I'm going to start this post off with an apology of sorts.
We've just spent the past four weeks walking from Arthur's Pass to Ship Cove.
This is Te Araroa's most isolated stretch. It travels through about a third of the length of the South Island. Not only does it not pass through many towns, but most of the towns it does pass through are probably best described as villages...or specks on a map.
Such places tend not to have Internet cafés or helpful friends with computers. Therefore as you read this post we have probably finished our South Island adventure.
Whiona is probably back at work and I am probably sitting at home...at my computer...uploading a massive backlog of stories and photos to the Whiowhio website.
One of my cats is probably on my knee...and the other one is probably in the bathroom knocking things off the cabinet so that they smash on the tiled floor. An action that's designed to get my attention.
I'll be swearing...but I'll feed them both...and return to the job at hand...your "entertainment".
So...sorry it's taken so long...but don't worry...one day they'll invent a cellphone that can blog and Facebook via satellite...this invention will, unfortunately, mark the end of wilderness as we know it.
So perhaps I'm not sorry after all...
But...back to today's walk.
It was our first day back on the track after an eight day break for a kind of family reunion. It was a break that's been both great and a bit stressful. Stressful because we are now behind schedule. Great...because food, friends and family are great.
We left Otamatata at eight this morning and were driven several hundred kilometres back to Arthur's Pass where we had one last flat-white before one of the biggest tramps (28 days if all goes well) we've ever done.
My arse...which over the past couple of months has become a vital part of a finely tuned walking and climbing apparatus...spent the last hours of the ride in absolute agony. Gluteus Maximus muscles that should have been pushing me up mountain passes were instead trapped in the front seat of a very cramped Mazda. They were not happy. I was not happy.
"Do some pelvic floor exercises", Whiona suggested helpfully.
Nah. No good.
When we finally got to the start of the track it was with some serious relief that I strapped my fifteen kilo pack on and started the long walk up a river valley.
We were on the trail again.
It was four thirty and we were at last walking up the Taramakau River towards Kiwi Hut.
We had made it, all be it briefly, to the West Coast and were heading towards Harper's Pass. Boyle Village on the the Lewis Pass Road was the eventual goal - four days away.
As we left the road we made our way eastwards up the valley through sometimes thick gorse on a pretty straightforward river flat. Occasionally we had to avoid the deep and fast river by making our way through rough bush track beside a heavily eroding gravel bank, but the going was good. It was a gentle reintroduction to the trail.
We disturbed what we think was a lone Whio. It wasn't a Shag...or a Mallard...or a Paradise Duck...I'm open to suggestions for an alternative, but am also happy to believe it was our first Whio of the trip.
The sun slowly set behind us.
A helicopter buzzed over us a couple of times. We'd seen it earlier in the day dropping a Norski toilet off at a DoC campsite near Arthur's Pass...perhaps some work was being done at Kiwi Hut.
"Perhaps we'd have company tonight", we wondered as we sloshed on, our boots full of water.
But no. As we arrived at the hut it was obvious we were alone.
Except for the birds.
Kea. Fantails. Robins.
As it went dark the noises started. Something's been croaking outside for an hour now...frogs? And something loud and large called out. Our first Kiwi? Or a Weka?
Then of course the magic was spoiled by a possum.
As I write this the outside noise is incessant.
It's good to be back in the bush.