Lake Ohau Track + East Ahuriri Track (part): Date: Wed 16th Dec
I heard rain on the veranda roof at 5am and thought “oh bugger” but dozed till 6.30am. The rain went away but there was a fresh dusting of snow on the surrounding mountains around Twizel in the morning.
Royce and I, went over to a cafe for breakfast. I had great scrambled eggs and a good strong coffee (good walking fuel). We were then joined by Mary, Steph and Barry (husband support driver) for a coffee nearer 8am. Mary is around my age and her daughter Steph is 18, were walking with me today from Twizel to Lake Middleton. They are from Lincoln, Christchurch.
After a start photo, we got on our way and headed along the cycle trail beside the road. We chatted getting to know each other. We came across some cattle with big horns. They weren’t pleased with us coming by so left in the other direction.
After a short while (4km), we reached Lake Ruataniwha and crossed a bridge by a salmon farm and began walking along side the lake. The next part of the day up until lunchtime was gravel road walking. There was sometimes a four wheel drive track that was gentler on the feet. The track meandered a lot and the stream was nice when we could see it. We got into a rhythm and passed the kilometers quickly.
At around 12pm, we came across a toilet and stopped for our lunch by the Weir by Lake Ohau. Mary pulled out a thermos and made me a delicious coffee. Fantastic! Having a coffee at lunchtime is a special treat for me.
We were then on the Ocean to Alps Cycle track. It went right by Lake Ohau and the majestic mountains looked great behind it. We again got into a rhythm walking along, which included seeing an old hut, crossing a Maori swamp, seeing only two cyclists on the whole cycle trail and a short rest break for some food.
Once we had covered the majority of the day’s walk we came out on to road. Firstly, Barry drives up and says hello, then Royce’s shuttle taking her to Lake Middleton. It was like we knew all the people using this very quiet country road.
I was starting to hurt and my legs wanted to stop. We were only thinking about the finish. We reached Lake Middleton (a pretty small lake) and finished by the camping sign. We said a fairly quick goodbye as the sand flies were biting and the rain was starting (great that it had stayed away all day prior). Mary and Steph were great company. It was lovely to have a Mum and Daughter do it together with me.
My day wasn’t over yet.
Royce and I, quickly headed to the toilet block for shelter. She cooked up a Christmas pudding each that we ate with yoghurt. Very nice to feel Christmasy. I had been psyching all day to carry on a bit further to get the next track started and find somewhere to freedom camp. So we got our gear sorted and plodded out another 7.6km. It was more road walking for 3km so I did a bit of moaning. I was feeling pretty knackered – like someone was pushing me backwards.
We found the turn off to the East Ahuriri Track and traversed up in a meandering way to Freehold creek. It rained on us towards the end. We saw flowering Rata trees with beautiful red flowers. Once we reached Freehold Creek, we searched for camp sites. This was hard as nothing was flat, there weren’t any trees to go under and plenty of prickly plants and rocks around.
I settled on a spot and put my tent up. I then went down to the creek and washed and collected water. It then started raining so I dove into my tent and got set up inside. When the rain let up, Royce and I started cooking our dinner. Only a couple of minutes later the rain started again. I was determined to cook my meal so kept going and only got a little wet. It was then back in the tent and I did everything else from there as the rain had set in.
It is nice listening to rain on the tent roof. It was a big day today with long kilometers and long flat road walking that I don’t like. Into the mountains tomorrow.