Yesterday I thought I had this blog sussed. I was only going to write one word..."Ugh".
If you've read our previous blogs you will already know that we haven't been looking forward to the walk from Bluff to Invercargill.
Well, it was as awful as we had predicted - but with enough good bits to make it bearable.
Bluff to Invercargill is not a trail. It is 22km walk in the "gutter". Bluff is a major port and massive trucks roar down SH1 back and forth all day.
If you're walking Te Araroa from the north and don't want to spend your last day doing this stretch...don't feel bad, but do make the effort to walk around Signal Point - it's beautiful. We have heard heaps of walkers are just walking to Trail End through Bluff township and avoiding the Point just to get the thing over and done with. A real pity.
The weirdest thing about this end of the Trail is the complete lack of Te Araroa signs. No TeA directions, no "WELLDONE!" No acknowledgement whatsoever. Odd. It must be kind of a let down for SOBOs...which is why we started there.
The day started early -- our Nice Guy (Trail Angel) picked us up from Invercargill and delivered us to where we had left off the night before. Yeah...we're spoiled.
But at last we actually felt like we were on our way. This was the last ride (hopefully) and a real luxury.
7.20am: As we left Bluff the sun broke through the thick cloud above Tiwai Point and its smokestack. I looked down on the ground and saw the dead Kingfisher. Beautiful. Sad. It was still warm. I moved it from the gravel and put it under a flax.
The walk around Bluff's bays is nice...except for the traffic. But we are soon confronted with more dead fishers.
The Lost At Sea Memorial is a tragic reminder of where last night's Blue Cod came from.
"The Codman of the south - 'What Oh She Bumps"
Doug died in 1970 aged 70.
"A true friend and a straight guy"
"The sea holds many Treasures and Pearls Beyond Compare But two dearest and most precious gifts are both GENTLY SLEEPING HERE"
On we walked. Trail Nice Guy three soon made his presence felt. As trucks and cars approached we moved off the tarseal and into the really uneven grass. Many of the truckies gave us a wave and we started recognising some of them. One guy from Southern Roading went past us seven or eight times. We got to know each other and he would obligingly move as far to the other side of the road as he could with a big grin and a wave.
Twenty two kilometres after we started it was time to leave the road. Woohoo!
Unfortunately we missed it by a kilometre. More invisible signs? Or were we too busy watching the potholes.
Anyway, just after Clifton we jumped a fence and made our way through gorse to the Lake Street walkway. Thank #@$&!
A shared bike/walking path that meanders through regenerating bush and grasses. No more trucks and cars. Just spoonbills, swans and herons.
But the best thing about the walkway was the sign we came across. They will be extending it all the way to Bluff. They are only about a 10th of the way there...but it's a start and TeA needs it.
Just as we finished the day's trek, we came across Cathy and her dog Cherokee, who was recovering from that rare Invercargill problem - heat stroke. She was the second friend of a friend we'd met in 24 hours. How small is New Zealand?
She used to live on Quarantine Island in Otago Harbour - doing conservation work with her community.
She says hi Carol and Jimmy.
Invercargill: We're stayiing in a fantastic serviced apartment. It's modern, clean, has a bathroom and kitchenette. 50 bucks a night! Cheaper than a backpackers. Wow!
We went to by a wine from the supermarket...until we remembered we couldn't...the local licensing trust restricts sales. Which is kind of cool because the money they earn (instead of the supermarkets) goes into great community assets like velodromes, stadiums and perhaps one day Te Araroa.
Walking to the bottle store meant that we found the lovely series of gardens along the river that wanders through town. No one was there so we got away with some stretches. Much needed after 26kms.
Tomorrow. Burt Munro's Oreti Beach. There won't be any land speed records tomorrow.
NOTE: Weebly is a great visual blogging platform -- but the mobile version is proving a bit tricky. So if there are any weird things going on with it I'll sort them when I get to a real computer.