Distance today: 34.5km
Distance total: 3352.7km (TA-km: 3008)
Time hiked: 8h 38min
Time total: 1018h 52min
Last day on Te Araroa!!!
I didn't sleep well. Simply too excited...
The first part of the day is anything but exciting though: 26 kilometers on cycle trails and along a busy State Highway 1. It's raining heavily and in combination with the wind it gets once more unpleasantly cold. You probably think I fell super happy being so close to Bluff, the weather however makes it not easy...
Luckily, the rain stops and there's even some sun by the time I reach the final track of Te Araroa, the Foveaux Walkway. The track initially leads through farmland, with sweeping views of the rugged coast. It's all very exposed and the strong wind makes walking on the rough track tricky. Upon entering a conservation area, the track turns into on a really easy, gravelled track for the last 4 kilometers.
My brain wants to fly along the track towards Stirling Point, make it there before the next rain shower. But somehow, my body doesn't feel like playing along. It seems all the energy has vanished.
For the last couple of weeks, I've been wondering how I'd feel on these last few meters. I assumed they'd emotional - and they certainly are but to be honest my thoughts at this moment mostly revolve around the rain, which is closing in really fast. Will I make it there before the rain?
No... About 1 kilometer from Stirling Point, I have just re-attached my rain cover, it starts pouring down and it is obvious, it wont stop within the next couple of minutes. On the one hand I'm disapponted to finish in the rain, on the other hand, it makes the finish a bit more... how should I say... genuine, typical Te Araroa. I started in drizzle at Cape Reinga, I'll finish in rain at Stirling Point.
All these thoughts however vanish instantly, when the "famous" signpost comes into view. Filled with joy, I walk the final hundred meters of my adventure.
Rain drenched, I touch the pole, with my hands, with my head. I made it, I really made it! All the way from Cape Reinga down to Bluff!
Even though I can't get more soaked, I don't stick around too long and try to find a shelter to wait for the rain to ease. A small canopy in front of a public is the only sheltered place I'm able to find. Well, it might not be a very worthy end of my hike, but I don't care. I'm just happy to be here at Bluff.
Some drunken, funny Kiwis (obviously not the birds ;), who are attending a stag party join me and offer me a beer. I gladly accept and so together we stand here under the way too small roof, celebrating.
Never thought I'd finish my hike this way. Te Araoa - expect the unexpected ;)
A few minutes later, the rain stops and the clouds disappear. Time to head back to the signpost to finally take some descent photos and ring Karyn and Willie. We agreed on the Mavora Walkway to call when we arrive in Bluff to cheer for each other. Really nice to hear their voices, especially as there are no other Te Araroans around. They will stand at this exact time in 5 days. Happy final trail days!
It's actually only on the way into town, when I slowly begin realize what I've just achieved...
3000 kilometers from the northernmost to the southernmost point of New Zealand. Walking basically every step.
Jusy a few kilometers on the water and the hitches around the three hazard zones. 128 days, thereof around 114 days on the track.
So what next?
My flight back to Zurich is in May, which leaves me a bit more than 3 months to further explore this amazing country. During my hike I received heaps of tips from hikers on the trail as well as from people following my blog what I could do after Te Araroa. Beside checking out a few of these places and hikes, I'm planning on visiting friends that I made while hiking Te Araroa. Now without the urge to continue a hike.
For the next few days however, the plan is simply to relax. With the forecast to be good for the upcoming days (now that I finished Te Araroa...hahaha ;), I'll find a nice beach, pitch my tent and do... not much.
Within the next couple of days, when the emotions have settled down, I'll post a résumé as well. So stay tuned!