Feb. 6, 2015 After Queenstown, the Te Araroa picks up on the other side of Lake Wakatipu and follows the Greenstone track. I hitched from Queenstown to Glenorchy and then Glenorchy to Greenstone. You could also take a water taxi across the lake from Queenstown, but it’s pricey.
A cute Chinese couple on their honeymoon pick me up and soon we’re stopping at every roadside pullout because…well…it’s just that pretty.
Is this lake for real?
They drop me off at Glenorchy and I have to part ways with my worn out pair of Cascadias for “The Colgates,” a used pair of La Sportivas the color of toothpaste. I hate them but it saves me some money because buying new shoes in New Zealand is a lot more expensive. So is everything.
The guy at the info shop makes me a hitching sign that says Greenstone Please! Which is better than Greenstone NOW! Greenstone or Else! Greenstone because I said so! I get picked up by a local sheep farmer pulling a trailer full of scrappy herding dogs. Turns out he attended the same secondary school as my ex’s father.
I nervously laugh after everything I say because he looks like Robert Redford. I am a sucker for weathered hardworking men.
As we’re driving, he points to a clearing across the lake and shakes his head, “A wealthy American bought that piece of land and he’s making a private village.” I imagine an avalanche coming off the mountains and…
“I’m sorry,” I say to him.
At the trail head I get out of the truck and give thanks too many times so it’s awkward. “S’ollright” he says. I hit the Greenstone track almost running, it’s like a moving sidewalk. This is the easiest track I’ve seen yet but I know it won’t last for long.
Approaching the circus that is the Greenstone hut, I notice a group of twenty-somethings scoping me out. They turn to each other and snicker. Fucking twats! Must be the cotton dress I’m wearing. I had a lady in the Richmond Range say to me, “For someone who has hiked as much as you, I wouldn’t expect to see wearing a dress.”
I got the idea to wear a dress in the mountains long ago after I saw the musical drama Heidi. I wanted to frolic in meadows, pick flowers, and hang out with goats.
And then there was another time at a hut a lady sat next to me and asked “Do your parents know you’re out here alone?” I do not look 30. It is good and bad. It is bad because people don’t take me seriously, and I end up attracting twenty-something boys who fart on me for fun.
I pull some snacks from my bag, and skip down the track. It’s 5 pm and I hear someone say “Where is she going?”
After the Greenstone hut, the track looks more TA- like because not many people go beyond the hut. It’s barely a trail, just a mushy bush bog really. I’m back to a 2 mph pace. Mud tries to eat my shoes and I wish it would because I hate these shoes. Out of the bush, the track emerges into a beautiful valley below dramatic mountains where you’ll slog the bog and fight the tussock. The tussock feels like a fringe with too much hairspray. The orange markers play hide and seek in the tussock maze. I get to Taipo hut and you wouldn’t believe, I have it all to myself on a Friday night! From the hut window I watch birds soar over the tussock and broody clouds move across the mountain tops.