This section was short, but very special. I broke it up over two and a bit days, simply because I set my daily limit to 30km for the sake of my feet.
The walking was made easy, with cycle trail track and road all the way. On Wednesday the 12th I left Twizel at 11am, following beautiful cycle trail through the Pukaki Flats. Fact: being immersed in kilometres of knee-height, golden grass with views of mountain ranges in every direction is a sweet way to start any day. After that scenery, I continued along the cycle trail around Lake Pukaki with views of the Mt. Cook National Park. Unfortunately, it wasn't clear around the mountains, with clouds blocking out views of Mt. Cook itself. Despite that, the landscape was exhilarating, with clouds forming around the mountains in ways that are difficult to describe. The rest of the day followed a gravel road until I found a place to camp at the end of a 4WD track amongst a pine forest right on the lake edge.
Again, a stunning and fast-paced walk followed the road along the lake for 15km, with another 15km on Braemar Road. Not that I would encourage everyone flock there and drive on it (because people like myself are walking on it), but for 22km, Braemer is a stunning road all the way, and extremely peaceful. So if I was ever driving between Lake Tekapo and Twizel, I know I wouldn't being taking the SH8...
I stayed in an unnamed hut that was right by the road side which seemed to breathe Irish heritage. I think if someone put a broom in it and gave it a name it'd be a pretty rad hut. Some rain last night proved the hut was in tip-top shape and not at all leaky.
I came across an odd SOBO TA hiker this morning. I didn't get his name, but he was clean shaven, had a cigarette in his mouth and wore new-looking sneakers... not exactly the image that comes to mind when I think of someone that's walked over 2000km. I made it into Lake Tekapo by 11am.
I decided to take the opportunity to check out Mt. Cook and the glaciers by doing a scenic flight. When I called about getting on a flight for the next day, they told me the weather wasn't looking so good, and that instead, I should do one today. Within 4 minutes of hanging up, there was someone at the hostel to pick me up and get me on a flight that was leaving just 15 minutes later. The flight was very cool. Mt. Cook is a beautiful giant.
I've taken a rest day to get myself sorted for the next few sections. I spent most of today hitch-hiking to Timaru and back to buy a portable hard-drive. A huge thanks to Taylor the Canadian (who was still learning how to drive a manual on the 'wrong' side of the road) in an unfamiliar place, for getting me more than half the way there and half the way back. Fun times.
Thank you to the hostel staff at the Lake Tekapo YHA for being so friendly and helpful.
Unfortunately I'm going to have to wait until I get to Nelson to get access to a computer where I'm able to upload the ridiculous amount of photo's I'm taking, so, apologies for that. I'm looking forward to sharing the next section with anyone who reads this, and I cannot express how much I'm looking forward to climbing that mountain tomorrow... seriously.