Maxime and Marion, my two French friends that I haven’t seen since high school about 5 years ago, gave me meeting per email at a shelter on the side of the road 73 about 7km before Arthur Pass.I hitch-hiked all the way down from the lodge next to Picton, over Kaikura (where i had to spent one night) and to Christchurch where I left many of my stuffs in order to keep travelling a light as possible. By the way, I got an address there thanks to my Dutch friend Simon that is currently travelling in central America (one positive side of Facebook that makes these improbable things possible).
On Sunday, I finally reached the shelter where Maxime and Marion had been waiting for me to show up during 2 days!! 5PM. I don’t want to make them wait any longer, we decide to go ahead and start our Tramping week straight away. The plan is to go over Goat Pass, the Deception Valley, the Taramakau Valley, Harper Pass, Kiwi Pass and finally reach a road 25km away from Hamner Springs. 7 days into the deep Nature.
Majestic mountains (some Maori people says each one has a soul), huge Valleys, mystical forests. Amazing contrasts of lights, colours, land shape, and clouds movements. This is what New Zealand is about, and my expectations are “over-reached”.
A tough week tough. 7 (rainy) days without coffee, a proper bed or shower, meat*, fresh veggies or fruits, beers or wine, or any contact to the outside world. We walked up to 9 hours a day, constantly crossing rivers (=wet shoes all the time), and sometimes without any track just heading to one direction trough rocks or very dense bushes. This makes you think about the much underestimated daily comfort we are used to. When drinking a tea next to the firehood with a rationed piece of chocolate becomes the greatest moment of the day. Just being able to enjoy simplicity at its best.
I will moderate this last paragraph; by the fact that there are (most of the time) pretty comfy huts with firewood or stoves to get dry and spend the night; By this amazing story* about Maxime catching a wild Goose (Animals lovers: don’t worry, it had a broken wing and wouldn’t survive much longer anyway) that we prepared and grilled directly on the fire.; and by some natural hot pools on the way that allowed us to have a break and wash with hot water.
We finally reached the road on Sunday and hitch hiked 25km to Hanmer Springs on the hurry to find some well deserved fish&chips and beers. This cute little town surrounded by mountains has hot water springs where we spent a very relaxing resting day.