Different means of travel, different speeds. This sort of put trip planning off a little. On the other hand, not having to spend a whole day slogging on towards some distant goal had its benefits, not least of which was enjoying the scenery. More could have, should have been done, but I’ll happily leave that for another time.
The boat was no doubt fast (and special thanks again to Marlborough Sounds Adventures for a very reasonably priced 5-day hire and return transport – $240 per person), possibly due to the fact that it was not packed to the hilt. A later trip in western Sweden using plastic boats and carrying all supplies for twelve days proved to be somewhat slower. Read more…
Granted: The short stay on Stewart Island was designed for a kayak-in/kayak-out version of the Southern Circuit in five days:
Oban, Golden Bay – Rakeahua Hut (kayak, pick up by water taxi in the evening)
Rakeahua Hut – Doughboy Bay
Doughboy Bay – Mason Bay
Mason Bay – Freshwater
Freshwater – Oban, Golden Bay (kayak, delivery in the morning).
Whether or not that would have been realistic – especially from the kayaking side – is another question. The tides were right, but not spending a day on the water getting to Rakeahua would have meant hanging around a whole day for the water taxi to take me there.
Topo Map with GPS
In any case, having no partner for either kayaking arm meant doing a trip out to Mason Bay on foot, even if the last leg of the return journey could be undertaken by water taxi. Read more…
An additional degree of freedom when travelling was the use of “satellite tours” where a stop would be used as a starting point for a longer tour, with an intermediate base. This meant carrying less luggage to the intermediate point, but it also required a good deal of planning and organisation.
A classical tour, such as the Dusky Track, required only a place to leave most of the luggage, while taking only what was absolutely necessary (for eight days!) on the tour. Since the starting point was Te Anau, and most accommodation hosts there are used to dealing with tourists going on longer or shorter tours, then it was just a question of asking whether storage facilities were available. At Steamers Beach/Lakeview Holiday Park, a vehicle can be parked safely for $10, and another $10 will get you a locker for as long as you need it. Everything else was packed into the backpack weighing in @ 18 kg for the tour.
The first real satellite tour, however, had already been undertaken on Stewart Island. Here the idea was to spend one night in the secondary base at Oban before beginning and after ending the tramp across the island. This would mean leaving a small bag with some fresh clothes at the hostel in Oban, as well as leaving the main suitcase in Invercargill. As there is a strict weight limit on luggage on the plane (15 kg) some of the tramping food would have to be bought in Oban (not much more expensive than the mainland, but anyhow). And this is how it went: Read more…
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
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…
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…
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 ($6, Doc)
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…
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…
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…
Saturday, March 25: Overcast with drizzle in the morning, lighter rain developing in the course of the afternoon & evening
Very quiet the whole night and morning. I was up around 8:30 expecting there to be a rush for breakfast but apart from an obviously set breakfast table, nothing else was stirring. I had the end three pieces of bread as vegemite on toast, some fruit juice & coffee.
Preparations for the Queen Charlotte Track sea kayak tour were beginning to take priority. Since neither toothpaste nor coffee will be enough for five days, replacements had to be bought from Four Square. Had sent off emails to one of the attendees of Skeptics in the Pub who is a biology teacher, and there was some interest from her for a class of 14-year-olds. Also sent a message to Gold about the Cosmic Shambles performance (will also have to message Dell). Got an OK for a place to stay near Birkenhead and back-calculated the time from the airport to there at 1½ hours and gave the hostess an ETA, which was appreciated. Read more…
Had a restful sleep until 8:00 and then started on a simple breakfast of two rounds of ham sandwiches with coffee. Had a little discussion with the American couple who were leaving later today. Cecile was a bit taken aback by being asked for $30 for the shuttle to the Heaphy and decided to hitch hike it.
Went down to the i-site for some basic internet, met a Belgian woman, Christelle, just off the Heaphy who was weighing up the pros & cons of the various overnight possibilities and she was asking me about Rongo which I could recommend. Then it was over to the hardware store, but their gas cans were just as expensive as in the supermarket and they only had citronella mozzie coils for exclusive outdoor use, and probably not as effective at killing sandflies as the genuine ones are. Anyway that meant going to the supermarket where peu a peu I was collecting stuff, so I decided to make a whole job of it and buy everything I needed. There was a sultana-nut mix (“trail mix” which corresponds closely to the German Studentenfutter) for $4 for 400 g, a salami from a local butcher that appeared to be genuinely dry, and wasn’t much more expensive than the prepackaged salami on special offer. That really only left some OJ (mixed juice was cheaper & chosen), the mozzie coils were nondescript, so were left out, some Pams muesli bars were bought & will suffice, some “bacon” bought for lunch today and breakfast tomorrow, to which only two hardboiled eggs from the old batch had to be added, both double-yolkers, then some beer for tonight. Then it was time to head back to the hostel. Read more…