48. Cannibal Cove – Ship Cove (Queen Charlotte 5/5) – Picton

Thursday, March 30: Low but light cloud in the morning clearing to sunny, hot & dry by the time we reached Picton; fogging over in the early evening

Sea kayaking: 8.3 km

Jugglers’ Rest

Graham & Warwick were quite circumspect this morning and although I could hear them talking I dozed on. No cramps in the night, even despite having to manoeuvre past the stuff in the tent (it was better organised this time, but the head end had changed, and there was a bit of a slope which caused me to slide down the tent in the course of the night).

Christelle’s alarm failed to go off for the first time, but we were in no particular hurry, so getting up @ 7:30 we were greeted by the empty space left behind by Graham & Warwick’s tents and no one else was about. Eventually the others were up as well, with many of them out for a skinny dip to start the day. Read more…

47. Blumine Island – Cannibal Cove (Queen Charlotte 4/5)

Wednesday, March 29: Cloudy overnight, becoming a bit lighter in the course of the day, freshening south wind, and rain showers in the later afternoon & early evening

Sea kayaking: 16.4 km

Cannibal Cove ($6, Doc)

Graham & Warwick were up extremely early to practise for getting up early on Thursday morning (their water taxi leaves at 8:30), as well as some very vocal wekas, and we slept in a bit until Christelle’s alarm clock went off at 7:00.

The weather was not promising for the deck camera, so everything was packed away until at least lunchtime. We were also quite early and Christelle was eager to go & not so much interested in the historical walks, so we pushed off just after 9:30. Read more…

46. Kumutoto Bay – Blumine Island (Queen Charlotte 3/5)

Tuesday, March 28: Cloudy to begin with, less wind than the night before, becoming sunny and fine with little to no wind by the early afternoon

Sea kayaking: 21.9 km

Blumine Island campsite (Doc $6)

During the night I had cramped again and again, first in the left calf, then in the right. Nothing too serious or permanent, but in my contortions I had bent my glasses and trying to fix them I dislodged one lens. Managed to get everything back together and did get some sleep in the end.

We were up at around 7:30 and ready to go just on two hours later. The sea was much calmer, although the weather wasn’t promising that much. I set the camera up for time lapse and it did something (have since discovered that M mode had to be set on the A470 to be able to trigger continuous mode). We wanted to get to Ratimera and decide further from there. For the first bit Graham & Warwick were following us 10-15 minutes behind but they didn’t take the turn to Ratimera and we didn’t see them until later. I used the Travel Buddy pillow to support my back and that worked very well as long as I put the footpegs back one stop again. Read more…

45. Mistletoe Bay – Kumutoto Bay (Queen Charlotte 2/5)

Monday, March 27: Foggy to begin with, clearing about lunchtime, with a lively east wind coming up in the afternoon, a couple of clouds

Sea kayaking: 19.9 km

Kumutoto Bay Campsite ($6, Doc)

It had rained a little during the night, but nothing too serious and when we were up at 7:30 the bay was very still and shrouded in fog. The door to the kitchen had been & remained closed for the night so our food was ready for eating. Christelle offered up her porridge and I supplied some sugar. We took all that she had left of it, microwaved it, and it was enough for the two of us. I put some condensed milk in as well.

Everything had to be packed up: The tents as wet as they were, then everything carted down to the boat. I had estimated high tide @ 11:30 and it was just on 9:30 so that whatever time we decided to leave the tide would be highest as near as dammit. I elected for trying the camera and its mount out and got everything together, except that I had forgotten how to put the camera into continuous mode (yet again) and left the camera running for the first part of the trip without taking any photos. Read more…

44. Picton – Mistletoe Bay (Queen Charlotte 1/5)

Sunday, March 26: A little rain to begin with and towards lunch time, stopping in the afternoon and clearing somewhat towards evening.

Sea kayaking: 19.4 km

Mistletoe Bay Campsite (Doc, $16)

There was one busybody up at around 6:30, and the alarm went off on time, so I went for a shower, finished the fruit juice, had a coffee, and then started packing. Was ready to go by 8:00 and was at Christelle’s hostel at ten past; then we were quickly at MSA, greeted by Alicia who was taking us through the hoops. First there was a safety video, which was mostly fairly common sense, some poor shooting, and one detailed commentary on wind ferrying which was technically right over the top.

