We retraced our route by bus back to where we ended yesterday’s walking and bumped into Ben from the Yukon whom we met at hut two up in the Tararua Ranges. He too was doing what we were at finishing the North Island part today and joined us. The more the merrier!
Nick and I had this crazy idea of doing a pie-athon across the city. This is where you eat as many pies along the way and so started with one before we trudged out the last of the steps. It was the staple diet we missed when chomping continuous tuna and two-minute noodles and so downed a mince and cheese Irvines pie without hesitation. It was delicious! Claire and Ben were non-participative.
We entered into the Botanical Gardens themselves, only to get lost. Yep, we had followed a route map all the way down the island without issue and now struggled to getting the path right to exit the thing. It was not only ridiculous but embarrassing! We had to back track and criss-cross and sometimes ask for directions. Setting off the Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) did become a topic of conversation at one point. When we eventually did exit, it was a little longer than anticipated. If you were to ask what we saw in foliage and fauna – have no idea. The focus was on getting out of the damn thing! A consolation was that the view from the top of the cable car was nice, white caps on the harbour water indicating it being a little blustery. It’s not called Windy Wellington because of farting!
There we were, TA walkers in grungy apparel walking up a main street of downtown toward finely dressed pedestrians. Being polite later that evening, my cousin mentioned that we were kind of smelly before we left this morning. That would have explained some pedestrians over taking us walking in the same direction quite rapidly. Jeez, I wondered if the old work colleague we bumped into felt the same. I think it was a smile to see me versus a grimace from the hug I gave him, and being stinky!
The buzz of city busyness with folk going about their life was just manic. Somewhere along the way here, we lost Ben. So too did the pie-athon evaporate! We reached the waterfront and it too was active with people jogging the bay. Already thoughts of keeping the fitness level sustained beyond the trail are on the radar so as to keep the tube around the belly from expanding. The mountain bike seat is beckoning …
But there was plenty of fitness incorporated in the last 10 kms. We peeled off the bay and climbed up on to the slopes of Mt Victoria following Wellington’s ‘Southern Walkway’. We crested the ridgeline to view Wellington City from yesterday’s opposite bearing; thunder from the airport to the left where planes were coming and going; and to the front, the open blue sea got closer. Mt Albert was ascended for a last altitude photo from the trig before the descend down to the coastline for the last time.
It was timely to read some graffiti on a public toilet block, ‘Not all who wander are lost.’
There is a ship’s propeller positioned as a monument to a naval ship that was scuttled off the coast after it was de-commissioned. Nick had served on the thing when it was in active service up in the Gulf and as he stood there, he was in deep thought of reflection. Pollen in the eyes he said before we continued.
We reached Shortland Park and our last steps magnitised to the sea boundary fence. We found what we set out to do at the start of today. Huh, we weren’t lost afterall.
A stone cairn memorial marking the end (or beginning) of Te Araroa in the North Island.