So it begins. All the preparation and build-up and changing of plans has led to this day. Day 1 of the Te Araroa Trail.
A short shuttle ride from the backpackers in Invercargill to Stirling Point in Bluff where the nerves and excitement combined into one big ball of jittery energy. I was really about to do this.
With the help of the shuttle driver and my new-found hiking buddy we took some photos with the signpost, the true start point of the trail.
We then headed off on the Foveaux Walkway around the coast, filled with energy and smiles, this was the Te Araroa Trail, we were on it.
The track was beautiful, making our way through native bush as we looked out through the mist for a sign of Stewart Island.
Came to the lookout and took even more photos, especially since we could now see Stewart Island.
Eventually we came to the stile marking the cross into private farmland and saw our first TA sign!
The farmland section was beautiful, with interesting rock formations and coastal views, it solidified in my mind why I had decided to do this. I was on an adventure to see New Zealand, and, having never been further south than Dunedin, this was all new and exciting.
After 8km of bush and farmland we came to the other famous Bluff sign, all that walking and we were still in Bluff…
And then came the road walking. Thankfully the path running next to the State Highway had been finished, I felt uneasy being that close to the trucks as it was, let alone walking on the actual road!
In 24 degree heat with not a lot of shade the road walking was tough. Tough on the body and tough on the mind. I secretly wished someone would pull over and offer us a lift but no-one did and I wasn’t desperate enough to stick my thumb out so on we went.
Eventually we turned off from one gravel path to another and walked along Invercargill Estuary which was beautiful and scenic, especially because we had been so slow that the sun was slowly setting.
By this stage we both had blistered, aching feet and simply wanted the Kms to go faster. After 34.5km we emerged into Stead Street Wharf, the trail for today was over, but we still had 1.6km to walk to the backpackers.
We hobbled and grunted our way along the footpath, before collapsing on our beds. After a hot shower and some food, all thoughts turned to sleep and how we could possibly do it all again the next day.