Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura

Up to Hanmer Springs for two days of luxurious soaking in the thermal pools and chatting up bad ass thru-trampers of the Te Araroa, New Zealand’s long distance trail. The thermal pool complex is like an amusement park for adults–more than a dozen pools of varying temperature and ambiance, with a separate area for kids. We favored the hot, unfiltered pools, and stayed in until we felt like stewed fruit. It was all we could do to go back to the campsite before we zonked out. The Te Araroa trampers invited us to a evening feed where we swapped stories and Pat and I got an inside scoop on this new long distance trail. It sounds awesome but tough. My sights are still set on the PCT.

Once we were totally waterlogged, we hitched up to Kaikoura with in one swift ride with a Czech river guide. The heat was depleting, so we decided to stay the night and walk the peninsula in the morning. We stayed above a noisy bar but still managed a few hours of sleep. The Kaikoura Peninsula Walk was awesome. It’s not very challenging and only a few hours long, and the views over a turbulent ocean teeming with life were hugely rewarding. We saw more sunbathing seals, watched some weather blow over the mountains just north of Kaikoura, and the sea breeze nearly blew us off the cliffs.

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The afternoon passed quickly as we lazed about on the pebbly beach, watching Dusky dolphins play in the water. Paradise, huh? Then we shouldered our packs and walked to the main road to hitch out. Just as we picked a place, a yellow ute pulled over and offered to take us all the way to Woodend. He navigated a nasty hailstorm and gave us a paua when he dropped us off.

We spent the ensuing days at the bach, recharging for the next month and a half of travel. Eating good food, hanging out at the beach, playing cards, reading–total vacation mode. We got to do some work for John and Joanne, a small way to express our gratitude or their generosity and kindness. And now we set out for Mackenzie Country.

John and Joanne–thank you so much for your tremendous hospitality! We wish you all the best.

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