Day 87: Road and Farm Walk to Pelorus Bridge
Sunday, February 4, 2024 7:06 pm
Location: Pelorus Bridge Campground (1859.6 km)

A long stretch before my next resupply begins easy, with a mostly-flat trail to the Pelorus Bridge Campground.

With only 21 km planned today, I was in no hurry to leave town. I intended to get breakfast this morning at the town’s breakfast cafe, the “Sneaky Beach”, which opened at 7:30, so I set my alarm accordingly.

On the way there, I passed by a monument in the center of town with displays, one of which had a shield emblazoned with NASA, Cal Tech, and the JPL. Wondering why those institutions were prominently mentioned on a display in Havelock, New Zealand, I investigated. The two memorials flanking the monument were for Ernest Rutherford (a pioneer in nuclear physics) and William Pickering (a pioneering rocket scientist), who went to school in Havelock.

After breakfast, I returned to the hostel, and repacked my pack. With nine days of food, it all barely fit; I had to strap the tent to the outside of my pack in order to make it work. I left just before 10, walking down Havelock’s main road, SH 6.

There was sidewalk for a short while, and then a wider than typical shoulder along SH 6, and then the trail turned off onto a small one-lane road with minimal traffic.

I passed a northbounder — the first actual Bluff-to-Cape Reinga hiker I’ve met so far — who was actually excited for the North Island. (He was looking forward to only having to carry 2 or 3 days worth of food.)

After crossing over the Pelorus River, the trail joined a road following above its left bank. This took me through (surprise, surprise) farmland, punctuated with an escaped cow on the road. It seemed unsure where to go, and slowly wandered away from me as I walked down the road. Fortunately, a rancher and her daughter drove past, cornering the cow, and getting it to turn around and go where it was supposed to be.

Nearly all of the (very little) traffic on the road appeared to be farm-related. Otherwise, the rest of the morning was very quiet.

Next to a few mailboxes, a picnic table provided a great place to sit down for a break.

The trail eventually turned off the road, onto “Dalton’s Track”, a path through a working farm. For most of its length, the trail followed the fenceline overlooking the Pelorus River. Even though it was flat, it was still a tiring section. There were, of course, no trees to provide shade, the ground was occasionally quite uneven from cattle footprints, and there were so many stiles I had to climb over I lost count. (Easily a dozen.) One of the paddocks I had to cross didn’t have a stile, but rather a detachable electric fence wire. The connector was rather flimsy and was very tightly hooked in, and didn’t insulate well, so I could feel pulses of electricity flowing through as I tried to manipulate it.

TA Through The Farm
TA Through The FarmEven on the South Island, the trail goes through farms.

Towards the end of the series of paddocks, my luck ran out and I had to go through a paddock with easily a couple hundred cows that seemed not inclined to get out of my way. Fortunately, the paddock next to it was empty, and the (probably electric) fence separating the two was short enough that I could just step over it. So after making my way past a few of the cows, I was able to step into the other paddock and move alongside the fence without any problems, including from the cows laying down directly on the trail. (And, it turned out, I would have had to cross a stile to get into that paddock anyways to finally leave the cow fields, so I was happy I managed to skip having to climb yet another stile.)

A Herd of Cows on the Trail
A Herd of Cows on the Trail

Now out of the farm, the TA entered the woods and joined a loop trail to the Pelorus Bridge campground. After crossing bridges over the Rai and Pelorus Rivers, I made my way to the cafe serving the campground and got (I’m sure you guessed) soda and ice cream. And also a little fruit bowl.

Rai River
Rai River

After a bit of a break there, I made my way to my campsite, next to an RV (because there were only RV spaces left).

After getting my tent set up, I got a shower, and then cooked dinner. I was surprised to find the campground had a kitchen with gas stoves, which will extend my fuel supply a little longer.

Taking advantage of the stove, I cooked the box of macaroni and cheese I’d bought in Wellington, and also one of the extra packages of ramen I wound up with yesterday’s resupply, hopefully making a dent in the food weight.

Also at the campground were Tam and Lee (whom I last saw at Parawai Lodge in the Tararua Range; and then again this morning when I got breakfast).

Tomorrow should be a longer, but hopefully relatively easy day as I make my way up the Pelorus River Track towards the Richmond Range. Then, the real fun begins…