a ride from a worker on their way home. So we walked another mile up the road and after about 15 minutes we got a ride from a man who was going to Invercargill to pick up his daughter from basketball practice. He was really nice and took us out of his way to the other side of town where it would be easiest for us to get a ride to Riverton. 

It was getting cold now and standing on the side of the road wasn’t fun! We were there for about 20 minutes and no one was stopping, so I went inside the liquor store to ask the lady if she had any cardboard we could use to make a sign and, of course, while I was in there we got a ride! Andy lives in Riverton and when we described where we wanted to go we established that he went to school with the owners of the house we are staying with. He took us to the supermarket, where we bumped into James, another hiker. There are a whole bunch of people in town, including Sian and Colin and boy Erin who are all leaving tomorrow for their last two days to the finish, he then took us all the way to the door of the house! Some people are so kind. 

Reunited with Crusher, Scott, Rebecca, Holly, and I finally got to meet Nuthatch, we were cooked a celebratory meal. Tomorrow rain is forecast and I won’t be going anywhere. 

As of 15/4 my fundraising total for Just A Drop is £3430.60! I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who donated. And there is still time to donate to help me reach my target!  

I am going to take a little break from writing, because keeping the blog has been as hard as the trail! But I will be back with some summaries / thoughts / advice for future thru hikers. I’m not really sure how I feel right now. I was feeling ready to be finished with the trail, and I am definitely ready for a rest, but I’m already thinking about what’s next…


30 thoughts on “Te Araroa day 130 – and just like that, it’s the end

  1. Well done, Alex! Thank you so much for writing your blog so that we could follow along with you on your adventure. I will be sending another donation. Take care and hope you have a good rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Many, many congratulations Double Puff! Completing the PCT once is impressive; twice is doubly so. But to combine and complete the PCT and the TA in a single walk is a monumental achievement! And to think that you did it all powered only by chocolate, sweets and sodas (may your insides learn to forgive you one day)! A worthy charity and I hope you hit your £4k target soon. We will keep an eye out for your blue Berghaus puff next time you are in Salisbury. Well done again, thank you for keeping up your excellent blog, and now take some time for a well deserved rest!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome!! We have thoroughly enjoyed following you along both the PCT and TA. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey, all the highs, all the lows and the mental fortitude to keep trekking. You brough back a lot of memories of the TA for me and I know you have inspired others. Huge effort you should be proud off. Now go get some rest and enjoy a Sprite. Mick

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Alex,Colin & Sandy
    Greetings from down under Australia.Congratulations !!! on the great achievement.The blog has been a highlight of the ups and downs in the trek. I am going to start the trek in late September this year . Your writings have been very useful and I have enjoyed reading them.
    Simon B


  5. Big congratulations on finishing and thank-you for sharing your adventure. I really enjoyed following your blog. If your quick enough you will just about have time to start the CDT! Alex

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations and well done on all fronts – the walking, the blogging, the fundraising. Truly hope you continue posting (and hiking!), your posts are a huge inspiration to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi PuffPuff,
    You don’t know me but I have followed and enjoyed your blog since PCT nobo. Congratulations on another adventure completed!
    Mary Anne
    2018 PCT Hopeful

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well done Alex, I took a while to pick up your blog, but it was good enough that I had to backtrack and follow your tramp from Cape Reinga. I liked your mix of commentary, photos and personal feelings, so thanks for taking the time to post your blog, it can not be easy after a hard, wet day when all you want to do is sleep!

    I also liked your attitude to the North Island trail, the character building harder bits and also the less developed parts of the trail, especially compared to some other recent trampers. Can I suggest, (that if you have the data allowance), it is always great for armchair trampers to be able to view your photos at full size on a PC – see Stefan Marwick’s blog/photos.

    All the best on your next adventure, make sure you link to it from here. Enjoy yourself, you will never ever forget these times.


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Alex,
    Congratulations on getting to the end of this trail! I have read all of your trekking blogs and enjoyed them very much. You’re writing is very entertaining, and down to earth. Good luck with whatever comes next!


  10. Absolutely amazing! Well done! Thank you for sharing your journey with us, your blog has been amazing! I have looked forward to reading your posts every morning so don’t know what I’m going to do now on my way to work! I’m glad you have been able to raise a good amount via your fundraiser. Hope reentry into normal life is gentle on you.
    Thank you again.


  11. Puff Puff, awesome is a very much overused word. It’s use should be a criminal offence, except when referring to the type of adventures you have shared with us, for the last few years. You truly deserve the praise.

    Liked by 1 person

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