After a night in Otautau, we hitched back to the trail. It’s our final climb on the Te Araroa – the very last one after walking the whole South Island! We quickly reached Bald Hill with views of the sea and Stewart Island (New Zealand’s third largest) far in the distance. And there’s Bluff – the end of the trail
I found a nice dry spot to camp near the very top. Sunset and sunrise were both breathtaking.
The next morning we dropped back down into the trees. Longwood Forest is known for its mud and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
All that mud and rain sure make the rainforest lush, though. We especially enjoyed walking among the fern trees.
These giants make you feel like little ants. I never knew ferns could grow so big.
Even the vines are gargantuan.
The worst of the mud ended by the time we got to Martin’s Hut. I kind of wish we had made it here the night before – it’s the final hut on the trail and I have fond memories of all the huts. This one certainly has character.
Each hut has a logbook where you’re meant to sign in and leave a brief comment. Some people are much more creative.
Continuing past the hut we began following an old water run. This was used to funnel water down out of the forest for gold mining operations.
We even came upon some old mining machinery and artifacts.
Eventually we reached the end of the forest and met the sea at the little surfing town of Colac Bay.
My favourite thing in Colac Bay was this cuddly cat. What a life.
We began walking along the seaside road but quickly realized it was in bad repair. That must have been some storm to do this kind of damage!
The road gave way to a long pebble beach. It’s actually pretty hard walking as the small rocks give way beneath your feet.
It turned into a beautiful coastal walk, passing between rugged sea cliffs and peaceful green sheep pastures.
One last climb (I thought we already did the final climb of the TA!) and we were rewarded with great views of Riverton.
It’s a cute town is full of creative murals, kitschy craft shops, and used book shops.
I rewarded myself with the local specialty, Pea Pie Pud. Yum!