Debriefing: Stewart Island

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

Still plenty to explore: The land, and the sea
Still plenty to explore: The land, and the sea. Stewart Island: Oban – Mason Bay, Topo+GPS (102 downloads)
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…

8. Mason Bay – Freshwater

Saturday, February 18: Sunny & hot

Tramping: 14.0 km

Freshwater Hut (Doc)

Managed to sleep in until about 9:00 (the others only had to get up to catch their flight back), so the morning was rather relaxed packing. I was ready to go soon after 10:00 and planned on making a number of hydration breaks along the way.

Stopped first of all at the homestead for a sip, then charged along the somewhat muddy section, which, however, was rapidly drying out, so that most of the mud required no major detours or planning. Ran into a German, Frank, who was doing Freshwater-Mason Bay and back again in a day, followed by an American couple who were staying at Mason Bay tonight and wanting to be back tomorrow morning for the water taxi at 9:00. Finally, a Dutch woman who was doing a more leisurely pace but had everything with her including a bed roll. After that just empty track. Read more…

7. Freshwater – Mason Bay – along the beach & back

Friday, February 17: Clouds overnight clearing in the morning to fine & sunny (hot) in the course of the afternoon

Tramping: 22.6 km

Mason Bay Hut (Doc)

Track to Mason Bay
Track to Mason Bay

Steve & Elliot were up and about by around 6:30 but not making much progress. I soon joined them to have my breakfast and was over to the boatsman before they were, to find out how the future connections would work. My trip out was no problem for 9:00 on Sunday, but I had to vouch for Søren for Tuesday, and he will have to pay a premium if there is no one else going in or coming out on that day.

Sleep was a little more fragmented during the night, but at least dreams started reappearing, and falling asleep seems to be more rapid without the ‘nap jerk’. I had packed all of my stuff together and was ready to go soon after 8:15. Will have to reduce the vanity bag and the battery bag for the Dusky. Read more…

6. Day Off @ Freshwater

Thursday, February 16: A little overcast to begin with, becoming sunnier with some clouds still about but mainly dry

Freshwater Hut

Freshwater Hut
Freshwater Hut

Had managed about six hours’ sleep at one go – no snorers made a big difference. We were all up by 7:00. I had my breakfast (coffee not yet working well), sent off a spot OK, then set about washing the stuff from yesterday. First the boots were thoroughly watered and then drained, then the hiking trousers and sox were washed. Set the boots up to drain in the sun & the soles were quickly dry, then set up a clothes line to dry everything else. As of writing (2:00) the trouser bottoms were done, shirt, sox, trouser tops and raincoat are all on the washing line under the bridgehead and the boots are on top of the woodshed drying in both the sun and the wind. No more water collecting in the boots, so let’s see how well we can dry them.

Helen & Moira are leaving this evening with the water taxi @ 6:00, so that gives me a chance to order one for Sunday & take up my room in Bunkers later that day, get a shower & perhaps even wash my stuff properly. Søren has asked me to order the water taxi for him as well, but of course two days after I leave. Then he was gone in his mostly still wet stuff. Read more…

5. Oban – North Arm – Freshwater River

Wednesday, February 15: Sunny with variable cloud, light rain showers towards evening

Tramping: 22.9 km

Freshwater Hut (Doc)

Rippled clouds at dawn, Oban
Rippled clouds at dawn, Oban

Today was the day to try to redeem the tramp on Stewart Island. I had slept four hours in one go for the first time on this trip, and was up soon after 7:00. With the first of the hiking breakfasts out of the way – the egg was well cooked, yolk was not dried out, but one or two pieces of shell were a bit tenacious – I pushed what I could into the pack, and everything else went into the small sports bag. Unfortunately my key didn’t open the room labelled “Storage” so I put a note on the bag and left it on the bed. Then it was off to the track. Read more…

4. Invercargill – Oban

Tuesday, February 14: Heavy rain overnight, heavy showers, lightning on Stewart Island

Walking: 3.2 km

Bunkers Backpackers, 13 Argyle St., Halfmoon Bay, double room upstairs, all amenities downstairs ($74)

Sleep was still fairly fragmented but I let everyone else get up and underway before I went down at 8:15. All were almost ready to go when I started on breakfast. Pretty soon the house was quiet. Had a quick look on the internet, could see that the rain was going to clear over the next couple of days.

Had my remaining two peaches & started to organise the stuff for today. Found five eggs that could be boiled, although they were very different sizes. Tried to avoid eggs that were already cracked, brought some water to boil and plonked them in, waited 30 seconds after the water had returned to boil, threw about half of the ice cubes in and took the heat off for the remaining 10 minutes as the water appeared to be at the right temperature. One of the larger eggs had lost a bit of white (but not too much), removed the water, added the remaining ice cubes to cool the eggs, and when the ice had melted I dried the eggs and packed them away in a plastic container (no egg cartons to be found). Read more…