Oreti Beach

After my much needed rest day in Invercargill, in which I hobbled round like a very lame hobbled thing, I strapped the pack on for the first time to tramp up to Riverton. The pack itself isn’t bad – comfy, and felt quite light. But after 10 hours of walking I was to feel quite differently…

First, another hated section of road walking. Boo. Boo! A couple of hours out past Invercargill airport and down to the famous Oreti beach, where Burt Monroe trained on The World’s Fastest Indian. It was a lovely beach, and I don’t say that just because it wasn’t tarmac. It really was – and better, people were using it as intended: walking, dog-walking, kite-surfing, swimming… It was also nice and easy to walk on, the sand well-compacted but not too hard.

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My problem was the creek. I knew that halfway down the beach there would be a creek that could be quite tricky under the wrong conditions. I’d read Jacob’s blog about Te Araroa, and he stumbled into Riverton at 10 pm, after having to wait for the tide to go out enough for him to cross, and even then it was up to his waist. Besides, the people I met on the beach gave me ominous warnings: “Watch out for the creek…”

The tide was out, but I didn’t want to take any chances, and so I motored along the beach singing Motown at the top of my lungs to give me a beat to walk to (hey, there was no-one around to suffer my voice but me). Later than I had hoped, I came to the creek, stripped from the waist down, and waded across – only to find that the water only came a couple of inches above my ankles.

It was not long after this, kind of exhausted already, that Oreti turned slightly evil. Even coming across a seal sunning itself on the sand could only cheer me up for a few minutes. I could see Riverton in the distance, seeming close enough that I could reach out and touch it. I tell you, it didn’t seem one step closer for the next three hours. I kept thinking to myself “Must be there soon!” but it was like I was walking on a treadmill rather than a beach.

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Calling up the Globe Backpackers in Riverton gave me some breathing space – they had a music night on and so were going to be open very late. Which was good, as I finally staggered in about 8 pm, feeling as if I had knives in my feet. It took me all of three minutes to drop the bag and head for the bar – I’d been dreaming about beer for hours.

And can I just say, the Globe is a fantastic place to stay. More like an old-fashioned family pub than a backpackers, it was friendly and cheap and delightful in every respect. I immediately booked myself in for two nights, because damned if I was walking another step the next day. (Although, surprisingly, the next day my feet were fine – certainly not like they’d been in Invercargill, where I was practically hobbled. But being lazy I took the rest day anyway. Hey – the idea of this blog is to get fit, not get fit in one quick horrible swoop).

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