Debriefing: Queen Charlotte Sound

Different means of travel, different speeds. This sort of put trip planning off a little. On the other hand, not having to spend a whole day slogging on towards some distant had its benefits, not least of which was enjoying the scenery. More could have, should have been done, but I’ll happily leave that for another time.

Section (with links) Distance Track Time Break Mean speed Median time|distance
Picton – Mistletoe Bay 19.4 km 3:26 h 2:14 h 5.65 km/h 6.53|6.76 km/h
Mistletoe Bay – Kumutoto Bay 19.9 km 3:44 h 2:54 h 5.35 km/h 5.74|6.18 km/h
Kumutoto Bay – Blumine Island 21.9 km 3:42 h 1:34 h 5.94 km/h 6.60|6.73 km/h
Blumine Island – Cannibal Cove 16.3 km 2:46 h 1:21 h 5.92 km/h 6.55|6.68 km/h
Cannibal Cove – Ship Cove 7.8 km 1:34 h 0:54 h 4.99 km/h 6.04|6.29 km/h
Totals 85.5 km 15:20 h 8:49 h 5.57 km/h 6.35|6.57 km/h
Summary of paddling the Queen Charlotte Track
Way to go: Speed distribution by time, Queen Charlotte Sound
Way to go: Speed distribution by time, Queen Charlotte Sound

The boat was no doubt fast (and special thanks again to Marlborough Sounds Adventures for a very reasonably priced 5-day hire and return transport – $240 per person), possibly due to the fact that it was not packed to the hilt. A later trip in western Sweden using plastic boats and carrying all supplies for twelve days proved to be somewhat slower. Read more…

Debriefing: Satellite Tours

An additional degree of freedom when travelling was the use of “satellite tours” where a stop would be used as a starting point for a longer tour, with an intermediate base. This meant carrying less luggage to the intermediate point, but it also required a good deal of planning and organisation.

A classical tour, such as the Dusky Track, required only a place to leave most of the luggage, while taking only what was absolutely necessary (for eight days!) on the tour. Since the starting point was Te Anau, and most accommodation hosts there are used to dealing with tourists going on longer or shorter tours, then it was just a question of asking whether storage facilities were available. At Steamers Beach/Lakeview Holiday Park, a vehicle can be parked safely for $10, and another $10 will get you a locker for as long as you need it. Everything else was packed into the backpack weighing in @ 18 kg for the tour.

The first real satellite tour, however, had already been undertaken on Stewart Island. Here the idea was to spend one night in the secondary base at Oban before beginning and after ending the tramp across the island. This would mean leaving a small bag with some fresh clothes at the hostel in Oban, as well as leaving the main suitcase in Invercargill. As there is a strict weight limit on luggage on the plane (15 kg) some of the tramping food would have to be bought in Oban (not much more expensive than the mainland, but anyhow). And this is how it went: Read more…

49. Picton – Nelson

Friday, March 31: Some remnants of cloud in the hills in Picton, becoming sunny and rather warm

Genie’s

The hostel was rather quiet last night with very few guests; at around 4:00 when I got up to go to the loo, one of Nikki’s bread machines was making a lot of noise and she was up, too, to turn it off so that it didn’t wake any other guests. Regular waking was around 7:30, and breakfast was three of the crumpets that I had bought last night with vegemite, coffee, and grape juice from Nikki. I was chatting with the American, Dave, who was also leaving on the midday bus.

I was out of my room @ 10:00 and proceeded to check the internet for anything I had forgotten yesterday. Itunes took up a lot of time and the result on the ipod was less than satisfactory but it will have to do for the trip. I saw that the university sports centre back in Hannover now had a sea kayaking group (Tuesday evenings, so finding time for swimming practice will be a bit of a challenge) instead of flatwater paddling, so I guess that is what I will have to take. Around 12:00 Dave turned up from wherever it was he had been & we loaded up our backpacks and headed for the ferry terminal. Read more…

48. Cannibal Cove – Ship Cove (Queen Charlotte 5/5) – Picton

Thursday, March 30: Low but light cloud in the morning clearing to sunny, hot & dry by the time we reached Picton; fogging over in the early evening

Sea kayaking: 8.3 km

Jugglers’ Rest

Graham & Warwick were quite circumspect this morning and although I could hear them talking I dozed on. No cramps in the night, even despite having to manoeuvre past the stuff in the tent (it was better organised this time, but the head end had changed, and there was a bit of a slope which caused me to slide down the tent in the course of the night).

Christelle’s alarm failed to go off for the first time, but we were in no particular hurry, so getting up @ 7:30 we were greeted by the empty space left behind by Graham & Warwick’s tents and no one else was about. Eventually the others were up as well, with many of them out for a skinny dip to start the day. Read more…

45. Mistletoe Bay – Kumutoto Bay (Queen Charlotte 2/5)

Monday, March 27: Foggy to begin with, clearing about lunchtime, with a lively east wind coming up in the afternoon, a couple of clouds

Sea kayaking: 19.9 km

Kumutoto Bay Campsite ($6, Doc)

It had rained a little during the night, but nothing too serious and when we were up at 7:30 the bay was very still and shrouded in fog. The door to the kitchen had been & remained closed for the night so our food was ready for eating. Christelle offered up her porridge and I supplied some sugar. We took all that she had left of it, microwaved it, and it was enough for the two of us. I put some condensed milk in as well.

