Once again, it rained overnight. Fortunately, it wasn't raining this morning. In fact, after swabbing the water off the rainfly, my tent weighed less than it has in days!
I hit the road about an hour earlier than yesterday (helps to get up at 6:30 instead of 7:15). I wasn't exactly sure how many km I was going today, so I wanted to get an earlier start.
The road was pretty flat for the first several km. after about an hour on the road I came to a bakery in the town of Wakefield. Since I really have been good about not stopping at bakeries, I decided to stop at this one. Besides, I am running low on food and...well, really, I just wanted a pie. I got a mince and cheese pie (they are delicious!) and there was this tasty looking thing sitting on the counter that appeared to be fresh out of the oven. I asked the lady what it was. She called it something that I couldn't understand. She said it was like a Christmas Mince pie. I said I have no clue what that is. She said, "You're American". So then the baker came over and told me the ingredients. Cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, almond paste and maybe currants? Sounded good to me! So, I got one of those too. That, I ate there. The mince and cheese pie I packed in my pannier for lunch later down the road.
I was back on the road when I went past a sign the said "Horse Poo, Chicky Poo, Eggs". I thought it was funny so I took a photo (see below). Then later I saw a sign that said, "Alpaca Poo-$2 a bag" I guess if I'd been in the market for some Horse Poo, Chicky Poo or Alpaca Poo, I was in the right place!
Remember how I said I had talked to the Australian couple and they recommended going to St. Arnaud instead of SH 6? How it was flatter? Well, if that way was flatter than SH 6, I'm REALLY glad I didn't go on 6! I don't even know the name of the road I was on, but it wasn't very flat. In fact, there were two long super granny gear climbs and many smaller hills. The great thing was that there was virtually no traffic. I do remember this one campervan that passed me. The license plate said "DAMVAN".
I knew from the road signs how many km I had to go to get to St. Arnaud. What I didn't know was if I would stay there or try to get to Kawatiri Junction. When I finally pulled into St. Arnaud,I stopped to look at my itinerary and the map. I should have made it to a place called Motupiko. Since that was about as far north from Kawatiri as I was east, I figured I could stay here in St. Arnaud. So, I am on Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lakes National Park at another DOC campground called Kerr Campground. The lake is beautiful. It's surrounded by mountains. I'm really glad I decided to stay here.
I stopped at the Visitor Center to pay my camp fee (and, for the first time, pay for a shower). On my way down to the campground, I stopped at the carpark for the lake. A couple pulled up in a car and got out. They said hi and then asked if I was American. I said yes, and they asked what State. They were also American from California.
We walked over to the dock where there were a bunch of ducks and a black swan and a whole mess of huge black eels in the water. Some women on the dock were feeding them bread. The ducks and swan got more than the eels (in Maori, "Tuna"). The eels were up to 3 feet in length! I had thought I might go swimming in the lake...maybe not! Eels are the closest thing New Zealand has to snakes! Actually, I'm not afraid of them, but it was a little freaky to think of swimming with them!
Joan and Ted and I exchanged blog/emails. They were a very nice couple. I even showed them my prowess at taking group self-portraits!
I got over to my campsite and set up my tent. The sand flies are numerous here. But, no problem for me! I just put on my handy dandy head net!
I went for a shower, then walked back down to the lake. It is just so gorgeous here! I did a little walk on a trail called the "Bellbird Trail". Apparently, there are Kiwi Birds there. Of course, they are nocturnal so the chances of actually seeing one were not good. Still, the birdsong in the trees was pretty cool. The campsite and trees and stuff look similar to places at home but, the bird sounds are different.
Before I had gone to the shower, the guy camping next to me came over. It was the same guy that was at Richmond last night. We talked for awhile. His name is Gerard and he is from Austria. He is driving a campervan and doing some hikes. The license plate on his van is...DAMVAN! I told him I remembered him passing me today. Then he said he remembered too!
I actually used my stove for the first time tonight. There is, of course, a kitchen, but it only has one stove so I thought I would let the other people use it. Besides, I need to use the fuel. I did do my dishes in the kitchen. Tomorrow I won't cook my breakfast on my stove because there is a hot water dispenser in the kitchen. It's much faster to use that.
Gerard looked on his map and said I have about 70 km to go tomorrow to Murchison. If there are not too many hills, it should be a short day.