30km, 9 hours
Sometimes when you pop off the trail for a meal or a bed, it’s hard to get back on it. I don’t mean psychologically, although that can sometimes be a challenge. I mean logistically. We try to hitch, try some more, walk and hitch and ultimately enter Longwood the long way, walking diagonally to meet the trail.
The diagonal is mostly uninteresting, except for the locals. A woman, in a two wheeled chariot behind a horse asks: “Are you country people?” Implicitly, she says, “I know you’re not.” She suggests watching her sheep get shorn down the road. I was a bit apprehensive since I thought this a bit of a work place intrusion, but that shows how little I know about shearers. I think they like to show off.
I don’t know if they know special sheep pressure points, but these sheep were just letting themselves get shorn. Perhaps the sheep head between the legs headlock had them convinced there was no way around it. Even more impressive than shearing a sheep in about a minute is that the fleece comes off in one piece. They laid it down to prove the point. And I have trouble doing that with an inert orange.
The forest clears twice and we have a vista to the sea. For the first time, we can see Bluff, our final destination four days walk away. Stewart Island looms large another 30-40km off shore. And the Fiordland mountains are visible to the west. Stunning and unforgettable views.