Over the years, on buses, at motorcamps, in backpackers, I’ve stumbled across people spending their two weeks’ worth of holidays trying to see all of New Zealand, such is the call of the place desired by many. And yet here I am again, standing in front of the expanse of two months, squeezing the days into plans and realising how much there is still to do after five trips down under. But not to worry. There will be plenty of new stuff on this trip.
First of all, the dates. I will be arriving in Auckland on Saturday, February 11, 2017 and leaving from there on Wednesday, April 5. The whole rest of the trip will be on the South Island. I’ll explain how this unusual constellation came about in a later blog, but suffice to say that I will be starting at the bottom of the bottom end, in Stewart Island after a brief sojourn in Invercargill, to do the Southern Circuit. This is the last of the major tracks on Stewart that I will be doing. The aim is to kayak on and off the track, and do four days of walking in between. There’ll also be an extra day for preparation before the tramp , and afterwards as well, so, weather permitting, I’ll also have a chance to do some of the local strolls. Still searching for partners for the kayaking (which can be done with a water taxi). In any case, the alternative to kayaking is water taxiing onto the track, which is simply not just as much fun.
Then it’ll be via Invercargill briefly to Te Anau to start the Dusky Track from the south (9 days), and, hopefully, kayak back over Lake Manapouri via Hope Arm and the Monument (2 days). Here, too, I require at least one other person wanting to do the track at all, if the water taxi is going to operate. Still, plenty of time to go. And the alternatives here are the Great Walks not yet achieved: The Routeburn and the Kepler in their entirety. And, of course, if the kayaking wasn’t to be fulfilled, I could take the nicest, sunniest day to kayak with someone to the Monument for the remake of the 1974 picture.
So much for the short program – as you can see without a car so far. Then it’ll be across the country for a couple of days in Dunedin, perhaps again with Skeptics in the Pub, Science Communication, and who knows what else will want me for a talk. Then a flight to Nelson where the rest of the time will be spent.
Plenty to do here as well, although three main goals can be outlined. First, the Heaphy Track, the only remaining Great Walk that I haven’t seen anything of. Possibly also the Nelson Lakes. (I know, I know. A tenth Great Walk is being opened in the course of 2017, in the limestone country around Punakaiki, Pancake Rocks. But I think I’ll leave up to the DOC to get its work done, and for the crowds to test everything, before I give it a go, possibly in 2021.) Then there are at least two paddling options that could be undertaken: Abel Tasman, and the Queen Charlotte Track. And, of course, a lot more, but that is going to take some dedicated on-the-ground preparation.
As for the other preparations: Plenty has been done. I’ll introduce the Ratsack at some point, and may well try one out with kea to see what they make of it. (And I won’t be so stupid as to put all of my food in it for the kea.) CHDK made at least one breathtaking step forward in the last two years (unfortunately, too late to be of any use for the Whanganui River Journey, but nonetheless useful for all future photography), and I’ll take an assortment of cameras and dry bags for use. I think I’ve finally solved the question of securing the camera onto the deck, so that multiple failures are required to lose the thing. I’m still struggling with one or two questions from the last trip, but I hope that they, too, are solved and I can present some solutions in the coming weeks.
This year’s schedule will be a bit more relaxed than previous ones. Expect a post a week until I’m back.