I took a shuttle bus to Nelson Lakes, about 1hr 30 south of Nelson, because a colleague had recommended a track around a lake. A glorious spot, and glorious weather to boot. My first long solo hike was the Mt Robert Loop, an absolutely glorious mountain path with about 700m ascent to start. I met a hiker on the way: a professional chef who uses a dehydrator and vacuum pack machine to prepare her camping food, thus reducing its weight by three quarters. Nice idea! At the top of the walk is the Bushline Hut, the standard accommodation for kiwis doing multi-day tramping (hiking for US readers, walking for UK ones).
On the second day I decided to do a longer, flatter walk, to increase my stamina, and I walked all the way around Lake Rotoiti. In retrospect, this was a mistake. I concluded that lake walks are boring and that I will not do this again. I wore my trainers and got blisters all over my plates of meat. There is an established and highly rated trail run around the lake every April, which I will not be doing. The slightly odd selfie is my attempt to capture how I felt after eight and half hours of trudging. This walk gave me some good chances to practice my stream crossing, an aspect of hiking which, as Andy and Ryan will attest, is not my forte. I also did my first solo river crossing, a special feature of NZ hiking. Apparently kiwis keep their boots on but I swapped to flip flops.
I freaked myself out during this hike by listening to Serial [podcast by This American Life]. I think Ben H recommended this for me in revenge for the time I played him an increasingly hectic song just as he was calming down to go to sleep. As the journalist described in detail the placement of the body behind a 40ft log in deep woods, I looked ahead to find a 40ft log immediately in front of me. Arghhghghghgh. However on the plus side, this has helped me get over my sense of unease about walking in forests alone; I am now totally fine so long as I’m not listening to Serial.
Mt Robert Loop: 15km (9 plus the extra 6k to get back to the village)
Lake Rotoiti mistake: 25km