Then the discussion about trip planning with Alicia started. I was fairly sure about stopping @ Davies Bay to begin with; an alternative was offered @ Mistletoe (apparently $10 more expensive, but with a camp kitchen). Ratimera and Blumine could follow, and Cannibal Cove, even, would be possible for the last night, and we could get to Ship Cove by 2:30 for the water taxi back. I got a few tips about alternative water taxi stops that we might be picked up from. Anyway with the combination of my spot and Christelle’s cell phone we should be able to arrange something if things go wrong. Read more…

38. Stone – Price’s Clearing (Wangapeka 3+4/4) – Tapawera

Monday, March 20: Mountain clouds to begin with, becoming fine and sunny

Tramping: 19.9 km

Tapawera Settle Motorcamp, 19 Tadmore Valley Rd, Tapawera 7055, cabin ($75, including on-demand transport from the track end), hosts: Colin & Tina

One last attempt at finding the glasses last night by waiting until it was dark and using the headlamp to detect any glint was not successful, but there was a probe standing around this morning, so after breakfast I made the very last attempt also, alas, to no avail. After which there was nothing much left to do except pack everything up, sweep the floor, take out the ash (not very much, the hard red wood took a long time to get to burn, but when it did there was a lot of heat and not much ash) and I was ready to go by 9:45.

The very first part of the track was a bit of river skipping but after a bridge the mule route took over and it was very high and dry over the river, and quite flat. About halfway to the huts there were a couple of stretches of mud but apart from that everything was OK. I wasn’t pushing it and arrived at King’s Creek for lunch after around 2½ hours, after briefly considering staying at Cecil King’s Hut (historical) with its two bunks. Read more…

37. Taipo – Stone (Wangapeka 2/4)

Sunday, March 19: Cloudy with some drizzle to begin with, becoming finer with a little sun shining through

Tramping: 18.6 km

Stone Hut (Doc)

The only noise in the night was the wood burning out, towards dawn some birds appeared (weka? kea?), and I slept through until about 8:00. Time for ryvita and salami but noticed too late that the salami had garlic in it and wasn’t particularly sliceable. In any case breakfast was soon dealt with and everything packed away for an early start.

Swept out the hut just prior to leaving, and the track was moderate. At about the point where the track to Helicopter Flat Hut left I met a couple from Sydney who were doing the Leslie-Karamea (to be followed then by the Heaphy from west to east, and the Abel Tasman). No one else on the track. Read more…

36. Wangapeka Road (Track End) – Taipo (Wangepeka 1/4)

Saturday, March 18: Sunny to begin with, clouding over in the mountains, but then sunny again

Tramping: 20.3 km

Taipo Hut (Doc)

Time to pack up again. I was up just after 8:00; Sally had already left. I made two bacon sandwiches for breakfast, forgot the last of the size 8 eggs until afterwards and in the course of the morning managed to finish off both the milk and the fruit juice. Another couple of sandwiches were made for lunch on the track, then everything was ready to be packed.

Brian, my driver for today, wanted to know whether we could leave a bit before 11:00, which was fine by me; I only needed to check whether the ATM in the Four Square was going to be coughing up anything at all; after one last failed attempt I asked and was told that foreign credit cards weren’t honoured, so that’s that. Back at the hostel I packed everything up and the backpack was suspiciously light. Read more…

34. Heaphy – Track End (Heaphy Track 4/4) – Karamea

Thursday, March 16: Some clouds in the valley at dawn, otherwise quite sunny

Tramping: 15.6 km

Rongo Backpackers, Waverley St, Karamea, $65 for twin as single (independent hostel)

I slept through from midnight to 6:00, and then some snoring started, so it was difficult to get back to sleep and although no one else in our dorm was making a move I decided to get up around 7:00.

Cheese was still good, milk was about to run out, but there are enough coffee, sugar and ryvita to last for the second leg. I had everything dry (including the sox I had brought in the night before and hung in the common room), packed away, and ready to go shortly after 8:15 and was on the track a few minutes later. Read more…

33. Mackay – Heaphy (Heaphy Track 3/4)

Wednesday, March 15: Sunny right from the beginning with some residual cloud

Tramping: 18.2 km

Heaphy Hut (Doc, $32)

I was up at 7:00, the preorganised breakfast was quickly dealt with. As there was finally a view of the mouth of the Heaphy River that was stable, a bracketed pan was on the agenda, while the spot was sending its message. Had to put the tripod up on the table on the deck to get a reasonable view but no one was complaining.

Was able to leave just after 9:00 & catch up with everyone else in the course of the morning. Track was very flat, except for a couple of trees that had fallen over & had to be detoured. Was able to get a couple of shots of the track, an inquisitive weka, and the confluence of the Lewis & Heaphy Rivers. Lewis Hut was soon reached and that was time for lunch (just under three hours). Had a look around the river and thought I could take another bracketed pan of the bridge before heading off; only, finding the way back to the track (and onto the bridge) was a little adventurous, but possible. Read more…