Thursday, March 9: Sunny, windy, not particularly warm
After all of yesterday’s excitement I thought I might need a bit more sleep than usual, but was up just after 8:00 giving Elizabeth enough time to show me some stuff for breakfast (Allbran with yoghurt & cream, a banana, some toast, one of those in-the-packet coffees) before she was off to her work.
I wanted to see a bit more stuff around town so I headed off to Victory Park to see if there was a Four Square there with reduced price sandwiches (no such luck, no supermarket, but various convenience stores) and there was a cricket match in action in the park. Back along Vanguard St I opted to have a look in countdown for some milk, apples, and chocolate for emergencies; they had PAMS/Woolworth’s instant peas ($2/200 g) so if the Heaphy/Wangapeka comes into effect that is something worth taking.
Strolled around town in the general direction of Doc, wanting to ask there about track conditions. Got a bit sidetracked by the friendly bloke. Three nights/four days for the Heaphy seems reasonable, with an early start for transport on Monday or Tuesday morning for $65 seems OK. Then the Wangapeka – apparently not much more than a route. But when I mentioned my experience on the Dusky, the bloke just laughed and said, “You’ll be right, mate”. Getting off at the eastern end was my main concern, and the transport costs for a single tramper could be exorbitant. But. There is a place in Tapawera (Settle Motel) which could pick me up from Price’s Clearing where there is a public phone (a couple of km along the road from the track end proper), which was included in the rather reasonable price for an overnight stay. From there they might take me back to Nelson; or I could ask whether anyone at the motel might take me back; or I could get a bus from Kohatu mid-afternoon. Now that’s the sort of local knowledge that is not readily obtainable on the net. I thought I’d give it a go.
On the way back stopped at KB Bakery, Hardy St for two smaller sausage rolls ($4.8) which I reheated in the microwave here and ate with Thai hot sauce in lieu of dead horse. Just as I was finishing Elizabeth arrived back. I took a look at dates, available places on the Heaphy, the weather, and was all for extending my stay until the 13th but in the meantime Elizabeth was snoozing upstairs. Tuesday looks like rain, but the high tide on Thursday (13:30) shouldn’t be an obstacle to getting off the Heaphy by around midday. Tried later when she was awake again and agreed to book her place via airbnb for an extra night. Can leave the suitcase here for a return on the 22nd.
Now the chips had to be put in their places. Booked Elizabeth’s room, then booked three nights on the Heaphy. Contact page on the transport operator’s website didn’t work so I sent them an email (TrekExpress, the Heaphy Bus seems to be the same company), but that should be OK because they already have a service scheduled for Monday @ 7:45. Looking at airbnb for places to stay in Karamea for two nights revealed only two places for $100 a night: One with an iffy shower and an issue with the septic tank; the other with plenty of bedrooms (perhaps an incipient motel/BNB), but both prices seemed quite high. While researching the Tapawera place I came across Atawhai Farmstay right at the Karamea end of the Wangapeka Track with reasonably priced rooms; but on emailing them the proprietors were not there on the dates required. Pity. Further research uncovered Rongo Backpackers (independent hostel) with double/twin rooms for $60-$65, which would be a good alternative in Karamea itself. That would at least enable some shopping to be done there. Elizabeth also suggested looking at the Last Resort.
The strategy now is to get confirmation of the transport to the track start; enquire at both Rongo and Tapawera that they have rooms free and whether Tapawera will do the necessary pickup; then decide whether a flexi ticket with InterCity could be bought and then cancelled for a refund if I can organise my own transport back from Tapawera. Finally, when it is clear whether one or two tracks will be walked, then finding a new operations centre in Nelson to do Queen Charlotte/Abel Tasman or Nelson Lakes from on return. Anyway it was time for a shower, and then for something to eat.
During my ramblings this morning I had gone past the hamburger joint from 2013 (Seabreeze, 51 Vanguard St) but they had no lamb burger this time around. Sought them out for dinner in any case; bacon & egg burger with half a scoop of chips for $10 was pretty unbeatable. The half a scoop of chips was sufficient on its own; the burger was piled quite high with lettuce (also beetroot) so that it came apart after two bites, but separating the two bun halves and having the egg with lettuce on the one half, eating the beetroot and tomato as they were and finishing off with the bacon & beef pattie on the other half worked.
Elizabeth has gone out to the theatre tonight and in the course of the afternoon I have taken a bracketed panorama of the cityscape as seen from the balcony and tried aligning individual frames with the Edge Overlay function of CHDK. Take the panorama as single shots and save each as an edge overlay (note the frame numbers/dates/times) then go back to the first image, load the first edge overlay (pressing halfshoot in CHDK mode freezes the overlay so that the camera can be swivelled), reposition the camera and shoot using the bracketing intervalometer. The number of shots agrees with the number predicted. Then blend the panoramas into a night&day…