Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 20: Queen Charlotte Track, Day 5, and on to Motueka

Day 20: Queen Charlotte Track, Day 5, and on to Motueka

NZ has 15,134 km of coastline and THB and DB do OVER 20 kms of it today in about 5.5 hours, faster than normal because we have to make the 3:30pm water taxi back to Picton.

Pop Quiz: How many of you remembered that this is Valentine’s Day? Did DB remember? Did THB remember?

Breakfast at the Lochmara café, flat white and muesli for DB, THB tries the french toast, which comes in layers: french toast, thin slices of ham, banana, and drowned in syrup and surrounded by jam. Not bad! Total of $27.

Of course, we start for an hour and half straight up (4 days out of 5: same same), most of it gradual, some of it severe (see pic of the rope course heading out). And today is the most humid of our NZ stay and probably even the entire trip.

THIS JUST IN: THB HAS PLANNED ANOTHER HIKING TRIP DURING THE HOTTEST MONTH EVER! This time it is NZ February 2011 (only half over and already the hottest in over 100 years). For those of you planning your future trips, you can start sliding back whole months (and run the risk of the worst winter weather ever).

The first three hours are grueling because of the humidity. For the first time we catch up to one of the guided hikes put on by our outfitters. We’re glad we chose not to do that, though they seemed delighted with the guide’s preparation of hot tea at lunch!

About four hours in, we turn a corner and get shade, a good breeze and a sudden dramatic lowering of humidity. Not to complain (more than usual), NOW we get low humidity? Not on any of the climbs? Oh well, THB isn’t complaining, this is about as good as hiking conditions get when combined with the spectacular scenery of the QC Sound.

Arrive at the end of the track (see pic) at 2:30, time to rest up and eat a lemonade popsicle (this time there is a caravan with ice cream awaiting us). Catch the ferry to Picton, say goodbye to the Brits who have matched us step-for-step and lodge-for-lodge, find Apex rental car and get a manual Sunny. THB has decided that he can now master the wrong side of the road and shifting at the same time. This is no Corolla, it is an ancient piece oh crap (we may have to turn it in, it is sounding horrible).

The drive to Motueka is 2.5 hours, and after letting ourselves in to the home exchange, we drive a short distance back to town for a Thai dinner of spring rolls (very very good), pad thai (a bit sweet) and duck curry (spicy, which helps the pad thai) and rice. Two glasses of pinot gris and Hop Rocker brewski, $65.

Pick up a few necessities for breakfasts and miscellaneous at the market across the street from the Thai place, $40, and back for a shower and needed rest.

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