Tues 27 Oct Day 2
The day started early and Gayle and I met at Rotorua airport for our 65mins flight to Wellington. We then had to walk to a hanger for a small plane flight across to Port Gore at the top of the South Island.
I sat in front and Gayle got Paul the son, the tour guide. We had to wait for two planes to land/take off. Our take off was a bit wobbly but then great views of the Wellington coast. It is amazing how many people live so remotely. It was nice seeIng the Marlborough Sounds from the air. As we came closer to landing there were no flat parts, I wondered where we were going to land. A short runway appeared going up hill. We landed then a quick doughnut and we parked up like we were a car by their garage.
The pilot asked if we were in a rush to get started…no, so we were invited in for a cup of tea. Inside we met Dianne, the pilot’s wife and Ian, a friend. We had a coffee and mint biscuit. They had looked up the Te Araroa website to see what I was doing and called me insane. Lovely hospitality and great part of our day.
We started feeling like it was time to get going so we were driven up the run way then up tight track in a Suzuki with no warrant and very tight corners. We had car fumes so I opened my window but then branches came in. We were dropped at the junction with more instructions. This first part of the walk is up and over a ridge, to get us to the start of the Queen Charlotte track which is also the start of the South Island leg of the Te Araroa Trail.
Finally we started walking and up the track went. We warmed up quickly and stopped to take off our jackets. We made the junction with the pipe then up and up to the helicopter pad. We had cell phone coverage so made the most of it. Then it was the down part. The trail was marked for the other direction so we had to look for orange markers that were behind us. There were beautiful old black trees, tropical palms and jungle vines. Down we went. The track was really steep so my thighs were feeling it.
We finally came down to water level and there was a beautiful waterfall. We were so glad the pelorus air people hadn’t told us about it as it was a nice surprise. A short walk later, we reached ships cove the official start of the track. This meant time for lunch where we were joined by our first cheeky weka and some pesky sand flies.
Then we started for real on the track and up it went and up some more. We saw many traps from DOC. It was a well graded track. We were very disorientated as we always turned back on ourselves. We came across lots of picnic tables with a token weka, toilets and chairs. Nice to have facilities and even toilet paper supplied. We were rained on a bit but nothing major. Of course the best bit was the beautiful views which made me take many photos.
After a while the sore feet kicked in. We reached endeavour outlet where we walked passed a few house, a friendly Kereru and then stopped at Furneaux lodge to get our private road pass but they didn’t sell that however they sold beer and had a fire.
Two beers later and we had had some hot chips, charged our phones, used the nice loos and been entertained by the staff and booked coffee delivery in the morning. It was very hard to leave but they wouldn’t let us put our tent on lawn so off we went.
We finally got on our way and had a hilarious time after our two beers. We laughed about nothing. We came to a swing bridge and minors Camp, our destination for the night. We walked in among chickens up to the house. Bev came out to meet us and had been wondering if we were going to turn up. We chatted for a bit and she said we could sleep in the red cooking hut instead of putting up our tents.
We sorted our gear and had a roast vege salad dinner (not able to get gas to cook yet) and headed to bed. What a great start to my South Island leg.
Wednesday 28th October
Walk from Endeavour Inlet to Black Rock Camp, 33km, 9 3/4 hrs
Gayle and I were woken by gun shots. It is an interesting feeling being in close range of hunters. We went off to the loo and on the way back the hunter said hello over the fence and apologise for waking us. He had shot a stag.
Today was a still morning and the water looked beautiful and mirror like. Unfortunately, we got wet feet straight away in long grass. We came across a wood pigeon on the side of the trail with a beautiful red tinge. Later on saw a weka with a worm dangling out it’s mouth at least 25cm long. More Wekas at all the tables and camp sites. Great to see good bird life everywhere.
The trail was nice mostly with a few steep ups to tackle. After 12km we got to a junction where we hid our bags down a bank and went off trail to buy our trail pass ($18), to walk the private land part. Also to get gas and we wanted a coffee from the restaurant. We were hanging out for caffeine.
It was a knarly track but good to be without our packs. We reached Punga Cove and all was good except the restaurant was closed. They had one gas bottle for sale, luckily ($12). We walked back a bit dejected without our coffee fix.
After collecting our packs which now felt extra heavy we got back on our way. The sign at the junction said 8km but we walked on a couple of kms and got to another sign saying we had 10km to go. Frustrating! There were km signs along the way but they always seemed wrong and not very encouraging.
It was raining so we stopped under a big tree as shelter for lunch and brewed a coffee now that we had gas to use. The views were great. We had a lookout where we had signage promoting how good it was so we went up the track even though it was off the trail (we stashed our packs again). It was good and I could talk to My husband so I was very happy.
Gayle and I made it to our planned finish at 2.30pm and we decided to continue on as we didn’t want to spend a long afternoon waiting in camp. We still had plenty of energy too. As we carried on there was a lot more rain so the trail got muddy and it was flicking up the back of our legs. I had a headache all day. Horrible!
Luckily, it wasn’t too hard of a trail but the feet did get sore and the last uphill just before the camp was mentally hard as well. We arrived to black rock campsite at 5.10pm (left 7.30am) and set up tents in the strong wind. I was hoping that we wouldn’t blow away.
There was a shelter for us to cook in so we had a curry followed by tiramisu. We then headed to our tents as it was raining and we were pretty tired. It was a wild windy and wet night.
Thursday 29th October
Day 4 Walk Black Rock Camp to Anakiwa, 29km, 7hrs
Gayle and I were up at 6am and I packed down a wet tent with a few things that got wet around the outside. It was a wild and windy night. I took every thing to the cooking shelter and Gayle and I had coffee..bliss and muesli. We had a great view looking across the water to Picton.
The other two woman camping came over and we got chatting. They were a mother and daughter on their first tramp and really enjoying the trail. They asked me lots of questions about gear and my walk. They were lovely and gave us some chocolate that we used later to get us up some tough hills.
Today was misty cloud and drizzly. The views were a bit covered but we still got glimpses of beautiful bays. We walked 5km and got to a road with a monument for World War Two and saw the path to cowshed bay (where we would of stayed tonight in the original plan). I was glad to pass it as it was off the trail.
We bumped into 12 mountain bikers that were the first other people we had seen on the trail. After that we regularly bumped into people so it is obviously the busy end of the track.
Again we got confusing signs saying 12.5km to go then 200m down the road 11.5km to go (fastest km ever). We knew we were only half way through our days walk but we just wanted to be finished. The walking became on going and tedious. My feet were really uncomfortable due to being wet. I had the sensation of pin pricks under the balls of my feet and in my toes each step. Not nice! Every stop we were creaky getting going again.
It took ages to get to Davies Bay and we had a little break there. I took my shoes off as my feet felt so bad – they needed airing. We marched on and made the last three km to Anakiwa. Yay!
We checked into Anakiwa Lodge and got a double room with ensuite, TVs and DVD player and use of the spa. Showering was bliss. We walked 400m (slowly) to the green caravan that sold coffee. We got one and an ice cream. A reward for finishing the section.
Dinner was a frozen pizza each and a beer. Then we had a spa followed by a DVD in bed. A great end to a hard day.