Everything had to be packed up: The tents as wet as they were, then everything carted down to the boat. I had estimated high tide @ 11:30 and it was just on 9:30 so that whatever time we decided to leave the tide would be highest as near as dammit. I elected for trying the camera and its mount out and got everything together, except that I had forgotten how to put the camera into continuous mode (yet again) and left the camera running for the first part of the trip without taking any photos. Read more…

44. Picton – Mistletoe Bay (Queen Charlotte 1/5)

Sunday, March 26: A little rain to begin with and towards lunch time, stopping in the afternoon and clearing somewhat towards evening.

Sea kayaking: 19.4 km

Mistletoe Bay Campsite (Doc, $16)

There was one busybody up at around 6:30, and the alarm went off on time, so I went for a shower, finished the fruit juice, had a coffee, and then started packing. Was ready to go by 8:00 and was at Christelle’s hostel at ten past; then we were quickly at MSA, greeted by Alicia who was taking us through the hoops. First there was a safety video, which was mostly fairly common sense, some poor shooting, and one detailed commentary on wind ferrying which was technically right over the top.

Then the discussion about trip planning with Alicia started. I was fairly sure about stopping @ Davies Bay to begin with; an alternative was offered @ Mistletoe (apparently $10 more expensive, but with a camp kitchen). Ratimera and Blumine could follow, and Cannibal Cove, even, would be possible for the last night, and we could get to Ship Cove by 2:30 for the water taxi back. I got a few tips about alternative water taxi stops that we might be picked up from. Anyway with the combination of my spot and Christelle’s cell phone we should be able to arrange something if things go wrong. Read more…

43. Picton

Saturday, March 25: Overcast with drizzle in the morning, lighter rain developing in the course of the afternoon & evening

Jugglers’ Rest

Very quiet the whole night and morning. I was up around 8:30 expecting there to be a rush for breakfast but apart from an obviously set breakfast table, nothing else was stirring. I had the end three pieces of bread as vegemite on toast, some fruit juice & coffee.

Preparations for the Queen Charlotte Track sea kayak tour were beginning to take priority. Since neither toothpaste nor coffee will be enough for five days, replacements had to be bought from Four Square. Had sent off emails to one of the attendees of Skeptics in the Pub who is a biology teacher, and there was some interest from her for a class of 14-year-olds. Also sent a message to Gold about the Cosmic Shambles performance (will also have to message Dell). Got an OK for a place to stay near Birkenhead and back-calculated the time from the airport to there at 1½ hours and gave the hostess an ETA, which was appreciated. Read more…

42. Nelson – Picton

Friday, March 24: Cloudy pretty much the whole day

Jugglers’ Rest, 8 Canterbury St., Picton, double room as single ($60, BBH)

The alarm actually went off @ 7:00 and the rest of the stuff was fairly easily packed away into two backpacks, the smaller one with the computer and the clothes, so that will be the satellite for this tour. Genie was up somewhat later and I had found everything for breakfast before she appeared for a shower. I gave her a copy of the book and after a short discussion of the room I grabbed my stuff, packed it into her car and we were at the bus stop @ around 8:45.

The bus driver was already loading passengers so I immediately had my stuff stowed away and chose a seat up front for the journey, and started on consuming some now month old podcasts. A couple of extra stops around town netted very few extra passengers and it was only after that were we onto the main road, some corners of which I actually recognised from 2009 or 2013. A bit of construction work along the way and the stop in Blenheim was very short. We were just a bit late into Picton. Read more…

41. Nelson: Brook Waimarama Sanctuary

Thursday, March 23: Very cloudy in the morning and a little cool, but warming to clear, blue skies; in the evening some dark clouds

Walking: 2.0 km

Genie’s

Genie offered to take me to the Brook conservation area for a bit of a walk this morning. This is a predator-proof zone not far from the centre of town, along a couple of roads that I had not yet reached, and is in a valley whose dams provided Nelson’s first drinking water (entry $5 donation).

A couple of fantails, a few bell birds, and one weka were very much all that could be seen or heard; a few trees had the distinctive orange berries that I had seen on the Heaphy, but by the time I had returned the staff were out again and I could not ask what they were. Seems like karaka might be a possibility, but for the fruit size. Read more…

40. Nelson

Wednesday, March 22: Variably cloudy, warm

Genie’s

Breakfast at Genie’s was muesli & yoghurt; I had found some instant coffee and made my own, and the toast was first defrosted in the toaster before appearing for a dressing of vegemite. I started working on: Getting transport to and from Picton, accommodation there, all the while waiting for confirmation from Marlborough Sounds Adventures whether they were going to let us have a boat.

Genie’s car needed a new battery, but before that comes about she called the AA for a jump start and took me down to town where I started off trying to collect information about the campsites around the Sound. Seems that there are plenty, and we should have enough time to find another if one is full. It was the same bloke who had given me the tip of using Tapawera Settle on the way off the Wangapeka Track and I used the opportunity to thank him for it. Read more…