Monthly Archives: April 2017

Queen Charlotte Track – Day 2 – Furneaux Lodge to Punga Cove

Sunday 30th April
Well boy did it rain during the night, but a lovely night hearing the rain on the roof. We woke to a beautiful morning and after breakfast we packed our bag ready for the boat shuttle and headed on our way with our day packs. We reduced these a little, put my scarf and DBs fleecy jumper in the boat bag. Each time we travel we keep culling, hopefully by the time we get to a multi day hike we will have it down pat to the most minimal luggage possible.

Today’s track started out quite open and very well graded and quite well suited for cycling. As we progressed it was showing the effects of last nights rain, it was quite wet, slippery and boggy at times. Mostly clay we had many times a moment to gauge the best way to negotiate the puddles an mud holes. Many times there was a squeal and a yikes from DB as we skated on a slippery section. But all good. I was glad we were walking not cycling as my squeals may have ended up as major slide outs to the ground.

We saw some beautiful scenery, gorgeous coloured water and views, many waterfalls, rainforest and amazing tree ferns. Today was not as taxing elevation wise and not very rocky in comparison to yesterday. We passed a miner’s amp where they used to mine stibnite ore.

We had a few interesting conversations today talking a lot about our next adventure and the things we need to buy to stay in camp huts along the way. We will be eating freeze dried food where you just a cup of boiling water. As we will both need one each I wondered – Is it quicker to boil 1 cup of water two times or 2 cups of water once, to have enough water for or dinner. Also, how much water do you lose in the process. I guess we will have to do some experimenting. Another chat was how to generate power for our phones for our trails and camera. DB is thinking on that one some more. We saw some more fantails today, apparently they hang around the trails because as we hike past we disturb the bugs and they are their food source. Clever little things they are. We saw some more PIG footprints, some white ducks, weka and heard some beautiful bellbirds. Todays hike was a lot shorter. We arrived at Punga Cove at about 1pm. The sun was shining and we had a drink at the outdoor bar and then stopped in the bay for a picnic lunch. We were thinking we might have a kayak paddle when the weather did as predicted, the wind picked up and the rainclouds rolled in. Within 30 minutes the whole day had changed so we checked in to our room and decided on a visit to the hot tub instead. This was lovely, and just what our bodies needed. This was followed by a rest and then dinner back down at the bar. We were to be the only guests here tonight so we had an informal bar meal which was lovely. Mung fish and veggies followed by brownie and ice cream. DB in his element as he had ice cream again tonight. Another guy from San Diego arrived just before six and had hiked all the way from Ship Cove. He had been going for about 10 hours. We had a great chat with the chef tonight who is from the UK. Most of the staff we have seen are young travellers. The receptionist was from Argentina, chef from UK and yesterdays receptionist was also from the UK. There are really no kiwis working these places at all. They all live on the premises and try to see some countryside on their days off. Apparently there were about 50 people staying here last weekend with another 40-50 day visitors. Hard to imagine as it is pretty much deserted now.

Two days down and two to go. Home to bed for an early night as tomorrows hike is 24km, so about 8 hours. Hopefully we hold up ok because day 4 is about the same distance as well.

Today’s Stats: Distance 12.87km, time 3:36, Ascent 219m, highest alt 72m

Queen Charlotte Track – Day 1 – Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge

Saturday 29th April
Today was the start of our first multi day hike. We have taken the soft option – showed, bed and food at the end of each day. Only 71km from start to finish on the Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds.

