Despite all of us heading to the same place tonight we were almost all in different hostels or even towns in the morning so rather than try to coordinate any morning meet up we just said we’d see each other at camp and whoever gets there first check us in.
Chris was already in Frankton so we were pretty sure he was going to get there first. I was the first out of Queenstown, so I also made it to the Countdown grocery store first. On the way there there was a fairly decent little track along the lake and a detour that required some road walking. When looking at the water from the road I was thinking I would probably have enjoyed it more if I’d taken the water taxi to Frankton, seems like it would have been real pretty. Sure I’d be skipping some of the walking but whatever, I’m way more after enjoyment than walking every step.
I still did get to see some real nice views though along the way.
Once I got to Countdown I grabbed a cart, unloaded my pack and took inventory of my food. I really only needed one dinner and some lunch stuff so that’s what I headed in to get. I mostly succeeded. I have more food than I need I think but it’s fine. It’s a manageable amount, and still less than what I’ll need in Richmond.
After that I rolled into the little cafe in the same complex and got some coffee and lunch and made use of the WiFi to look up any information I could find about our alternative route for tomorrow. Sadly, there’s very little other than a line on our topo maps, and we have no idea what the river conditions are like after yesterday’s massive rain. Rumors of people getting escorted out of huts or stranded places due to high rivers abound, but at the campground we met some southbounders who came from tomorrow’s destination so we know at least the “official” route is doable. While at the cafe I saw Frank arrive and waved him over to say I was grabbing lunch and coffee if he wanted to join. He went grocery shopping and came back in a bit. Meanwhile, Marius walked up and did the same thing. Frank came back, grabbed some lunch and chatted, Marius came back but had gotten some takeaway from the store so went on to eat it. Then Keaton and Gian-Marco showed up. Suddenly there were backpacks all over this corner of the cafe and we were talking a lot about the coming days. Eventually Frank and I left and headed on down the trail. I think I was at the cafe for about 2 hours, oops.
From here the official route diverts about 500m to cross a pedestrian bridge. Frank wanted to take the highway bridge. So we did. With barely enough shoulder for our feet we crossed a very busy 2 lane highway bridge. Eek. Fortunately only one big truck who slowed way down for us and one van with a trailer who was able to slide over and give us some room and we were across. Pretty sketch.
More walking then we got to Lake Hayes. The official trail goes up the west side but we took the east side. In large part to cut off some boring residential walking but also because the bus from Queenstown to Arrowtown runs along most of the route we’d be on, so we figured we could just take that if we wanted. Sadly, it doesn’t actually stop through that area so we had to walk it. Oh well.
Finally we arrive at the holiday park and find out what we’re spending $104NZD on. It ain’t much.
The campground charges per person for a campsite with a minimum of 2 people and a max of 6. 6 people makes $104 total. It’s … kinda terrible. But we at least get coin operated showers and actually a fairly reasonable kitchen. And it’s still cheaper than anything else in town I’m sure, so it could be worse.
It’s chilly here. We have potentially a lot of river crossings tomorrow. High of 62F. Or maybe some huge hills. Depends on river conditions really, which I’m honestly skeptical of. But we’ll get there.
Oh! And I officially know how to set up my tent properly finally. First try tonight! The ground was so hard I bent 2 of my stakes so that’s a thing, but at least the tent is set up properly! Time to go over and get comfy. 6am wake up tomorrow, and a long and potentially rather wet and cold day tomorrow.
Oh and I found some bars at four square (grocery store) which are 75g and 1450kJ (about 400 calories) which is huge. They look pretty tasty too. There may be a lot of these in my Richmond food drop!
And yes I am writing this while sitting next to the power strip charging my phone. Why so close? Because I have TINY usb cables.
They are way easier to manage than big long cables and work just fine. And they save grams too! More room for food!