Dec 11 day 102 Wanaka to Highland Creek Hut 8:30-6:00 30 km
Really did not want to leave Wanaka– my new favorite town in NZ. Lingered over coffee in the hostel which incidentally was called the YHA Purple Cow hostel. I asked if the name had anything to do with Williams College, but nobody knew. Then picked up a pie from the bakery near the waterfront, and finally, reluctantly, recommenced my trek, only to stop after about 3 km because the Edgewater hotel had a coffee sign out on the lakeside path. Couldn’t resist hanging out just a little longer. The first half of the day’s walk was along the lakeside to Glendu Bay, where there is a nice campground (got ice cream to go with my lunch) and a nearby organic farm. The trail went up through it so I could see some of the operation including those portable chicken coops they move around the pasture behind the cattle. After a bit the creek valley narrowed, took an abrupt turn from a seemingly impenetrable wall, and led up through a beech forest a while before breaking out into the alpine terrain that defines this section. Met an Austrian man named Daniel who is also hiking this stretch– we ended up passing each other all afternoon and then at the same hut, which took a long day’s walk to attain. The huts are all recent, clean and beautiful– part of this new Motatapu Track which was apparently funded by foreign investment (I’m not sure how a walking track can be a good monetary investment). The first day hiking after a rest day is always exhausting, not sure why, but it is definitely early to bed tonight.