Nearly four months ago I set foot on NZ’s northern coastline. As I stood above the sway of the ocean and beside the lighthouse of Cape Reinga, I was staring out into a vast open sea and onto a future that was unknown. What would the Te Araroa, and more importantly the country of New Zealand be like? Would the hiking be hard or easy? Would I meet alot of hikers or experience days of solitude? Would I find myself lost in the density and darkness of NZ’s bush? How would I manage without the comfort and accessability of having my friends and family just a phone call away? Would I regret not taking a personal locator beacon? An ipod to distract myself from the everyday beat of the trail and the emotional wave that would entail? Would the NZ sun be as harsh as they said? Would the sandflies be as notorious as they claimed?
All these questions would be answered and in time, when I return to Oregon and the comforts of unlimited use of my computer, with maps and notes spread out across the table, floor and any available space, I will write more.
But now, after months winding my way further south, I have reached the southern terminus of the Te Araroa. Overall I reason I’ve hiked 2,700 kilometers. It was a bewildering feeling to reach the signpost, as my body was still eager to go on, to explore more, but also because I was not a purist in the end, and not hiking every footstep didn’t reward me with the feeling of triumph that I’ve experienced before. Regardless, it feel good to walk along the oceans edge the last few miles and to reach the terminus with Dylan and that crazy-cool group of Americans I mentioned before. We all celebrated like mad, champagne and Tui beers. Then a night of lounging around, swapping stories and sharing plans of the future.
By morning, we all split off onto our next adventures. Dylan b-lined in to Nelson, to retrieve his climbing gear and to pursue limestone boulders and incredible climbs. I will miss his company, but I’m equally excited for the next stage of the adventure. I’ve enjoyed hiking with him and his passion of life. Meanwhile JARB (Jeb, Amy, Britt and Robbie) split up to head off towards flights home, adventures in Milford and Mount cook or other highlights of NZ. It was a nice parting, not bittersweet or sad as I’m sure I will see them all some day in Bend.
I ended up catching a lift with a trio from Czech. I was so lucky as they were touring the southern coastline, including Cathedral Cave, Nugget Point and Curio Bay. They drove me to Dunedin that evening and after stealth camping in….the Botanical Garden…. I got two very quick and awesome rides up to Christchurch. And now, in a hour’s time, I will be on the road for 2 weeks with my friend Annélie, whom I befriended on the Northern Circuit around Mt Ngarahoe. Two girls in a car, destined for Castle Hill (highly recommended by Dylan and his passion of climbing), Avalanche Peak, the Pancake Rocks of the West Coast, a stay at a hostel on the beach and eventually, when and where the weather is sunshine and good, up towards Abel Tasman.
That said, my flight back to Bend is May 6th. I decided to return to Bend, to return to a place that has become home. More on that later. The sun is shining and Annélie waiting, so off I go!
I will post some pictures soon.