This F1-podium-style celebration wasn’t that casual, and drew a little attention from the various families visiting the signpost with their kids. Two smelly English hikers screaming and pouring fake champagne over their heads, probably wasn’t the peaceful afternoon by the seaside they’d had planned ;) But most seemed happy to be the unwitting audience for the show – asking about what we’d done, and shaking our hands. Several even asked if they could have their pictures taken with us, haha! Brilliant :) You often get a variety of responses from people when you tell them about ‘the walk’. From blank confusion, to quiet suspicion and disbelief, to huge smiles and hugs. Overwhelmingly the Kiwi’s we’ve met seem super chuffed that we’d take so much time adventuring through their country, taking in the details, and venturing to the less visited places. We’ve been cheered on all the way by the lovely people we’ve met in huts, in campsites, up mountains, in pubs, and even by the side of the road. What an awesome bunch the Kiwis are, and what an amazing country. Can’t imagine a more interesting country to walk across!
Mixed emotions this afternoon, I’ve been feeling a bit melancholy for a while now, but even more so today. Excited to finish, but not wanting it to end, getting to the end, but then wondering ‘did we really earn it?’ Of course we have, I know that, we’ve tramped through all kinds of terrain and overcome all sorts of difficulties, not least of which getting Nicky fit ;) But in the end it’s bugged the shit out of me not sticking more closely to the official route, we arrived in Bluff by bus for christ’s sake! In retrospect I think we’ve maybe strayed a bit too far a bit too often, even though many of my highlights have been on our detours, they have definitely stollen a bit of thunder from the triumphant finish, like I felt on the CDT. That self-satisfying feeling that you’ve walked across an entire country every step of the way. I wasn’t even keen on the idea of coming down to Bluff at all once we realised there wasn’t time to walk here, I was trying to persuade Nicky to spend our remaining days hiking south of Queenstown then looping back via the Routeburn. But Nicky wanted to see the signpost, so down we came. I’m glad we did now, all that’s forgotten when you have a face full of champagne while spinning around a pole :)