Nov 29 day 90 Manuka Hut to Geraldine 6:30-11:00 15 km + hitched ride to town
The Manuka hut filled up with previous occupants and a very nice Christchurch bicycling family (with two very young children including a boy named Mikey), so I tented outside in the wind which thankfully calmed later in the night. Jan also arrived and he too tented. I left before everyone else got up, and headed down an easy 4 wheel drive track, except for a short climb over a saddle, which led to the Hakatere road. Once again, the need to circumvent the river instead of proceeding to the old point where the trail forded it created a dilemma– hiking an extra 10 km to a point on the road to turn back and hitch to town or just hitching from the road there. A farmer who offered me a ride to Mount Somers Village made that decision easy. From there I luckily caught another ride to Geraldine, the town the TA people recommend as a way to get back up to the other side of the Rangitata River at Mesopotamia which incidentally is where Samuel Butler, the author of Erewhon once lived. Got to Geraldine, a nice small town, resupplied and opted for a motel room–just a little luxury after a difficult couple of days. Classic 1950s motel, the couple who run it are so nice (even took me on a tour of the newer rooms)–just perfect.