The start of the journey is with a 1 hour 20 minute boat ride to Ship Cove. The commentary this tie far surpassed our last trip. The Captain talked continuously the whole trip. We saw some NZ fur seals that surfed the wash of the boat. We also saw little blue penguins swimming around. They are the world’s smallest penguin. We didn’t manage to see any dolphins today. We passed the Interislander ferry which travels between Picton and Wellington, a 3.5hour trip. FYI Picton and the centre of Wellington CBD have the same lattitude. He told us the price of many homes that have been sold in the sound over the last seven years. The prices ranged from $170,000 to 1.3million. The prices of the properties varies based on seclusion (i.e. if you have an entire bay to yourself), size of house etc. One hundred people live permanently i the sound, another fifty come there in the summer to there batch (a holiday house). We also saw King Shags which are the largest and rarest cormorants. There are currently only 600. You can stay in the sound for as cheap as free camping in  tent to the most expensive being $2600 per night. We went to the salmon farm where he told several funny stories about the seals ruling the roost there. The farm ponds are covered on top and also have fences that go under water to try to stop theses from getting to the salmon. The most expensive property in the sound was $4.2 milllion. We stopped at Motuara Reserve and Scenic Island. This is a bird sanctuary. They are also used to try to help the kiwi. They get rescue kiwis who are not allowed to leave the island until they weigh 1.2kg which gives them the ability to defend themselves against predators. Prior to this program they had a 0% survival rate, now it is 90%. Once they reach 1.2kg they are released back into the wild. The centre cannon at the monument on ship cove came from Captain Cook’s ship.

We started the first leg of our hike at about 10.30am which started with a 40 min uphill climb on slippery, wet, rocky clay. It was a little challenging. We reached the top at about 260m elevation. Wee then went straight back down and then a little later climbed it all again. We had a lovely 4 hour hike in mild conditions. Unfortunately no sunshine today, but luckily it only started sprinkling in the last 15mins which is much better than the expected forecast. After a four hour hike we arrived at Furneaux Lodge our first rest stop. We checked in the our hiker’s cabin which was a room the size of a double bed plus about 2 foot at the end and one side for a walkway. A kettle, rubbish bin and heater the only other facilities in the room. We were 2 of 7 people staying here tonight.

We tried our first Back Country freeze dried meals which we shared as entree before going to the lodge for an amazing dinner. We wanted to trial the freeze dried meals on the trip so we knew which ones we liked for future hikes. Honey soy chicken, veggies and rice. Just add 1 cup of boiling water, stir and then let stand for 10 mins. It was surprisingly nice. Yay. We won’t have to starve when we hike remotely without services. Dinner was amazing. Fresh Marlborough Salmon, chat potatoes & veggies and sticky date pudding and ice cream.

We survived the day. DB had a sore quad and I had a blister on my big toe. Hopefully we will be ok for tomorrow.

Today’s Stats: Distance 13.17km, time 4;00, Ascent 465m, highest alt 259m.

Hanmer Springs to Picton

Friday 28th April
On my little run this morning through Hanmer Springs it was amazing to see all the new development. From what I remember as a small village the township has spread its wings in all directions. Construction of houses everywhere. We then started on our way to Picton, the day started at 9am with sun shining and 22°, by 9.45 in was 15° and by 9.51 it was 12° and raining. The roadworks on the way was continuous. Workers everywhere trying to keep the road in shape as it was the only road to the north east now that the SH1 was closed.

The plan today was to do a short hike at Murchison but the weather was not lending us to that idea. As we got closer the rain eased a little and we decided to go anyway and trial our new wet weather pants. So off we went for a hike up the Skyline Track 3.2km return with an ascent of 230m through a lovely little rainforest. A shame about the weather as when we reached the top all we could see was fog. Doesn’t really matter it was just good to get the hiking legs out of mothballs and give them a stretch before our big hike starting tomorrow. It was also lovely to be out in the fresh air.

We then headed through Blenheim, I have never seen so many vineyards, grapes, grapes and more grapes. They were also at all different stages of growth which made me think the climate was okay for them to grow them all year round. Wish i liked wine, we could have done a little wine tasting on the way through.

Then off to the shops to organise food for our hike. We are all booked and ready to go on our 4 day hike on the Queen Charlotte Track. One bag, an esky and 2 day packs. We will have to improve on that when we don’t have any facilities. Might have to start with an overnight hike first before we build up to a multi day hike and learn to cull our gear a bit more. Wish us luck, the adventure starts tomorrow..

Christchurch to Hanmer Springs

Wednesday 26th April
A day in Christchurch. Colleen headed home very early this morning and has arrived safely after her 16 day adventure. Our today is to be a rest day, to plan a little of our next adventure. First rest day since we arrived on 11th April.

Thursday 27th April
Another day of rest, planning, getting some hiking gear and heading towards our next destination. Some of the specials at Kathmandu were amazing. We both got some waterproof hiking pants, I got a pair of my hiking pants for only $55, DB got a hiking shirt also for only $55 and the back pack we were going to buy in Australia for $120 was only NZ$75 which we also bought. Boy do I love a bargain.

