12. Te Anau

Wednesday, February 22: Heavy rain overnight, becoming fine, sunny & hot in the course of the day

Walking: 11.0 km

Steamers Beach

Breakfast this morning was a “traditional”: Eggs, ham & toast at the Olive Tree Café for $15 plus a double flat white for $4 (52 Town Centre). This was served with satchels of jam and honey, which brought me to the idea of perhaps substituting honey for sugar in the tramping coffee.

But first I tried to get to the Trips & Tramps office, which is a fair way out of town, and in reality not an office but just a depot, so I returned the way I took out, back along the Milford Road. Te Anau Collision Repairs has the charming slogan, “Show us your crack”, and all the toury places along the path were booked out.

In town, the Mitre 10 had very little in the way of hats on offer, at the library, the wifi rooms had been moved to the other side of the building & no longer require entering the library as such. At the Four Square a gent was carefully selecting ready made sandwiches which, when his selection was complete, he commented on to me that, “This is my favourite brand”, and it was only then that I noticed that he had been fumbling among yesterday’s sandwiches, which were, until about midday at least, reduced to $2 a round.

Tried a couple of places along the main street for a hat, but the dedicated camping ones were $40-60 (almost definitely cheaper elsewhere), so I settled for a designed in NZ/made in China stiff broad rimmed hat with plastic spring halter which is almost completely analogous to my lost floppy one (which was purchased as a stiff one, but never materialised as such) for all of $12. Includes a silver fern and “New Zealand”.

Back here, negotiated the left luggage including a safe for passports & wallet, then returned with the laptop for some library internet, lunch & tramping shopping. Lunch was first on the program, but noticed immediately that the stale sandwiches had either been removed or sold out so I opted for a Jimmie’s mince pie with dead horse and a Mountain Dew for little over $6. Met a Canadian/German couple from BC and shared a table with them in the corner park for lunch. Library internet was not secured either, but started up a conversation with Alice Eruera about speaking in Dunedin, contacted my host there about arriving mid afternoon, tried contacting Michael and Trips & Tramps about the spot messages and the latter about extra tickets, and then embarked on the tramping shopping. Noticed that nearly everywhere has a plastic cup of 260 mL capacity for about $4 – have to buy at some stage. Only forgot the gas & dried fruit, but managed to get 1 kg of regular long grain rice, oxo cubes, a pound of raw sugar, and a new screw top container which will take the sugar. On return passed by the Doc for information on the track, but not much was forthcoming.

Time was beginning to get tight. The motorcamp office is closed from 21:00-8:00, so my suitcase and the documents have to be deposited there tonight. A plan was made. It was almost a pity because Fiordland was putting on one of its most spectacular days and I could see Mt Luxmore, the Limestone Bluff, Brod Bay, and of course, the long, spectacularly white and invitingly close mountain of Titiroa.

First of all the eggs were boiled, the process being sped up by starting with the “boiling” water that was on tap, and using the largest plate on the ceramic oventop. Once boiled for 30 s the water was replaced to 50% by adding ordinary tap water (in lieu of ice cubes) and kept at simmering temperature for ten minutes. No eggs broken, let’s hope this works.

Meanwhile the cap of the margarine container was freed of fat by washing with detergent and wiping the sides with paper towels so that the outside is almost completely fat free.

Time for dinner. First, the Four Square delivered on a large gas can for $17 (hope the boat can still transport it) and some prunes. Then it was the Moose’s turn for a chicken burger for $20 (84 Lakefront Dr; the Ranch was cheaper, the Indian place didn’t appear to have Tandoori Chicken) and at 7:00 I was ready for the next step: Tooth brushing (no problem) and then a shower & change into hiking gear, with no towel to dry myself with. Hostels seem to be out of the business of providing towels, so that left me with my two; and making the swimming towel wet and packing it wet into the suitcase was not a good idea. Achieved a result by wiping water off me and using the ubiquitous paper towels.

This was completed just before 8:00, was able to get everything into the suitcase, trundled it over to the reception; here they had a locker available for $15 (including a fee for use of the safe). Booked two further nights here from March 3 & paid for them, again the price had to be negotiated with Louise from Laoise. Got a key to the locker (in West Arm) so had to trundle the case back again and on the way considered extracting the computer out again, since I would only need to throw the secondary backpack into the locker tomorrow morning. Had forgotten the mouse anyway, and it would be better to charge as many batteries as possible. Spot batteries showed red for the first time in a long tine, so they would have to be replaced for tomorrow.

Sitting down in the lounge writing two days of diary while listening to various conversations in Danish, French & English. One last internet visit & then off onto the track.