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Dec. 26 — Leaving the South Island

The Interislander Ferry

I awoke early on Boxing Day to catch the 6:30 ferry to the north island. My ferry ticket booked through Intercity had issues, but fortunately I still found myself aboard the boat in time. The trip to the other island was peaceful, departing through picturesque sounds as I strolled the ship’s open deck. The ferry also contained an inside lounge, kids play area, and even a cinema for the three-hour tour. I mainly sat back enjoying the boat ride and scenery, as well as catching a couple winks sleep. The open water crossing rocked just enough to remind me I was on the water, but no great heaves and hoes to cause queasiness. In bad whether though, I heard the crossing could get a bit choppy.

Myself onboard the ferry

Upon arrival in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington, I had a whole ten minutes to enjoy the sights of the harbor front as I raced along it to catch my bus. My layover was much shorter than the recommended time between the ferry’s arrival and a bus’s departure, so I barely made my connection to Stratford, where I could access Egmont National Park. Most of that ride was spent catching up on sleep missed the past two nights.

The bus had mechanical difficulties and arrived in Stratford about an hour lake. I grabbed a juicy hamburger, oddly enough from a Chinese restaurant. This Chinese restaurant functioned exactly as ones in the States, with a heavily accented woman calling out orders, assigning a seemingly random number to them. Still, the system delivered delicious grub, so I am not complaining.

Egmont National Park

Route I hiked this day

Route I hiked this day

My preplanning did not find a scheduled shuttle into Egmont National Park, so I intended to walk the ten kilometers to its perimeter. I may have been able to hitch a ride again, but instead took the long, easy stroll along the road, watching Mount Egmont grow bigger so very slowly on the horizon. Listening to another audio book passed the time.

Mt. Egmont’s Peak

Mt. Egmont’s Peak

Upon arrival in the national park, forests blanketed the road as the terrain began its initial climb to the summit. I did not arrive at turnoff to the track to Waingongoro Hut until almost 8:30. Reaching it before darkness was questionable, but there was nowhere else to stay, other than a plush hotel at the trailhead. So I plunged into the bush, hurrying to reach the hut before nightfall completely enveloped the land. I did not have the opportunity to enjoy the track as I raced through the woods. In areas covered by canopy daylight was almost entirely absent, and I resorted to my headlamp to avoid the roots. My quick pace at least brought me to the hut before total darkness, in half the time the trailhead sign predicted. Once again on a first night in a national park, I foolishly started a walk near dust and arrived late at a hut. One day my risk taking will catch up with me.