Nov 4 day 65 Wellington Harbor to Island Bay 12 km 1:00-3:00
The Te Araroa ends on the North Island at a stone in Shortland Park at Island Bay, just south of Wellington. Not a long walk from the city, nor is it particularly difficult, though they manage to take you along trails that feel as if you are in the bush. The end is a landmark, a stone with a plaque. It is the symbolic halfway point (though the real one is long since past), the 1700 km marker (1300 yet to go). There are some days when the trail gods smile on you, and today I only have myself to blame for any discomfort. There have been few days where it has been impossible to hike– the one up in a hut on the Tararua range was one, Tongiriro Pass another, and this morning was yet another. Not only were the winds continuing at gale force, but the rains were heavy as well. I woke realizing I did not even have to go out in it if I didn’t want to. Bundling up, I made my way first to a cafe for breakfast — Joes Garage, a chain but very good. Then I went to some outdoor stores to pick up South Island gear — warmer, waterproof gloves, more isobutane, and another stuff bag for additional food storage space. Also got mail boxes for food drops and went to grocery getting a lot of food to pack into said boxes. The South Island requires much planning. At 1:00 the wind and rain seemed to be diminishing, so I decided to chance making the last bit of the trek in hopes that tomorrow could be a true and fairly relaxing zero day. In retrospect, maybe a mistake, but tomorrow is now free. Started out along Oriental Bay, a walk I’ve done many times, then turned to climb Mt Victoria, a novelty for me. The rain then decided to pick up, as did the wind when I got to the western slope. Still I slogged on, making one wrong turn that required some suburban navigation to get to Island Bay (which was quite interesting, seeing those neighborhoods). Toward the end, the wind picked up even more and the rain took on some sharpness. Was happy to cross Shortland Park, touch the rock, and turn to see the #1 bus waiting to take me back to center city. The rest of the day was spent doing traditional long-distance hiking housekeeping: laundry, iPad updating, food sorting and packing. Then a trip back to Little Beer Quarter for pints and a good dinner. People watching there was fun as a lot of the population seemed to be professors from Victoria. Really looking forward to January back here teaching.