Distance today: 16.1km
Distance total: 2427.7km
Time hiked: 6h 15min
Time total: 738h 08min
Some more rain fall over night, however blue sky when I leave Kiwi Hut. Taramakau River is easy to cross, Otehake River not. I start fording the river about a hundred meter upstream the confluence with Taramakau. It all starts well, at one point however, the current gets stronger rapidly. Approximately four meter before reaching the other side, the inevitable happens: I lose hold. Before getting swept away, I jump which brings me two meter closer. I cover the remaining two meter by swimming. While swimming these last two meter, I float down quite a bit. But that's not a big deal as there's plenty of space to float.
Once across, I immediately change clothes and continue downstream. Slow-going over shingle banks and small boulders. At least the sun is now shining into the valley and warming my cold body.
I follow the official TA-Trail along the Flood Track to Morrison Bridge. A big mistake. The hair-raising, unmaintained track that sidles above Otira River in very steep terrain. Dozens of fallen trees make it nearly impossible to proceed. Numerous times I need to backtrack as there is either no way through the mess or because I can't see a marker. A steep drop on my right makes it impossible to leave the track. So I follow it for two hours until I spot a small side track leading down to the river. No question: exit, exit exit...
I follow Otira River to Morrison Footbridge. Initially, I planned to arrive here at 10. The miserable track added 2 hours though. With another 8 hours to Goat Pass, it's gonna be a long, tiring day.
Before I continue however, I have to take a break to calm down a little. The river crossing and the Flood Track really strained my nerves.
While grabbing my lunch out of my pack, someone is stepping out of the bush. It takes me a few seconds to realize who it is: Lionel! What a surprise - I can't believe it! I knew from Waitomo that he buried his food here but I never ever expected him here.
He followed my "Follow-Me" page and was waiting for me for two days (he wasn't exactly sure when I'd show up) with food and hot coffee. Exactly what I need right now.
He offers me to spend Christmas at his place in Hokitika. An offer I can't decline. Especially after such a hike.
On the way home I learn that 8 hikers came through yesterday. Apparently they also fall in the river where I did. Tricky river...
After a well needed hot shower, we do a Tiki-tour around Hokitika. Especially the gorge is an amazing sight. A shame the sun isn't shining as the colors would be amazing.
Once back, I get treated with a delicious dinner. First time Whitebait for me. I love it!
Before going to bed, we head out to the Glow-Worm Dell, where hundreds and hundreds of glow-worms are glowing (obviously) in the bush. What an amazing sight and a great way to end a very special day.