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February 16th
Iris Burn Campsite-Kepler Track Car Park
Mileage: 19.7mi/31.7km

It was a nice peaceful night of sleep and we got going at 7:30am. We knew it would be a wooded flat cruise for the day, so we had plenty of time to hike the 20mi/32km before we had to catch our bus back to Queenstown. The walking really was all wooded with nothing that stood out much, but I so enjoy wooded strolls on a winding clear path. Much of the woods along the TA have so much mud and roots that it’s tough to relax and stroll. I did enjoy this one for that, but I understand that for a Great Walk, people expect something grander. I feel like yesterday’s alpine section made it well worth it and I found it relaxing today. 

Morning view from Iris Burn Campsite.

I started a fictional audiobook called “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce. I haven’t been able to enjoy an audiobook on this hike, and this is the first time I’ve been in the mood, so I don’t know when I’ll complete it. It’s basically about a retired man that led a simple unnoticed life until he goes on a walk one day and decides to keep walking until he reaches Northern England, over 500mi away. 

I’m around Harold’s third day or so where he’s beginning to reflect and think for the first time about who he is after a life very much lived avoiding others and going unnoticed. It’s pretty good so far, and the quote that stood out to me today just as he is beginning to self-reflect and see himself was, “Maybe you saw even more than the land when you got out of the car and used your feet.” 

Viewpoint overlooking the Waiau River.

Shallow Bay

As Griggs and I neared the end of the track, we texted Christina who owned the Lakefront B&B that we’d stayed at and she said she could pick us up at 2:30pm. We ran the last couple kilometers to make it just in time. Seriously, we aren’t even staying at the B&B tonight and she was waiting for us at the finish. She dropped us off in town and we mentioned ice cream. Well, she coincidentally owned a fancy Italian restaurant that sold Italian ice cream during the day. We totally went there and treated ourselves to a double scoop each so we felt like we paid her for the rides since she wouldn’t take money. I should have gotten and ice cream photo! So kind!

THANK YOU to Christina from the Lakefront B&B!

We had about an hour and a half to resupply for our next trip (Mt Aspiring National Park after Becky’s birthday in Queenstown tomorrow) and eat before our bus to Queenstown. We got done just in time to catch the bus where it dropped us off downtown a couple days ago. When we got there, no one else was waiting. We looked at the booking more closely and the pick-up was just outside of town in a totally different place! We didn’t have time to make it on foot, and managed to get someone at the gas station getting gas to take us quickly. We made it with 3mins to spare, and then the bus was late, of course! All that stress for nothing, plus I totally left half my cheeseburger and fries in the car that gave us a ride, argh! Me and leaving things in cars!

We got to Queenstown around 7pm and I was finally reunited with Becky and Tom after 33 days apart! It was sooo great! We all went out to a late dinner and ice cream. Ah, SO HAPPY!!!

So happy to be reunited!

Tomorrow is Becky’s 21st birthday. She was determined to stay up until midnight, which is tough for hikers to do. We all are in a hostel room for four together at the Pinewood, which is a good budget deal to get in Queenstown. We all were up on our phones waiting for midnight, and 5mins before, I looked over to see Becky completely knocked out in a deep sleep. Ah, she made it so close! It was seriously like a kid on New Year’s. We just had to wake her at midnight and played a heavy metal birthday music song to wake her. Aww! Our Becky is 21! Tomorrow, we will be celebrating the big day by heading to the Nevis Bridge bungee jump (for Griggs and Tom) and tandem swing (for Becky and me). Oh man!

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