Dec 23 day 114 Colec Bay Campground to Invercargill 6:15-4:00 45 km
What to say? 45 km is a long day, but most on the beach which goes fast and I hitched the last 5 (it was just a road walk and I have seen roads before). The first stretch was interesting and not easy. Colec Beach is made of small pea gravel–soft and moves under foot–so it makes a difficult surface to walk. Then there was a lot of cliff up and down with a fair share of gorse. Stopped at Riverton for second breakfast, thinking perhaps of calling it a day, splitting up the penultimate stretch, but there was not much attraction there so I pressed on. One issue was a stream crossing that the guidebooks said not to attempt at high tide. As luck would have it, I was hitting that point at precisely high tide, so I had to improvise by catching some private farm roads up and around the stream head. It was a nice reprise of my many pasture walks, and included one stretch where hundreds of sheep were packed into a holding pen I needed to cross. There were a number of dairy cattle and of course your standard pasture full of steers. They are the most troubling as the steers always look at you expectantly, as if you are bringing them something, and they follow along as you pass, looking plaintive. And of course their destiny is hamburger. After clearing the main stream I still had to ford a waist deep flow, leading out onto the Invercargill beach made famous by Anthony Hopkins’s motorcycle run in “The World’s Fastest Indian.” Made good time on a firm flat surface, then walked the road a bit when a kiwi named John picked me up. He was only going a short distance, but in typical kiwi fashion he kindly took me all the way into Invercargill. I have felt a twinge of guilt when taking a hitch at the end of a long day, but inevitably I meet someone well worth meeting and realize that’s what the trip is all about. To try to “white blaze” the TA is to miss out on some of the more interesting people NZ has to offer. Got a room at the Tuatara Backpackers and had a glass or two at the Zookeepers Cafe, the only place that serves Invercargill Brewery beer on tap–good!