3 day hike on the Greenstone and Caples tracks

Spent a day preparing for my hike and deliberating over whether I needed proper walking shoes or a new pair of trousers. At some stage in my travels I have managed to lose one of the legs of my zip off trousers, no idea how but it's definitely gone. I walked out to Frankton to shop in the warehouse discount shop where I bought a head torch and some comfy socks. On the way back a cyclist overtaking me said 'how ya going? Get all the honey?'. I think this was a reference to the fact that I had been picking my nose until I heard the bike coming. In the evening I said goodbye to my best friends from the trip - Pete, Shauna and Tyler, quite possibly forever.

The Greenstone and Caples tracks form a circular walk that is usually done over 4 days and 3 nights. For some reason I decided that I could do it in 2 nights and the only way to do this is to combine the two longest sections of the track which gives an estimated time of between 10 and 14 hours. Considering I have never done any walks over one day this was not a well thought through plan. I only had trainers, my backpack is off the 80s, I had no cooking equipment and I was going alone so if anything went wrong I was up a well known creek. I did have Herman though and his relaxed attitude put me at ease.

On the first day the bus took us out of Queenstown and then 5 minutes later back in to Queenstown because the driver had forgotten to close the luggage door and at some stage a bag had fallen out. It took about 20 minutes to trace the bag to the police station and then we set off again to Glenorchy. From there myself and an American couple got a water taxi out to the start of the track. We were the only 3 starting the track that day which I thought was brilliant, a well known and popular route that once I'd run off and ditched the yanks I would have to myself like the greedy git that I am. I started off walking with the Americans and to my surprise I liked them very much. I was concerned that they had done lots of walking in New Zealand already and were planning to take 4 or 5 nights to do the walk whilst idiot novice boy was trying it in two. I was less concerned after a few minutes when it became clear that they were painfully slow. We got talking about sticks and they said they had lost two good ones when they were kayaking. I told them how sorry I was and how strange it is that I was already quite attached to my stick. The girl agreed and she had even started putting carvings in hers. Herman did not look impressed at this but I liked the idea of giving him a tattoo against his will.

It was time to walk at my own pace so I said farewell to the American couple and wished them well in their upcoming wedding (2 months away, they may not make it if they carried on walking so slowly). The track was easy going and I was blissfully alone in the river valleys and forests miles from civilisation. It took about 4 hours to get to my first nights accomodation a Department of Conservation (DOC) hut with matresses, stream water and a long drop toilet the only facilities. In New Zealand there are over 1000 of these huts on walking tracks in the middle of nowhere just for trampers (walkers) and they're usually cheap on the back country tracks - $15 for this one. There were 6 of us in the hut, 2 Israelis who did not know each other, 1 Aussie, 1 Kiwi and his Malaysian partner. It was nice not having any Brits around but I didn't talk much as I was tired so I foolishly got an hours sleep before dinner of Lembas bread, muesli bars, crisps and jelly babies. Because of the power nap I couldn't sleep come night time and unfortunately I was beneath the young Israeli who decided he needed a Tommy tank. I was tempted to say something but then remembered I was trying to be more tolerant and I was a teenager not too long ago so I put my headphones in and eventually dozed off at 3am.

Knowing my second day would be long I left at 8am, the first part of the walk was hard, all over tree roots and rocks up 1000m hill, fun at first but tiring after 3 hours of the same terrain. Once over the hill it was pretty easy going just a very lanky trek. At 6pm Herman and I made it, sweating, smelly and exhausted, to the Greenstone hut. There were 12 people there who had started half way along my days walk. They looked confused as to where I had come from and thought I was a bit daft going so far in one day especially only in trainers. I had enjoyed myself though and was glad to once again be the only Brit, except for a German called Brit but that doesn't count. I had a good chat with two more Israelis who again did not travel together. Apparently it's because they've all been conscripted in to the army that they walk up lots of hills on their own. I was last to leave the hut the next morning, feeling fresh and smelling anything but. I overtook the other 12 one by one mainly due to me not carrying as much as the others - unimportant stuff like first aid kits, cooking utensils, enough food or warm clothing. Compared to everyone else on the track who had been out for up to 6 nights I had not really been roughing it but I was still excited about hot greasy food and what Ali would call a massive shower.

I do like a hike.