Dec 5 day 96 Twizel to Lake Middleton Campground 8:15-3:15 29 km
Following my rule not to eat out of my backpack when a restaurant is available, I wandered around Twizel a bit before getting the big breakfast at the Hydro Cafe, so-named because this whole network of lakes and canals in this area is a massive hydro project, with Twizel right in the middle of it. Twizel itself is a strange town. I’d like to learn the history. There are a number of buildings that are older (not old) including the High Country Motel and Backpackers where I stayed, along with the Top Hut Sports Bar immediately adjacent, but the entire downtown looks as if it was designed and built just a couple of years ago (along with the inexplicable presence of two 4 Square grocery stores within a block of each other). It all has a recently designed feel to it, and one that does not follow the typical New Zealand small town which inevitably is made of two streets crossing perpendicularly and lined with a bank of storefronts. Twizel’s business district faces a square with a playground. After breakfast I headed out for another day of road/bicycle path walking, going first to the dam across the base of Lake Ruataniwha– a man-made lake that is part of the hydro system and also the site of rowing competitions. I saw several boats out practicing in a strong headwind as I walked up the shoreline, but first I stopped at the salmon farm, not to feed the fish which apparently is a big tourist draw, but to get a last cup of coffee before heading off into the bush for 4-5 days. The day’s walk was uneventful, first following shore of Lake Ruataniwha, then the Ohau River, and finally the Lake Ohau, arriving mid-afternoon at a DoC campsite with few amenities, a high site price, and a lot of sand flies. Still, I had hiked nearly 30 km and thought calling the day early was a wise choice. Had a great conversation with an enthusiastic fly fisherman named Frank, cooked dinner, and dove into my tent just ahead of the sand flies.