We then headed on our way and tonight we have stopped at Hanmer Springs on our way to Picton. Our next adventure is a 4 day hike on the Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds. Only 71km, starting on Saturday. We have taken the soft option, staying at accommodation along the way and having our food and some clothes transported each day via the mail boat so we just have to carry a day pack each. Pretty cruisey we hope, except for the distances we have to hike. Wish us luck.

Oamaru to Christchurch

Tuesday 25th April
Anzac Day. We woke to a chilly morning and a little grey. We headed into the town of Oamaru to have a look around. It was described as a little quirky town with eccentric people. Unfortunately it did not usually start until about 10.30am and was looking like t wasn’t going to start at all. The only shops open were the coffee shops. There were all types of little shops and unusual galleries. Old time bikes, boats, carts, steam punk (interesting junk art).

We first of all stopped at a children’s playground. It had all sorts of interesting play equipment including a cycling track with broken white lines, give way lines etc. It was a great idea. The trip through the old town of 18th century limestone buildings was quicker than usual as most of them were closed.

We then headed to St Patrick’s Basilica is a Catholic church designed by the prominent New Zealand architect Francis Petre and is one of his most celebrated works. It is one of the most important historic buildings of the North Otago region. The Basilica’s classical portico and three domes are an admired feature of the Oamaru townscape and the building is particularly noted for the high quality of the stone carving and fine plasterwork of its architectural features. Built entirely of Oamaru stone the exterior has weathered more than one would have expected, but inside the church glows with reflected light from the creamy stone which is virtually in its original state. The interior is bathed in abundant natural light, and with clear glass rather than stained in the high nave windows, the quality of light is enhanced.

Tonight we went to Willowbank Wildlife Park and Maori Cultural Show to end Colleen’s trip with a bit of New Zealand history, culture and wildlife. David and his mum went on a kiwi tour and met some of New Zealand’s animals up close and then Colleen and I went to the Maori Cultural show where we were welcomed into the Ko Tane tribe and shared a night of dance, learnt to use Poi Balls in a dance with the girls and watched the boys learn the Haka. It was a good night to finish up Colleen’s trip as she flies home tomorrow. It has been lovely to share this beautiful country with her. Wishing her a safe and uneventful trip home for a big rest.

Tomorrow we are also planning a quiet rest day to plan the rest of our holiday and recover a little from the last 16 days of go, go, go!

Twizel to Lake Tekapo to Oamaru

Monday 24th April
Today we had a late start to the day due to our last few big days. Our first stop was at Lake Pukaki to view Mt Cook again. Once again we saw its peak which is 3724m. Yippee!!

We then headed to Lake Tekapo to the St Johns Observatory. Fantastic view. Enormous slice of carrot cake. Yummee!! Then we went down to the ground level of Lake Tekapo to a little historic church where it was difficult to get a decent photo with all the red bombers around. There were tourists everywhere.

Next destination was Oamaru with a short lunch break at Lake Pukaki. Much to DBs annoyance we had to drive back through Twizel to go to Oamaru. It was another scenic drive. We stopped at some Maori Rock Art near Duntroon. Then on to our final stop. We went to a blue penguin parade tonight. We watched 115 little blue penguins come ashore and waddle to their nesting boxes at the Oamaru Blue Penguin facility. In breeding season they have about 600 penguins there.

We head to Christchurch tomorrow as Colleen flies home early Wednesday morning.

Aoraki / Mt Cook

Sunday 23rd April
Well today was going to be a big day. We headed out early, on the road by 7am – Destination Mt Cook. Four and a half hours drive away. It was a beautiful drive again. NZ doesn’t disappoint. The blue sky was bright and the sun was shining. Warm as toast in the car but a little brisk outside. Another great day.

We arrived at Mt Cook about 12.30 with bright blue skies and a peak on Mt Cook. We didn’t see the top of Mt Cook last time. After a picnic lunch in the sunshine, we went for a walk to the Memorial for the people that have died on Mt Cook and saw the rock where the first female to reach the top had her photo taken. She was an Australian called Freda du Faur. We the walked along Hooker Valley to the bridge over the Hooker River. After this we went to the Blue Lake and Tasman Glacier. It has also receded considerably in 8 years.

