With no camping overnight, no freeze dried dinners, smaller backpacks and a cool, very refreshing beer after each day’s trek, we’ve glamped our way along the Queen Charlotte Track with our great travelling friends Dave & Kerry Lilley, from Taranaki.
Taking advantage of accommodation on offer and water transport transfers that the Queen Charlotte track offers for visitors, this start to our Te Araroa (TA) South Island trail has gently lead us in and allowed an easier means of building up TA muscle. John and I offloaded some gear onto Dave & Kerry’s luggage being daily transferred which meant our backs and feet were not being overly taxed by heavy backpacks.
Just as well, as it is over 2 years since completing Te Araroa North Island and all stamina and sturdiness needs rebuilding. The mountains of the South Island await!
Two years after completing a walk-through on the Te Araroa trail North Island (1700kms from Cape Reinga to Wellington), we are on the trail again. Our plan this year is to walk about one third, approximately 450kms from Ships Cove at the start of Queen Charlotte to Arthur’s Pass. With a big family and a number of commitments underway, including building a house, we feel we do not have the inclination nor time to walk further this year.
Historically, Meretoto/Ships Cove in the Marlborough Sounds was a safe haven for Captain James Cook. Now it is a scenic reserve with a memorial to Cook and numerous plaques with historical information.
John, Dave, Kerry and I took the obligatory photo beneath Cook’s Memorial to commemorate our start of walking Queen Charlotte Track. John and I love this track, having walked this trail previously and also because John has wonderful memories from his time at Outward Bound at Anakiwa (the end of the QC track) in 1973.
Stretching between the Queen Charlotte and Keneperu Sounds lies the picturesque Queen Charlotte Track, unique in splendid mountain to sea views, native bush and bird life.
Much work is being carried out along this trail to preserve native birds by trapping vermin such a the Australian Possum, rats, stoats and weasels and returning the native bush to native species. The pine forestry in NZ has been a profitable crop for both local and overseas markets since the 1920’s. However, ‘wilding’ pines have encroached on native bush so DOC (Department of Conservation) have implemented poisoning individual trees to allow regeneration of native bush. A variety of animal traps line the trail and many dead wilding trees can be seen.
Queen Charlotte Trail is 71 kms long which we walked at an enjoyable pace over four days. In my previous blog I had mentioned that a section of the QC track was closed because of the high fire danger. However, rain in the Marlborough Sounds two nights before we commenced walking assured the powers that be, that it was safe enough to allow walkers and bikers to traverse the Kenepuru saddle section rather than the road. How lucky we were.
Rain there may have been, but the trail was pretty dry and could well understand the need for caution. Nonetheless, I was exceedingly grateful to be walking this section. Plenty of up’s that made me realize that I am definitely not TA fit, at least not yet , but to be walking the saddle on a gorgeous sunny day with glorious views to both Marlborough and Kenepuru Sounds was just wonderful. My favourite though was walking under the tall mountain beech trees, with beech tree litter underfoot with glimpses of the aquamarine waters through the trees highlighted by the afternoon sun. To hear happy bird sounds, the constant high pitched cicada, to walk with friends, to walk this undulating trail, to view pretty vista, was to walk with a smile of gratitude for the moment.
Nice walking through avenues of beech, birds (with Kerry’s help identified tui, bellbird, weka, Tom tit, robin, Finch (and others unknown) chirping and flitting happily in the trees and the ever constant chirping cicadas.
Donald the Scottish North Bound TA trekker took our fancy with his yellow kilt and color coordinated backpack…plus he was running!! He was happy to stop for a photo and a chat. We meet some very interesting people in our travels
After four days of beautiful friendship, sharing wine, beer some quite good food and days of happy conversation we said our goodbyes to Dave & Kerry, at Anakiwa, who travelled back to their life in the North Island.
We meanwhile pressed on with our TA trail. From Anakiwa to Havelock meant negotiating the roads with fast moving traffic, passing interesting letterboxes, fields of disconcerted cows and the odd goat tied to a tether. It was a relief when road turned to trail affording more beautiful views of Pelorus Sound.
Havelock to Pelorus Bridge was another day tramping roads, albeit minor roads with little traffic followed by 6 kms across farmland including climbing over 27 styles of varying stability, on Daltons track. Our tired feet, were most happy to reach Pelorus Cafe; road walking is hard work,
where we rested enjoying coffee and very nice home made pies, while waiting for the pre-booked intercity bus to Nelson for restock, taking future provisions to various locations and enjoying the hospitality of family and friends.
Nelson is suffering drought and water restrictions are in place. Reticulation and hoses cannot be used. People, both privately and corporately are being encouraged to do all they can to conserve water. The fire danger is extreme.
Meanwhile, we walk on tomorrow, from Pelorus Bridge. We are very happy that John’s niece Bronwyn, will be tramping with us for a few days.