Big day in time and effort yesterday. Big day in distance today.

My tent was wet from dew and condensation, but I packed up and added to the wetness of my shorts by being first through the long grass.

Just a day for striding out.

An hour down to the hut where 16 trampers resided last night, some still milling about despite the perfection of the day.

Earlier a couple of young Germans had asked anxiously about the pass.

“Oh, it’s good, it’s been bulldozed and has boardwalks over the swampy bits,” but that didn’t seem to assuage their fears.

Then it was bashing out the last of the trail. I spotted someone crossing the suspension bridge from the Greenstone Track, maybe one minute ahead of me, but they must put their foot on the accelerator.

A car left the car park just as I arrived.

Man, there won’t be much traffic up at this dead-end dirt road.

I have learned one lesson from hitchhiking that has usefully transferred to the rest of my life.

No expectations. No disappointments.

Then anything good that happens is a bonus.

I had lunch on the move, supplementing it with a few handfuls of juicy sweet blackberries.

Life is pretty good.

A car goes past, but doesn’t pick me up. Did I care?

It was an exceptionally calm cloudless sky, and I was walking along the edge of Lake Wakatipu, well, on the dusty road.

I made a deal.

If I could get to the start of the 12 km gravel Rees River Road, that’s how far it is up to the start of the track, before 2 pm I’d plod on up, otherwise I’d have the night in Glenorchy and try tomorrow.

A paid campsite, a beer or three, pizza, etc. Sounds like $100.

A Jucy campervan went past, the driver leaning out the window saying “Full up.”


But they stopped 100 m down the road, and started rearranging the back. Looked hopeful.

Better mention here that it must be 10 km another to Kinloch, and with road walking, you can have sufficient of a good thing.

Oh, there was room after all.

We made another 100 m, and had time for the driver to announce he was a professional photographer and he was looking for shots.

What do I care?

I was sitting down. Movement was a bonus.

He saw a shot of Mount Earnslaw, and decided this much-taken shot is just what he was after. Shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes.

20 minutes??

A lot of fussing about what lens that had his girlfriend busy bringing options from the van. Then she went for a swim.

He was busy with his shot. He took his 20 minutes, make that 25, then said he might try for a handheld. Another 10 minutes of fussing.

It was interesting to see the extraordinary care a professional went to.

I am, if this isn’t entirely obvious, a snapshot taker. I quickly squeeze off five similar shots with slightly different framing and exposure, and hope for the best. It takes me 15 seconds, and I barely break my stride. Later, if the image is useful for my website I just pick the “best” shot and quickly crop and tweak and resize as required. That generally takes less than a minute. Having done this for 15 years I just trust my judgement to work out what is most relevant to my eye.

I want to capture the feel of the moment.

Blurring? No problem, if that is what it was about.

I was not making progress, and two cars had just gone by.

I had come 200 m.

Eventually he captured what he wanted, and we were off, but a mob of sheep were being mastered on a nearby hillside. He thought he could take some more shots so after we had progressed perhaps another 100 m he stopped.

I guess it took another half-hour, but this time he really had got some great shots, albeit handheld. Lots of sheep dogs, and the gnarly shepherd with a timber stick, and dust. All under a clear blue sky.

Archetypal New Zealand. It really was a scene.

He said if they hadn’t stopped for me they would have missed it all. They would be happy to take me up the Rees River.


And that’s how after an hour or more we finally proceeded from the 300 m mark.

I gave a commentary along the way they seem to appreciate.

After one dubious creek crossing they sensibly decided to turn back, but I only had 2.5 km to the roadend. That carved off a huge road walk.

Muddy Creek stops most vehicles, but I was just through that when I was picked up by some four-wheel drivers from Argentina, who were doing things with their vehicle that others probably wouldn’t.

When the track ended I marched off, then from about 500 m further on saw they had driven into the riverbed and were having problems getting out. Use of the differential lock would assist but I was too far gone.

The valley floor is flat and surprisingly swampy. Man, I was getting to the point of having enough walking the day at this stage. Swamps I did not need.

A splendid campsite popped up with a fine view of the east face of Mount Earnslaw.

Still the last of the sun to dry out my tent out.

Just those sandflies to content with.

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