In the Land of the Long White Cloud
Pewter and moody blue paint the landscape
With the sea a splash of aquamarine
Greeting our arrival
Today, in Nelson, the sea continues to be a beautiful aquamarine. Large clouds, hopefully with rain, are skirting the ranges towards the north, a breeze dances the trees and the sun continues to shine. Nelson, New Zealand is on water restrictions and is desperate for rain. Wherever green should be in the landscape, there is yellow-brown. Plants in gardens, usually hardy, are curling their leaves. Today it is only 22 degrees but humidity is high and it feels very warm. Temperatures in NZ are deceptive, so too, is the intensity of the sun, which today is fierce. Despite the intensity of the weather, our plans for walking Te Araroa South Island are ago.
Completing Te Araroa North Island, 1700km from Cape Reinga to Wellington on John’s 66th birthday on 26 March 2017, was a walk of triumph for us. Te Araroa is “The Long Pathway”, New Zealand’s long distance tramping route, stretching 3000km along the length of the North & South Islands. Unlike the countless through walkers completing both islands in one very long walk, we have chosen to continue our TA trail by walking the South Island in stages. Our plan this trip, is to walk from Ships Cove in the Marlborough Sounds to Arthur’s Pass, approximately 450kms with Ships Cove being the starting point of TA South Island.
We are somewhat perplexed that our preparation and lead up to this point has been complicated by a myriad of little challenges. John, after successfully completing his 70.3 Ironman event in Geelong in Victoria on Sunday, discovered that the piece of glass in his foot was in fact about 9 splinters; compliments of a sea urchin that he had inadvertently trodden on, after his pre-warm up swim. Minor surgery performed by John & Nancy to dig the blighters out over successive days, a visit to the doctors for antibiotics, should they be needed, slathering said area on foot in a cream designed to assist in removal of splinters, has hopefully sorted that issue.
Nancy, meanwhile has jaw issues. Not needed for walking but an aching free jaw is needed for eating. Meditation, ibuprophen, exercise (and red wine🤪) to ease tension in the jaw, muscles above and around the jaw, neck and shoulders, is helping. Before leaving Perth, physio sessions gave tension-releasing, a head start…excuse the pun! Then hives decided to pay a visit. Insect bites, ibuprofen…not sure of the cause but both can cause a hives outbreak. The rash is thankfully settling down, with a little help from antihistamine.
Enough on the health front as more serious situations have been building to cause issue with our TA plans. Recent fire in Wakefield (near Nelson) causing evacuations for local residents for a few days, continues to burn underground. Meanwhile, on the other end of the high fire danger spectrum, Tropical Cyclone Oma tracking Queensland coast and on a possible course to NZ has caused havoc with the longer range NZ weather forecasting. Now it would seem that projected heavy rainfall appears to be but a dream for Nelson. With high fire risks in the Nelson district continuing, water shortages at some huts, closure of tracks and access roads because of the high fire danger, we have had to consider alternative plans. However, as said earlier, our TA plans are ago. We are not sure how far our walk will traverse but we commence walking from Ships Cove in the Marlborough Sounds on Monday, on the Queen Charlotte Track. After reaching Pelorus 107km (5 nights on the trail), we will return to Nelson for restock and re-evaluation of the track conditions, road closures and the weather.
Our friends Dave & Kerry from Taranaki are walking Queen Charlotte Track with us. Hopefully, the rain that is falling in the Marlborough area today and tomorrow, will allow the re-opening of part of the track on the Queen Charlotte that has been closed because of high fire risks (it’s walking the road otherwise). We are glamping this TA Queen Charlotte trail section. Lodge accommodation, ‘proper’ food and beverages and we might only carry a day pack weight as the bulk of our TA luggage might join Dave & Kerry’s which is being daily ferried to the next night’s accommodation. Even more hopefully; the projected bad weather over the Cook Strait will not delay Dave & Kerry arriving by ferry, into Picton tomorrow.
Perplexed we may be by jaw & feet issues, high fire risks and track closures we must turn to the positive. Life is for the making; as John says, “We’ll suck it and see”. Meanwhile, in sunny Nelson, it’s been a joy catching up with family and some very special friends, spending time staying with John & Linda who have made their home, ours. Sitting atop of one of Nelson’s many high hills affords John & Linda’s home a beautiful outlook from many windows. As I type, the distant sea continues aquamarine, the hills yellow, the trees and breeze still dance, but the clouds with the promise of rain, are slipping over the other side of the ranges. We hope the Land of the Long White Cloud delivers rain to Nelson soon.