jen yu: new zealand 2007 - day 10

new zealand 2007 - day 10

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rakiura track
march 27, 2007
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In the morning, my cold was nearly in full swing. I popped a few decongestants and we started out of the motel room door at 7 am. The Rakiura Track is typically a 3-day Great Walk that totals 36 km, but because we were short on time, we did it as a day hike (our route was 34 km since we did not hike to Port William Hut). From Half Moon Bay it is about 4 km to the trailhead on sealed roads that climb and descend the hilly terrain of the island. The official trailhead is at picturesque Lee Bay. From here, the track led us into the dense forest that bordered the shoreline. The skies were overcast and the air felt damp and cool. Of course, no hike in New Zealand would be complete without its fair share of deep, sticky, mud slogging. We encountered this within a few kilometers of the trailhead on a high tide alternate route.

The trail traversed Maori Beach and then crossed a stream on a suspension bridge. The suspension bridges (there are three in total) were built of metal fencing and had a tendency to roll sideways unless you walked carefully with one foot in front of the other. I didn't care for those too much. Beyond the bridge, we passed the turnoff to the Port William Hut. We noticed that the track was occasionally constructed of woodbox steps and then wooden boardwalks covered in chicken wire (so you don't slip as everything here is wet). Before long, the entire track consisted of boardwalk. At first we thought this was extravagant. After several kilometers, sections of track didn't have boardwalk, but instead were enormous pits of mud and roots. That's when we began to realize the boardwalk was more of a necessity.

The track followed the terrain which rolls up and down over hills and into gullies. I think we maintained a pretty constant average elevation, but there was a lot of climbing and descending involved. Eventually, we arrived at the high point of the track (a 300 meter climb) where a lookout tower stands on a small ledge. We saw nothing but white fog. This was past the halfway point, so we sat down to quickly eat our lunch at 12:20 while fantails and other small birds flitted about us without fear. We hit the trail again because it is desirable to hike out before dark.

The temperate rain forest is stunning to look at and travel through, although after a good 25 kilometers, you sort of get the picture. Upon our arrival at North Arm Hut, I went to make use of the pit toilets while Jeremy met 3 hunters taking a break at the hut. These gentlemen were the first people we had seen all day. They were kiwis, very polite and friendly, and hunting deer. We parted ways and it was another 3.5 hours before we reached the trailhead. Our feet were pretty sore and we hobbled down the unsealed road for another 3 kilometers to drop off our "we did not perish" slip with the DOC office and then to our motel at 6 pm. I felt sick.

My friend Fiona classifies fun into two categories: fun #1 and fun #2. Fun #1 requires little effort and could be labeled fun by anyone. Fun #2 is the sort of endeavor that doesn't feel terribly fun during the activity, but takes on the memory of fun after it is over. I am still wondering if the hike was fun #2 or just not fun at all.

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