Well, we finally did it. We took a zero day, which we haven’t done since we started hiking on the South Island 35 days ago!
To be clear, we take a lot of “neros” (near-zero days with just a few kilometers of hiking). We usually feel quite refreshed by the neros and get all our town tasks done (showers, calorie-loading with real food, laundry, more food, Internet time, resupplying for the next section, more eating, etc).
But it was time to take a zero. We have no agenda with this trail. We have a flight booked out of New Zealand for April 17 and we will certainly finish the rest of the Te Araroa by then. Therefore, we can really take our time as much as we want with the 500 kilometers (roughly 300 miles) left.
J asked me the other day if I am ready to be done hiking. I didn’t know how to answer. I will admit, I am tired–both my body and mind. And I keep thinking we are in the homestretch. But, 300 miles still means a lot of hills to climb, rivers to negotiate and maps /notes to follow. I can now answer J and say I am not ready to be done hiking just yet. A zero day of sitting around can do a lot for a girl, it seems.
So anyway, we planned to take our first South Island zero day in Wanaka. Wanaka is the first real “town” we’ve come through. The rest of the places have been much smaller. Wanaka also had a Cinema Paradiso, a movie theater that also serves food with the film and we heard great things about the little theater. I really wanted to see “Wild,” so this was perfect. Sitting on my butt watching a movie about hiking while eating junk food has been my day dream during the last few days/weeks of hiking.
Except that when we checked out the movie schedule Wednesday morning when we got service, “Wild” was playing everyday EXCEPT for Thursday, our planned zero day. Go figure. We rallied and decided to hoof it 35 kilometers (21 miles) to Wanaka on Wednesday in time for the 5:45pm showing. We got there at 4:30pm with enough time for a quick shower (purely for the benefit of the other theater patrons).
For the record, I liked the movie, but J and Kevin thought it was just so-so.
Our zero day on Thursday consisted of a whole lot of nothing and hanging out at Wanaka Backpaka, a hostel overlooking beautiful Lake Wanaka. We did do a whole lot of eating. We sat on our butts most of the day to be sure not to burn too many of those precious calories!
The other awesome thing we did on our day off was meet up with 2 friends from the states who just finished hiking the South Island. We met Fern Toe and Thor on our 2011 SOBO thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. It was awesome swapping stories of our adventures and dreaming of future wanderlust possibilities. Read about Fern & Thor’s adventures on their blog!
Fern Toe and Thor also brought us treats … They know the magnitude of trail magic in the form of food.
So a zero day well deserved and well spent. The next section should only take us 3-4 days, then we will be in Queenstown, an even bigger town. We are actually planning to take ANOTHER zero day there because there is a Te Araroa hiker get-together for St. Patrick’s Day.