Painful shoulders and feet, we left the morning at 9.00 for a roadwalk leg that wouldn't be too hard, end up by taking a bus in Havelock to Nelson to do some resupplying for the next days (the Richmond Ranges).
Bye bye, Anakiwa!
Yesterdays blue skies had turned into overcast; cloudy but not cold and rain wasn't too far away by the looks of it.
Because I am from the rather flat Netherlands and have some experience in walking paved roads, I thought this day would be "easy peasy", although some blisters and the straining backpack still caused massive aches when putting on or off, walking wasn't that bad at all.
The small road took us to the main road from Picton to Havelock (Queen Charlotte Drive). When we reached that it was just a straight line as far you could look, walking on sort of trail next to the big road when possible. Walking on a 100km/h road isn't pleasant, not that there was much traffic but sometimes big trucks pass by and such, just being cautious is required.
After some kilometers we passed this sign that I saw before on a blog of the Te Araroa, funny to see it in person!
After an hour or so we came to a gas station which I was really happy to see, not for gasoline but for fresh coffee! and a refill of my cigarette addiction that had been reduced to hand rolled tobacco.
Well, onwards and upwards after that. We reached the end of the Mahakipawa Arm waterline, now the road kept on the eastside of that curving around the water as a proper coastal road. Next to nice scenery we we're just enjoying chatting to eachother, making jokes and moving on.
In the distance we could see a bit of a hill dooming up. It looked like a trail was passing it next to powerlines. Alan had read the route's notes pretty good as usual and told us the trail we saw probably was the trail we had to climb to 'shortcut' the hill. The road would completely run around it, following the water and the trail would lead us pretty straight forward to Havelock.
It started to rain a bit so we prepared the packs with the covers to not get drained, but about 5 minutes later rain stopped again and... well, you know.
As we came at the foot of the hill, we left the road and took what looked like the trail upwards. As we continued we came at a junction, the current trail (grassy and not too wide) turned slightly left and kept going upwards. The trail to the right looked newly made, less steep and it would make sense to take a look at the maps at least to see which one we should take. I tried the GPS unit I was carrying and tried to convince first myself and then Alan & Shai to take the newer trail. We did so but after 5 mins we went off towards the water too much, so we decided to head back and take the old uphill trail...
Back on the older trail the uncut grass kept getting wilder and you had to struggle a bit to get through. After a while it made a few corners and then it went practically straight up the hill. No zigzag or winding, just ... straight... up! This was like the steepest trail possible for me and my backpack...
I was walking nicely in front but got so completely destroyed all of a sudden. It didn't take long before Alan was out of sight and I was losing sight of Shai as well! As I cursed and kept moving very slowly it started to rain a bit too, so out came the rain-covers again.
Finally I joined Alan and Shai on top. This was some nasty trail! The view was alright but a bit polluted by the powerline works. As we looked at the schedule (we planned to get a bus in Havelock) we could make a bus at 14:05 if we'd hurry up. So after a couple of good sips of water we continued.
The trail down was as nasty as up, although we could look at Havelock all the time, we kind of rushed down the trail, all the way to Havelock, while watching any sign for a bus passing through Havelock. At some point we were convinced we were not going to make the 14:05 but near the bottom we got hope again... (and practically started running towards and rushing through Havelock).
Of course no busstop to be found, no bus, nor people that were waiting, so as we passed the i-Site on the main road I rushed in and while excusing myself, interrupting a clerk asking for directions to the busstop and if it was still going to arrive. It would and no problem !
Thanks... rushing back outside and rushed to the busstop with Shai & Alan. After waiting a bit a girl came waiting at the busstop and Alan asked about the bus' schedule and tickets etc. As NZ busses are booked completely digital these days, it's online ticketservice, we got pointed out that it might not be possible to just buy a ticket as you get in, you have to reserve it online and ...
So back to the i-Site again to ask about that, asking Shai & Alan to hold up the bus if I would take too long. Probably it was not a problem, the clerk said so I head back.
The bus was way too late (which was a good thing for us) and we did get a discount ticket to Nelson!
Enjoying the scenery, noting passing 'Pelorus Bridge', where we would have to walk to from Havelock the next leg, and after that the quite curvy up & down road from Pelorus Bridge to Nelson.
Once in Nelson we went to the hostel (YHA), tried to reserve a room and we were lucky to have a room for 3 people. The original plan was to do all the shopping/resupplying today, finish up in the morning and take the bus back to Havelock the next day early in the afternoon, to do the half day roadwalk from Havelock to Pelorus Bridge, camp there and continue the day after.
In the evening though Shai developed some serious doubts about his knee problems which got worse and worse since the Havelock descent. Looked like we might not get everything organised the next morning.
As Alan had to fit the whole South Island into the 10 weeks (?) he had, and you never know what's going to delay you further on, he was quite stressed and a bit disappointed to have to 'lose' a day. For me it was a good time to rest up and since the weather was quite bad now I wasn't that much in a hurry to return to the trail just yet.