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…

23. Te Anau – Dunedin

Sunday, March 5: Partly cloudy to begin with, with some unusual lenticular cloud over the Otago Plains, increasing in the course of the afternoon

Mike’s ($39, airbnb)

No need for the alarm clock this morning (which had been set for 6:30) because a biker decided he had to rev up in the car park. Breakfast was OJ, coffee, two pieces of toast with vegemite; made two rounds of ham sandwiches for lunch, and packed them with an apple & the milk into the top of the backpack. Everything else was neatly distributed in the suitcase which I got to close despite it weighing nearly 30 kg, and after combing the room for anything else I might have left behind, took out the rubbish, then rolled my suitcase out to the front of the reception just before 7:30 to await my taxi. He was pretty much on time so I was at the bus stop with time to spare. Read more…

22. Te Anau

Saturday, March 4: Sunny with a few clouds about over the mountains and a strong wind in the afternoon

Steamer’s Backpackers

The harder tasks were waiting this morning, as everything easier was disappearing. The library is open Saturdays from 10:00 to 3:00 so that enabled two sessions of relatively fast internet after the breakfast of OJ, two toasted cheese sandwiches and coffee had been dealt with. Met Shoko as she was waiting for her bus which would eventually take her back to Auckland. I let the spot tracker run a full course of 20 minutes, but apart from the ‘OK’ button turning off after that time, nothing much happened.

First task on the net was to get transport to the bus station, which eventually worked. Copied the bus times & destinations in Dunedin into a text file and I hope that at least that action would make me remember them. St Clair Hot Saltwater Pool looks inviting for some time next week. Read more…

21. Te Anau

Friday, March 3: Warm & sunny with a few light showers

Steamer’s Backpackers

Breakfast was meant to be two rounds of cheese sandwiches (toasted) but the cookout people donated all of the remains of their fried eggs, bacon, baked beans and hash browns. I helped myself to some bacon & a fried egg for the odd end piece of toast that couldn’t be used for the sandwiches.

Washing had to be addressed urgently this morning and about the only thing I forgot was the spiderman suit. In any case I was finished so early, and the weather promised some rain, that I could identify a clothes line with some pegs on it and hang the stuff up to dry before the weather delivered. The (Maytag) washing machine set at “colours” and “warm” made a dent on the mud on the trousers (not so much on the shirt, though) and nothing smells as bad as it once did. The boots in the meantime required hand soap from the facilities and a couple of rinses to clear, and that will hopefully be enough to convince a cobbler to repair them. 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…

13. Hauroko Burn – Halfway Hut (Dusky Track 1/8)

Thursday, February 23: Sunny throughout with some morning fog and high clouds in the afternoon

Tramping: 11.9 km

Halfway Hut (Doc)

The compass-alarm went off on the dot of 6:00 and I was up to finish the orange juice and two eggs which were a little too hard boiled, but the shells separated nicely. Everything fitted into the backpack, except for the (large) gas can and the burner which were packed into the sport shoe bag and strapped on the outside of the pack, and the tripod and ratsack are being carried in a separate bag sashed to me.

The computer & pjs were put into the satellite pack and deposited in locker #19.

With everything ready to go and the room key delivered back to the key drop I was waiting at the front of the motorcamp at 7:15 and could spend a spot OK while doing so. Shuttle turned up a little after half past, and in addition to Jack & Nico, two Dutch hikers were coming along as well, Sjos & Bo. We also had to pick up another person in Manapouri, Murray, a Kiwi from Taranaki. Now we were set to go to Clifden. Here we were joined by a young Canadian couple, Quinn & Matt, who had just completed the Te Araroa and were looking for another challenge. Read more…

12. Te Anau

Wednesday, February 22: Heavy rain overnight, becoming fine, sunny & hot in the course of the day

Walking: 11.0 km

Steamers Beach

Breakfast this morning was a “traditional”: Eggs, ham & toast at the Olive Tree Café for $15 plus a double flat white for $4 (52 Town Centre). This was served with satchels of jam and honey, which brought me to the idea of perhaps substituting honey for sugar in the tramping coffee.

But first I tried to get to the Trips & Tramps office, which is a fair way out of town, and in reality not an office but just a depot, so I returned the way I took out, back along the Milford Road. Te Anau Collision Repairs has the charming slogan, “Show us your crack”, and all the toury places along the path were booked out. Read more…

11. Invercargill – Te Anau

Tuesday, February 21: Cloudy, variable, with some rain drops

Steamers Beach Backpackers, Lakeview Holiday Park, 77 Manapouri – Te Anau Hwy, Lake Te Anau, single ($36 + $4, BBH)

I wanted to see Tina off, so I was up at around 7:30. Tony showed me to some cereal, made some coffee, and I later toasted a couple of slices of bread for which I had to collect my vegemite. Tina’s breakfast was waiting for her and she was quickly finished and away to work after a hug.

I was in no big hurry this morning – all I needed was a lift to the i-site & then to see whether I could get a replacement tripod. Tracey & Edward were soon down & starting on their own breakfast. I wrote dedications in the books for Tina & Tony. Read more…