The last time I wrote of my husband Tim’s Te Araroa Trail, from Cape Reinga to Bluff, he had lost his new hemp hat, drowned his camera and nearly drowned himself in the Wanganui River, all in time to celebrate Christmas.

In mid-January I collected him from a cafe in Havelock and we travelled back to Central Otago for a few weeks of photography in the vineyards.  After he covered the Bannockburn Bowling Club celebrations, I took him back to Havelock, considerably cleaner and fresher than I had found him!

Back in alpine country in the South Island was Tim’s happy place, though the track continues to throw him challenges – wasp invasion, days of isolation from other humankind, a few (but overall not many) extremely wet days, and high rivers – some, like the Rakaia and the Rangitata, requiring vehicle support.

Bannockburn friend Mark Christie joined Tim for a few days at Rakaia, and Tim really enjoyed his company and conversation.  Then it was south to Tekapo, over the high point of the whole track.

“Beautiful country in sunshine, views of majestic Southern Alps to the West, and easy downhills.  I was in Paradise.”

Lately, Tim has enjoyed being in home territory, and I met him with a food drop at Lake Ohau Lodge, then collected him at Hawea to go home to a birthday dinner with friends at the Black Rabbit, Bannockburn – his 73rd birthday.

I walked with him along the track the next day form Hawea to Albert Town.  I can therefore almost claim to be a SOBO TA – that’s a Southbound Te Araroa Trail walker to the uninitiated.  However, Tim’s thoughts were very focussed on the Pembroke Patisserie, which did not disappoint.

Last seen when I took him to the Greenstone Car Park, having spent a lovely night at the Kinloch Lodge, Tim is now in Southland country, and if all goes to plan I will soon be waiting at Bluff with champers to celebrate proof that there’s life in the old guy yet!

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