Dec 15 day 106 Greenstone Road to Taipo Hut 10:30-4:45 24 km
Got transportation to the trail head (which is across the lake from Queenstown and so is a long van ride around). I was the only passenger, so Mr. Buckley explained the transformation of Queenstown in the 50 years he has lived here. A couple of key events changed a small, generally empty lakefront town to the high adventure attraction it has become–mostly happening in the 70s. Air travel costs dropped considerably in that decade, and Queenstown, unlike some of other, similar towns has a good airport. Then they built a bridge over the Dart river at the top of the lake which opened great walks in the fjord lands to access from Queenstown. So now the place is wall-to-wall high adventure booking stations, dozens of restaurants, hotels, hostels, and bars. We stopped for coffee at the Kinloch Lodge, an old restored place on the western side of the river/lake– very pleasant sitting on the restaurant deck looking out over the lake before heading on back to the trail. I had seen Jan in town, and we both got to the trailhead at more or less the same time. There were a number of other hikers, but they were day or short loop hikers, and soon it was just me and Jan. The first half (Greenstone Trail) was incredibly well made– a veritable sidewalk–and the second half, the Malvora Walkway was a poorly marked marsh hike. I kept worrying I would lose my shoes in the muck, but they held on. I stayed at Taipo Hut (adequate but not interesting, in the bend of a river and a cow pasture). It did have a rotating gate made from an old wooden wagon wheel that reminded me of George Sturt. Jan continued on to Boundary Hut (another 12 km). Might not see him again as he is carrying a lot of food and pushing hard to the end. I’ll need to resupply at least once before Riverton, so it looks as though in a couple of days, I’ll try to hitch to Te Anau from route 94. I want to be sure to enjoy this last part, so I don’t want to get too caught up in a race to the finish, but I am ready to get to Bluff–fewer than 300 km now.