After a very early ferry to Picton, the trail picks up on the glorious – and easy – Queen Charlotte
It's an easy super-highway above turquoise inlets. Blissful stumbles on a stealth campsite at a lookout.
After Iwituaroa Reserve and road walk to Havelock for mussels, Blissful stays with trail angels.
It's easy road walk to the emerald pools of the Pelorus River and sandfly hell.
It's a steep ascent to the Totara Saddle through a magical "Hobbit Haunt" of beech forest.
A brilliant day in Nelson with new friends from Minnesota who found me on MPR.
Huge forested hills seem to grow out of turquoise water in a series of golden sand inlets and bays.
Blissful heads steeply up to the ridge with a mountain carpet for miles and magical beech forests.
Enjoying the view after a steep climb, there is yet another mountain to climb on eroded scree.
It's steep up to Purple Top then steep back down to the Wairoa River with sidling and crossings.
The landscape changes abruptly in the dry Red Hills, with rocks in bright green and red.
The Maitland track passes through an otherworldly beech forest, up and over to St. Arnaud for pizza.
DOC told me to keep moving even as the forecast called for severe gale and squalls.
I fall after Travers Pass bending my pole and ego, then it's through magical beech forest to Blue Lake.
We have spectacular views on avalanche fields around Lake Constance to the pass.
Wild horses are driven up the grasslands in the windy valley and we need to hid in the thorn trees.
It's easy to Boyle Village and two men offer to stay together for the dangerous river crossings ahead.
The Harper Pass Track on flats and forest leads to a soak in a hot springs filled by waterfalls.
Harper Pass takes me down an eroded landslip to several tricky crossings of the Taramakau.
A long day of sidling and crossings is followed by a walk up rapids and rocks on the Deception River.
The remaining trail of roots, mud and stream crossings is through heavy mist.
I take a well-deserved zero day itching sandfly bites as the rain crashes down.
We call an SOS for an injured hiker and I learn a friend from day 1 also wiped out here.
It's a hot and short walk along rocky riverbed that's hard on the feet with multiple river crossings.
A couple gives me a ride around the impassable Rakaia river and become lifelong friends.
This section is magical on river-as-trail and over a saddle to a valley of giant clouds.
Running out of food, the local ranch owner gives me enough food to cross the Rangitata.