Day 136 (14.3.16) - Bluff!
We woke at about 06:30 and had mostly slept really well. The door did have an alarm that went off every time someone went out for a pee, but that was a small matter.
The foul kitchen was at least empty at this time in the morning. Rune was not up there and we thought that he may have already left, or that he'd be pacing and smoking somewhere outside. But ten minutes later a slightly harassed looking BigBear appeared, he'd slept in! We had a leisurely meal and then wandered down to meet Mick (he was staying in a nice hotel with his wife who'd come to meet him for the end)! We were still carrying packs, but all they contained was food, water and booze! Much lighter for us, but probably about the same for POD and Disco!
We had soon left the town and starting walking along a great path through some salty, swampy flatlands. We walked in a loose group and spent time chatting and in easy silence again. There was a bridge that had been cordoned off as dangerous due to storm damage but we'd heard that it was fine from hikers who had just finished.
We had a mini pee break and Mat was in awe of POD's standing pee stance. I am not sure how he'd missed it to this point, but he was definitely impressed. Tom and Rune had seen it before, so just shrugged and peed as normal. I wish I'd taken a picture of the line up though, three hairy men in shorts, one less hairy lady in a hiking skirt and 4 jets of pee. But it was probably for the best that I couldn't get the camera out in time.
We stopped to reform at an old railway line in the industrial area just before joining the road. We had a lot of good snacks to share around and I couldn't help feeling happy and lucky to be part of such a great group of people.
Rune was restless and none of us were particularly looking forward to the road section. We opted for music and set off, walking into the traffic. The verge was reasonable and the road was actually quiet, I'm glad we were walking it on a Sunday as we'd heard it could be rubbish when it was busy.
Lots of people waved at us and at one point we spotted a small van with a bike in the back and a man who waved very enthusiastically. We assumed this was Rune's bike (he was cycling back from Bluff for the first part of his 'WABI' a 'WAlk BIke' back to Cape Reinga). He tried not to look too concerned when the same man passed us about an hour later coming the opposite way, still with the bike in the back!
We found a side road and had a break after we'd done about 10km of the road. We'd spread out a bit and Rune decided he didn't want to wait for the others and just wanted to crack on. Mat and I had decided that we wanted to finish as a group as we'd become pretty fond of the others and we weren't fussed about waiting for a bit!
After a while, we set off again. I was basically jogging to keep up with Matty as he didn't have the 4.5kg tent or any of the other rubbish to slow him down!
We got to the Bluff sign post where you turn off the road for the final bit and who should we see but a great hulking Dane!! He said he'd changed his mind and wanted to be with us and that he'd just wanted to get the road out of the way, but we think he also wanted his official camera man back! We lounged on the sign eating more and relaxing. We were glad the road was over, feet still not loving the relentless pounding of tarmac. The others joined us before too long and we took some more photos. Mick's wife also turned up in her car and it was great to meet her! Moonboy also turned up (he'd finished a few days before).
We set off again in an untidy group and enjoyed the path and hills. It was overcast but not chilly and it was good to be finishing on a track. We stopped just before the final corner and walked the final stretch together!
Rune couldn't wait to get a finish photo, so barged past a family who were posing for a shot and waited grinning at the sign! Mick's wonderful wife had bought a crate of beer and we all toasted each other and Te Araroa. After another six hours or so of taking photos, we realised it was probably time to hitch back to Invercargil for showers and celebrations!