Tue 28 February 2017
- Km today: 24
- Total Km: 710
The sunrise makes getting up a pleasure. I have a cup of tea with Tony then he runs me down the road so that I don’t walk on the highway. Horse Range road runs somewhat parallel to the highway through steepish countryside and forestry. For a start I amble along the roadside comfortable that there is hardly any morning traffic. Dogs bark at me, often the small yapping ones that are all bark but stay safely behind garden fences. I look for fruit trees but this road is all about dairy farming. Just cows and they are not interested in my diet. There is a large sign up front. It’s orange with big letters so there has to be something significant for my attention. It is warning of logging trucks on the narrow road. I have seen logging trucks already, most heading towards the forest so they’ll be coming out presumably. I just hope that this road has a decent verge for me to walk on. One which will keep me far enough away from the trucks. The forestry doesn’t start for quite a while along the road and I get to enjoy the farming countryside with barely any traffic to watch out for. I don’t meet anyone either. When the forestry begins the road also commences a climb up a big hill. No gentle railway gradient here, unlike trains, cars and trucks can power up steep inclined. My legs and lungs get a work out. The reward is a great view from the higher ridges back across to the coast and inland. I can still see in the distance the Sir John McKenzie memorial cairn on Puketapu. Whilst in government he played a significant part in unlocking and breaking up the huge landowner stations for farmers and homesteaders. I am also grateful to discover once at the top that the current forestry operation is only situated here, so there won’t be any more logging trucks to worry about.
The road went over the crest of the hill and descends into the area known as Trotters Gorge. The removal of pine trees on one side leaves ugly scars however it is the right side of the valley which I’m interested in. I have a feeling a deja vu. It is brought on by the landscape of gorse, pine trees on a ridge and rocky outcropping. I know, it reminds me of the walk to Cathedral Cove near Hahei. Somewhere I may get to on my journey although it feels like the other side of the world right now. Walking is slow. Still I enjoy the way down into the valley with big stone cliffs on either side and it’s only me. Wait just when I am thinking there has been no traffic, a van comes past. Coincidence is having fun with me. The gorge is short lived and I walk through the countryside until reaching the main highway. Apple trees provide some sustenance towards the end although they are not very sweet yet. I cross onto state highway 1 towards Moeraki. It is nearing lunchtime and fortunately the traffic does seem to abate somewhat. It is never pleasant walking on highway with the vehicles intent on their 100kmh plus speeds and no real provision for walkers or cyclists. Fortunately the road does have a wide ish verge and with less traffic it’s not too bad. I stop at the turnoff to Moeraki and debate whether to walk there. I had phoned Fleurs, the famous seafood restaurant and left a message to work for a donation. I had not heard back plus I know the restaurant is closed today so I push on. Shame as it would have been excellent to work with Fleur Sullivan even if for a day or night.
It’s not far to the Moeraki boulders where I stop for a coffee before climbing down the stairs onto the beach. The boulders are lying all over the beach, some are spherical while others are in halves or less. There are also amazing flat examples to see. I won’t try to explain how they were formed however it did happen about 60 million years ago. They are known as septarian concretions. Maori legend describes them as petrified calabashes and eel nets from an ancient waka. Further along the beach the different layers of strata are clearly evident and it looks like boulders are being born from the cliffs. I keep heading north along the beach not really knowing how far I will get to. The tide is coming in and it reaches right up to the cliff so at some point I won’t be able to go further along the beach. The decision was made once I reached Hampden where there is a beachside holiday park. I got a cute wee caravan for the night and enjoyed the local fish (elephant fish) & chips from Lochies takeaways. On the way back to the camp I got talking to two girls at the railway line and it turned out one of them shaved my beard at the barbershop in Wanaka – small world.