I spent a day in Wellington to plan the first part of the South Island. The first 30 or so days needs to be planned carefully as there are 5 sections, from 5 to 8 days in length, without access to shops to resupply. So some bags of food need to be parceled up and sent ahead for pick up later. At this stage I decided to come out of the Richmond Ran=ges to Nelso where my brother lives. From there I would purchase food to send ahead to 3 different places en route.
I am moving into the much less populated part of New Zealand. There are only 4 cities and we do not walk through any of them. Also we go through very few of the small towns. So parcels of food must be sent ahead and there is quite a bit of hitch hiking off the trail to resupply.
I don’t enjoy this planning and really miss Frances who did enjoy it. Anyway I have a plan now and left Wellington with 6 days of food on board which would see me through to Havelock.
Also while in Wellington I had dinner with my friend Margaret. We had met over 40 years ago when we were new mothers and supported each other through the hard years of having babies and toddlers. Between us we have 9 children and 15 grandchildren so there was lots to talk about.
Queen Charlotte Track
Friday morning I was on the Interislander ferry with about 12 other TA walkers. It is a 3.5 hour trip across Cook Strait. We had a calm sailing and as it is school holidays and peak tourist season, the boat was full.
On arriving at Picton we all made our way to the mail boat for a 2.5 hour trip through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds to Ships Cove. I had a wee sleep on the boat so was ready to go when we landed.
Meretoto/Ship Cove was James Cook’s favourite New Zealand base during his three voyages of exploration so there is a monument there to him. I took a quick photo, used the toilet then headed off for a 1.5 hour easy walk to School House Bay campsite.
There was about 12 of us at the idyllic campsite by the sea and I slept quite well.
The next day was 22 km day to the next DOC campground. I was first to leave at 7.30 am and first to arrive at 2.30 pm. That included an hours break for coffee and cake at the posh Furneaux Lodge. I also paid $6 for a packet of chippie to take for my munchies tonight. This lodge is infamous because 2 young people went missing after a New Years Eve party here 1998. Someone was convicted with their murder, even though a bodies were never found. Many people still believe that he was innocent and that the police got it very wrong. I felt a bit uneasy being here but coffee in the sun can’t be beaten.
This track was the easiest so far on the trail. 100s of people do all of it in up to 5 or 6 days or just parts. There are boat pick ups and drop offs all along the 71km track. You can also have your pack carried by boat between camps or lodges. If you want to follow in the easiest of my footsteps, then this is the track for you.
I enjoyed the walking on my own lost in my own thoughts.
I had 2 more nights on the track, in my tent at Camp Bay and then Cowshed Bay. The track continued to be easy going with stunning views, lovely native bush a lots of Wekas.
Wekas are cheeky little birds who are very inquisitive and like to steal things from hikers. There are plenty of warnings around about keeping your things safe but they are persistent little creatures and not afraid of humans. I was just leaving a lunch shelter one day when a week took off down the track with someone’s lunch bag. 4 people ran off after it but I was on my way and didn’t find out whether they managed to retrieve the lunch or not.
As the track winds around the bays there are pockets of holiday homes, each with a boat or two, and B’n’Bs, lodges and posh hotels. I stayed at the basic DOC campgrounds that have a cooking shelter, a toilet and a tap. Most if the people staying were Te Araroa walkers including
- Anouk from the Netherlands and her parents who are walking with her for 3 weeks
- A German couple who honeymooned in NZ 27 years ago and have returned to walk the South Island part of the TA
- 2 young giggling German girls who seemed to have skipped more of the trail than they have walked
- A shy American lad (unusal)
- A kiwi couple from Auckland
The last day was a 21km walk to Anakiwa and the first half of the day it was raining li so I took off early and went as fast as I could to keep warm, managing to finish in 6 hours. I was pleased with myself as the signs said 8 hours. I was spurred on by the thoughts of a hot coffee at a cafe when I arrived. However there was only a coffee cart that took only cash. And I had $3, not enough for coffee so I made do with a cup of tea which was not the same.
My cousin, Glenis and her husband Tim were staying in their 5 wheeler at the camp ground in Havelock, which was another days walk for me, mostly along a gravel road. So I accepted their offer of a pick up so I could spend some time with them while resupplying in Havelock. We also gave the 2 giggling Germans a ride part of the way.
I spent Tuesday yakking with Glenis and we went for a drive out to Canvastown camping area which is a really nice secluded gem of a camp area near a crystal clear river. Lots of sand flies though. This was the start of the sandflies which would drive us all to distraction for the next couple of months
I picked up a few supplies for the next section and did my usual camp duties of washing clothes, updating website and having a pub meal.