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 (105 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…

10. Oban – Paterson Inlet – Invercargill

Monday, February, 20: A bit of cloud to the east in the morning, clearing to fine with an easterly breeze, fog in the late afternoon & evening

Kayaking: 16.7 km
Walking: 5.9 km

Tina & Tony’s ($70, airbnb)

After the privations of the hike, and as a celebration of the last day on the island I set off for breakfast at the SSH, with Frank closely in tow. The full breakfast (which had been available from 8:00 onwards, and not 9:00, which is when I arrived) was three sausages, two eggs, a couple of bits of bacon, a tomato, hash browns and ciabatta toast for $20 and was well worth it.

Frank was still keen on kayaking and I put a call through to Phil, who was now asking $50 an hour for a part-day trip, so I had to reconsult with Frank whether he was prepared to fork out $200 for a four hour tour. Seemed a bit steep to me & Phil was still harping on about wet rescue, etc. but eventually we agreed, packed some stuff together for the tour (and I placed my suitcase in storage and returned my key) and off we set. Read more…

9. Freshwater – Oban

Sunday, February 19: Sunny & very warm, with a couple of clouds at different levels

Bunkers

I was up on time & Frank slept in a little – he had next to nothing to pack, so that would be no problem. I finished off the muesli bars, egg, coffee and started packing up what was left. Spot tracker was activated, and I could see that the American couple had arrived just after 8:00 which they told me required leaving @ 4:00 & very slow progress throughout in the darkness. I had just gotten all of my stuff together and was about to start the GPS when I heard the boat arrive. Sent Frank over first and was on the boat with the uninitialised GPS a couple of minutes later, and paid my fare. Two Doc rangers were already on board and we only were waiting for a third to turn up from Mason Bay, which he soon did and off & away we were. It was a very early start (8:45) because the high tide was going to be very low. Got out the camera for some shots from the river & the inlet. Quite spectacular with very bright & contrastive colours. 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…

3. Invercargill – Final Preparations

Monday, February 13: Heavy rain overnight, clearing by morning, with rain again in the afternoon

Walking: 6.0 km

Randa’s

Sleep resembled the real McCoy more closely last night, including a dream or two, and by the time I was up (8:30) nearly everyone else was ready to go. The breakfast toast was improved on no end by the vegemite. I emptied the dishwasher before settling down to work: There was an expression of interest from Bunkers Backpackers about more detail for the kayak trip and an email from JR Duty Free about the missing Bundy. I eventually abandoned the enterprise of getting my duty free delivered as there was no promise of anything arriving anywhere, and even their refunds policy seemed a little iffy. Either I sent the credit card details by unsecured email; or I called them with them, which I decided to do in the course of the afternoon. Read more…

2. Invercargill

Sunday, February 12: Some rain in the early morning, windy & overcast

Swimming: 1600 m
Walking: 13.8 km

Randa’s

Sleep was more like napping for 2 hours a go, until about 5:00 when the mode changed to dozing. In any case I was up just after 7:00 when Randa & Gonsalo were finishing breakfast. I was introduced to the kitchen and got hold of some cornflakes, coffee & toast. Gonsalo was on his way to Queenstown for a couple of days and left soon after. Randa started on her story – at least in the brief version – and I was able to start walking on the way to the swimming pool for what I hoped was pool practice with the local kayak club. Was greeted every now & then by joggers, and just before reaching the pool asked a passerby where exactly it was, and was directed to it, not far away, but not where I thought it was. Paid about $4.5 (which would have been for a senior!), went into the building, waited around for the kayak people to turn up, asked around every once in a while, admired the boats, went back to the reception & asked to call them to see what they were up to as it was passed the time they had told me they were starting at. The session had been cancelled, pity they hadn’t told me anything about it. Read more…