Start: Forest Creek
Finish: Geraldine
Distance: 11km

It’s 2022!

3 different alarms woke us all up 5am. We packed up our stuff before starting the slog along the rocky riverbed out to the carpark.

The sun was just rising, giving the sky a beautiful orange glow and I took a deep breath and smiled as I watched my friends walk ahead of me. What a way to start a new year.

It was a nice couple of hours as we navigated the riverbed and river crossings, enjoying the brief ease of 4WD tracks while they lasted.

Then the valley opened up and we walked through the grassy plains and along a fence line.

Eventually we came out at the Forest Creek bridge and carpark at 8.30am…2 hours before our shuttle.

We aired our boots and socks out and soaked our feet in the river before kicking back and enjoying the sun. I lay there in the grass listening to the flow of the river and the birds chirping and it felt so peaceful and calm.

Lots of sunblock later our shuttle turned up and we headed into Geraldine. We said a final goodbye to Pete and Jeremy, not knowing if we’ll ever see them again. It feels weird, this goodbye thing. You spend all this time with people and get to know them pretty well, sharing stories and lollies and forming a tribe, and then, without even knowing their last name, you say goodbye. Goodbye to these friends with whom you’ve shared some of the best and worst times of your life. Nothing can prepare you for that.

We check into the backpackers and spend the afternoon relaxing and organising our next couple of sections. These rivers, the Rangitata and Rakaia are such pains to try and navigate around, they make planning difficult but alas, we must do it.