Photo (c) Wynston Cooper 2014
The forecast rain didn't appear and instead we had a cloudless sky all morning and some wispy cirrus late in the day. We left Winton just after 9.00 with a small group of locals who accompanied us to the edge of town and then we walked on through the crisp autumnal sunshine Northwards across Southland. For the first couple of hours there were some refreshing bends in the road and three hours into the day's walk the first hill of the Hikoi. We stopped for lunch at 1.00 pm and then there was a series of relentlessly long straights before we completed the 30 km to Dipton a little after 3.00 pm. The little grocery shop in Dipton serves the largest and best icecreams in New Zealand. We struggled through their "single" scoop cone and contemplated buying a treble scoop one not so much to eat it as just to see what it looked like.
We were picked up, just as we were finishing, by Sarah Stewart, our host and taken to the farm she runs with her husband Chris on a hilltop above Dipton, looking North over miles of pastureland and forest to the far mountains. One of the recurrent themes of this trip has been hospitality. We have been treated with such generosity and we have stayed with beautiful people living in beautiful places. It has been humbling and enriching. We sat at dinner tonight, the four of us and Benjamin Brock Smith who had travelled down today, with Sarah and Chris, and also Chris' parents Garth and Adrienne who are well known in our diocese. The farm cooked meal and the wine and the conversation were all warm and generously plentiful and re-creating.
We have developed our walking pattern pretty well. We walk at about 5 kph: fast enough to cover the distance in good time but not fast enough to damage anything. We walk for 2 hour stints, and a couple of stops for rest and food is seeing us complete the day in around 6 hours. Tomorrow we head for Lumsden and the distance is shorter: about 23 km but there is a hill.