From Queenstown, it was off to our hike!
The hike starts and ends from different spots, so we had it all planned out. We’d drive to the end, have a morning kayak, and then take a bus over in the afternoon to start the hike.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), we discovered that to start the hike, we would actually have to catch a once-a-day ferry leaving in the early afternoon, for which we would have to catch a bus early in the morning, which would mean missing our kayak trip. The hike is extremely well organized and documented, so we were the only fools who had managed to reserve the hike without simultaneously reserving the lake ferry (why don’t they just sell them as a package? who knows.)
We spent the night at the lovely lodge, light painting silly things, and then we were off!
The first day was an extremely easy warmup. Sunny afternoon, flat ground, short distance (5km). The ranger spent a long time telling us about nature. We went on an evening stroll during which we learned about manuka honey and how the local swampland cleaned things up. As dusk set in, we set out to find glowworms. Since glowworms don’t like flashlights, we walked around in near darkness, getting brushed by twigs and shadows, which triggered certain scared women to hold my hand.
Also of note: My alcohol stove worked! Although it turns out that the NZ hiking infrastructure is so good, they had actual gas lines in each of the huts we stayed at. Related, these “huts” were much more impressive than I had expected. I was thinking pit toilets and semi drafty wooden structures. Instead, I encountered solid buildings with some heating, running water (and toilets) and bunk beds with mattresses. Crazy.