The full moon was setting over the snowcapped mountains when our hiking day began. The extreme wind of days earlier gave way to a pleasant calm. The birds of prey were circling and diving on unknown animals while calling in their high pitched screech. The water birds were patrolling the ponds and lakes. The distant irrigated paddocks were crowded with sheep. A typical New Zealand morning on the Te Araroa trail.
I hiked with Jean for the day. The trail followed a series of jeep trails through farms and public land. Trees are not so common in this part of New Zealand and the views of the mountains had our constant attention. Our discussions mostly centered on hiking gear and hiking trails. A favorite subject for us both. After so many years and so many trails and bicycle tours most of my gear is getting to the stage that it needs to be replaced. It has served me well. Only 3-4 weeks longer and it can rest or be put to pasture.
The Rangitata River is river valley almost 10km wide. The glacial melt water turns into a wide braided web of silty channels that is difficult for most hikers to cross. Recent rains had put the river into a minor flood so any chance of crossing on food was not possible. For Lord of the Rings fans this river valley was used many times in the movie. I think it was the place called the mountains of Rohan, or something similar. Strangely, I’ve read the books but haven’t seen all the movie. I shall have to remedy that.
Jean, Dylan and Martina had a shuttle booked to take them on the long road detour around the river. I hoped to hitch hike across the river on a helicopter but ended up joining them for the 2-3 hours of driving. This is a remote part of New Zealand.
As it was late in the day the shuttle dropped us at a campsite near the town of Geraldine. A surprise chance to stock up on a burger and milkshake before doing battle with the sandflies.