Under the cover of darkness, I arose to go sit at the hut forms and table to watch the sunrise over the Richmond Ranges trail.

An opportunity to just reflect on what had been.

In solitude.

In silence.

In between Pip snoring.

Night faded into morning.

One by one, others awoke.

And then a new end day began.

A selfie before the final descent towards St Arnaud – full respect to the Richmond Ranges behind us.

We followed the 5.5km four-wheel vehicle track down to an old cob cottage, then it was further 1km forest track to a car park.

Our return to this section of the Te Araroa Trail was complete.

The Rainbow Valley where thoughts turned to perhaps a bike packing adventure possibility.
Back on flat terra firma. Lighter packs too.

Emotions of pure elation felt.

The minds, bodies and souls stretched as far as they were going to be.

Back on tar seal with thumbs out, we hitched a ride into St Arnaud.  It’s where our third bedroom was waiting for us.  And fresh clothes.

The Alpine Lodge allowed us to get cleaned up before we met up with Iain from IT who had walked out the day before.

Jane and Pip had arrived by then.  They too had managed to catch a hitch hike.

We exchanged stories from the trail and heard about Iain’s solo bit after he left us at Mid Wairoa Hut.

All three of them were resting up for another day or two at St Arnaud in preparation for the next part of the TA, the Sabine-Traverse Saddle.  We had to start the return drive back towards Christchurch.

Our hesitation to leave was more because of jealousy that they were continuing, and our adventure had come to an end.

However, we had already tramped the Sabine-Traverse Saddle ourselves.  It was our training in readiness to knock off the Richmond Ranges.  Over Christmas of 2019 and New Year of 2020.

We knew exactly what they were in for.  As well as up for.

We will pick up the next section of the Te Araroa Trail possibly later this year.

Farewell hugs were given, and then we were on our way.  And home to Christchurch.

To recover as quickly as we can.

The first week of March, we set off to walk the Old Ghost Road Trail on the West Coast.  Five days, four nights.  Chaperoning seven others who when we put it out there, climbed on board to join us.

Yep, a new Ruru adventure on the radar.

And with the word ‘ghost’ in the trail name “Old Ghost Road” …

The end.

A hello and farewell catch up with Iain from IT. We head home, Iain headed onwards to do more of the Te Araroa Trail – South Island.