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…

35. Karamea

Friday, March 17: Sunny and warm

Rongo

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…

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…

32. Perry Saddle – Mackay (Heaphy Track 2/4)

Tuesday, March 14: Rain overnight, clearing to cloudy and reasonably warm, light showers in mid afternoon

Tramping: 21.3 km

James Mackay Hut (Doc, $32)

The two brothers I was sharing with turned out to be excellent snorers but I managed to get some sleep at some point though it wasn’t very much. They did stop every now & then so that helped a little.

A couple of kea tried waking us around dawn and someone’s alarm went off @ 6:00; about then I shut the dormitory door as people were starting to use the kitchen. I snoozed a little while and eventually decided it was time to get up. Breakfast was – new – four pieces of Ryvita, the cheese (100 g), butter for the rye slices, coffee was two spoons of Nescafe, one of sugar, what remained of the cream, and one egg with salt. (By the afternoon the egg carton had disintegrated completely and a number of eggs were cracked & losing their shells. Perhaps next time smaller eggs.) Everything packed up neatly and I was ready to go soon after 8:30. Read more…

31. Brown River – Perry Saddle (Heaphy Track 1/4)

Monday, March 13: Heavy rain overnight, changeable during the day, some more rain in the evening

Tramping: 16.1 km

Perry Saddle Hut (Doc, $32)

Woke up around 5:30 and discovered that I hadn’t turned on the alarm, so I did so and it did go off on time, although it was not entirely necessary. Breakfast was a couple of wheatbix, a bit of allbran, some yoghurt and what was left of some milk with one of the packaged coffees.

Threw everything else into the suitcase and dragged it into the hall. All the food fit on top of the backpack and a plastic bag full of clothes was used to pad the pack. Put some muesli bars into the top compartment for a second lunch and was ready to go just after 7:00. Read more…

30. Nelson

Sunday, March 12: Heavier rain overnight, clearing to cloudy during the day, a bit of drizzle in the evening

Elizabeth’s

Another relaxed breakfast with Elizabeth and Friederike. I took it it was time to start reckoning up so I gave Elizabeth a copy of the book which I dedicated to her and she asked me to sign her visitors’ book which I was happy to do. Having secured Elizabeth’s permission to leave my case here for the tramps before moving elsewhere, I confirmed a booking which turned out to be at the end of the street. Then it was to be a morning for sightseeing. The ladies had had differing success tangoing last night, with the younger Friederike having a better time and Elizabeth rather frustrated at not being able to find enough men. Read more…

27. Nelson

Thursday, March 9: Sunny, windy, not particularly warm

Elizabeth’s

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.Read more…

20. Upper Spey – West Arm (Dusky Track 8/8) – Manapouri – Te Anau

Thursday, March 2: Overcast to begin with, a little variable, changing to sunny in Te Anau

Tramping: 13.5 km

Steamer’s Backpackers

My decision had been a long time in the making as well, but probably not as excruciating as the waking in anticipation of leaving that had people fiddling about from 4:00 onwards. Eventually Dave made a call of, “Time to get up,” at 6:00 and up everyone was except for me. That meant that the first to leave were out just after 7:00, the last around 7:30, and me as the rear guard @ 8:00.

I had decided to join my new group on the ferry back today, and not spend the night on the track as previously planned. The weather was not great for one, and while I could get little done in what was left of the afternoon, I could at least have a shower and eat something halfway decent, in order to get some serious work done on Friday and Saturday.

The plan was to reach the first pair of walkwires at around 9:00; have an hydration break @ 10:00; reach the last set around 11:00, and by that time I would know whether I would get the 13:45 boat or not. Read more…

19. Kintail – Upper Spey (Dusky Track 7/8)

Wednesday, March 1: Cloud cover in the morning, fog in the mountains, becoming sunnier in the afternoon, a bit cooler

Tramping: 7.1 km

Upper Spey Hut (Doc)

“Seven o’clock, people,” was the waking call for the second last day of tramping, and the bottom bunk and the couple on the top one were soon up and about, and I spent a little more time in bed until I was sure that Matt & Christoph were also awake, and then I joined the others. Breakfast this morning was cheese instead of salami, and two eggs were there for the taking. When packing everything, Gort couldn’t find his rubbish, but after everyone had left, except for the last three of us, there was a rubbish bag with an empty deet container and some dental floss in it, so I picked it up on my way out to return to him. Read more…