This was one of the more enjoyable options of returning from the Heaphy Track, by as direct a means as possible, and as such is one of the classical combination routes. With accommodation and the supermarket in Karamea, this was also an ideal way of doing a much longer hike than would otherwise be possible.
The only thing that was worrying about the track was the fact that it had been reclassified as a “route” from previously being a track. This means that upkeep of the track is downgraded, and any further slips, etc. which might impede progress will no longer be bypassed (as was the case near the Karamea end, where recent windfall has almost obliterated the track, but temporary signs have been erected to allow passage, and shortly before Wangapeka Saddle, where a detour around a major slip was well signed). This has meant that a telephone once present at the Karamea end of the track has been removed, although the telephone at Price’s Clearing was still there. These telephones provide (or provided) a secure means of arranging transport off the track at both ends. For alternative accommodation right at the Karamea end of the track, Atawhai Farmstay is a possibility (and they have a phone there as well). Read more…
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…
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…
Tuesday, March 21: Sunny to begin with, clouding over, with sun returning in Nelson
Tramping: 8.2 km
Genie’s (airbnb, $40)
Despite the late night I was up @ 8:00, had the last of the tramping breakfasts and was packed up and ready to go by 9:30. The plan was to walk to Kohatu and wait for the bus. On the way out of town I noticed that the school was also home to the public library and being shown there by the receptionist was told that for a small donation I could use the “senior internet” access. Got on and messaged Genie who reported back that moving the booking forward one night would be OK. Tried messaging Elizabeth, but wasn’t sure if it had worked. In any case I was out after half an hour or so and that relieved some of the pressure on the day.
Just before Kohatu was overtaken by Marcel & Jasmin and their small car which was packed full, despite which they offered me a lift. I wanted to walk the distance, however, and was in Kohatu just after 11:30. The only thing here is a cafe and I had a coke, had to restart the compass twice because the rucksack had fallen over, then went across the road to eat my muesli bars. In the course of waiting decided I would see what happened if the camera took some timelapse. First tried in “M” mode, but the camera stopped after a while; but in “Av” mode the sequence appeared to want to go on forever. At around 2:30 I packed up and kept an eye out for the bus, but it was nearly an hour in coming. Eventually it was there and despite the traffic in Richmond and Stoke was not delayed any further and arrived in Nelson at just 4:05 (fifteen minutes late). Marched up to Mount St, but Elizabeth was not at home, and then to Genie’s, where she was awaiting me with her friend Chris. He had tried intercepting me, but had picked the wrong bus. With a coffee to wake me up, things had to be organised. Read more…
Monday, March 20: Mountain clouds to begin with, becoming fine and sunny
Tramping: 19.9 km
Tapawera Settle Motorcamp, 19 Tadmore Valley Rd, Tapawera 7055, cabin ($75, including on-demand transport from the track end), hosts: Colin & Tina
One last attempt at finding the glasses last night by waiting until it was dark and using the headlamp to detect any glint was not successful, but there was a probe standing around this morning, so after breakfast I made the very last attempt also, alas, to no avail. After which there was nothing much left to do except pack everything up, sweep the floor, take out the ash (not very much, the hard red wood took a long time to get to burn, but when it did there was a lot of heat and not much ash) and I was ready to go by 9:45.
The very first part of the track was a bit of river skipping but after a bridge the mule route took over and it was very high and dry over the river, and quite flat. About halfway to the huts there were a couple of stretches of mud but apart from that everything was OK. I wasn’t pushing it and arrived at King’s Creek for lunch after around 2½ hours, after briefly considering staying at Cecil King’s Hut (historical) with its two bunks. Read more…
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…
Friday, March 10: Overcast during the day with some sunshine in the afternoon, rain expected in the evening
Walking: 8.1 km
Another variation on Elizabeth’s breakfast this morning was to have weetbix with the ground up seeds, a plum and milk, and to forget the banana at some stage. Toast was a rather teutonic type of bread and it was plied with marmite. Not much sign of the torrential rainfall expected from the north.
First port of call was to tidy up the Wangapeka Track. Got an offer from Tapawera that they would pick me up and rent me a cabin for $75, which would have to be unbeatable. An Intercity bus @ full price can be cancelled up to two hours in advance for a full refund, but that has yet to be booked. In Karamea the very rainbowy Rongo Backpackers was taking $65 a night for a twin room plus $20 for a pickup which comes to much the same as Tapawera above, and was promptly reserved. Two things I will have to keep in mind: Taking enough cash to pay for everything, and a shopping list for Karamea. Shampoo & shower gel will have to be topped up before I go so that I can get some personal hygiene done in Karamea and Tapawera. And some decent meals. Read more…
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.Read more…