We went to the visitor centre which had many stories about ascending Mt Cook, accidents, tools, rescues, deaths, animals of Mt Cook. It was very interesting and informative.

Another great day. Colleen is on the count down for her visit here in New Zealand, she heads home on Wednesday. Only 2 full days to go. She is having a great time, really enjoying the diverse countryside.

Milford Sound

Saturday 22nd April
We got up very early today and were on the road to Milford Sound by 7am. It was a magical day of blue sky but the mist rolled in the closer we got to Milford. We had a short stop at Mirror Lakes which was spectacular again. We also stopped at a few picturesque lookouts on the way.

We arrived over an hour early for our cruise (does anyone believe that?). We had a great cruise on the sound. 14km out to the Great Southern Ocean and then back. We went with Milford Cruises which was a smaller boat licensed to carry 155 but only take 75, we only had about 35. This made for a very enjoyable cruise. One of the staff was very chatty and told us a bit about his life. He was a crayfish fisherman originally. In the 80’s the Government issued licenses for fishing by quota per year. It was worked out by averaging your last 5 years catch. This was 10 tonne. So he was able to catch 10 tonne a year. You had this license for life or until you sold it. He sold his for NZ$250,000 in the 90’s, if he sold it today it is worth $13million. In high season now a fisherman could sell crayfish for $150 kg.

Mitre Peak is the tallest mountain in the sound is 1683m above water and 209m below water level. Milford Sound averages 7 metres of rain a year. The crags in the sides of the mountains are cause by the shift of the fault line from earthquakes. The last years quakes moved NZ 30cm closer to Australia. The sandflies are so plentiful they could carry you away.

It was a lovely day, picturesque drive and cruise.

Arrowtown to Queenstown to Te Anau

Friday 21st April
Today started with a very icy run in country Arrowtown. By the end my fingers were so cold I was in pain. It took about 20 mins before I could feel them again.

Our first stop today was Arrowtown village which was holding the Annual Autumn Festival. The trees here were so colourful in different shades of green, yellow, orange and red. We visited the Chinese settlement which still had some of the original humpies. It is amazing how small and simple these dwellings were. One room with a fire. Haven’t things changed in the last hundred years. Is it for the better? We the walked through the town centre which has many old and quaint heritage listed buildings.

From Arrowtown we headed into Queenstown, then drove for an hour to Glenorchy along Lake Wakatipu. A very scenic drive. After lunch at Glenorchy we drove back the same way to Queenstown. with the lake and the Remarkables mountain range in view most of the time.

At Queenstown Colleen and I went up in the Gondola, it carries you 450 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob’s Peak. After this we then drove to Te Anau (Te-Ar-now) for tonights stopover.

Lake Hawea to Wanaka to Arrowtown

Thursday 20th April
We stayed in a very picturesque caravan park right on Lake Hawea last night. We went for a drive around the lake before heading out. The bellbirds were singing sweetly in the trees.

We then drove to Lake Wanaka, a short but very pretty drive. Our first stop was Puzzling World which was a very interesting display of illusions. There was a room you went into which was on a 15° angle which played with your brain and also had the ability to make you feel unsteady and nauseous. It is amazing how your mind can play tricks on you to see something that isn’t really there.

We then headed to Lake Wanaka for a lunch with another lovely view. It was surrounded by beautiful trees in Autumn colours. Very picturesque.

We went then to see “That Wanaka Tree”. Wanaka’s willow with wet feet is perhaps New Zealand’s most photographed tree. About five years ago, Wanaka photographers and writers began pumping images of it to social media sites as bit of a joke. Two years ago, Lake Wanaka Tourism put the tree on its photo trail and last year a Wanaka Instameet that beamed tree images to millions of people. DB joined the many and took a few photos.

Next stop was around the lake to Glendhu Bay where we could see Rob Roy Glacier  small hanging glacier. We then headed towards our home for the night at Arrowtown to try to get there before dark as we knew the views were definitely worth seeing in daylight and we have missed a couple of beautiful gorges already when we arrive too late to our accommodation.

Not to disappoint the views were amazing. We also arrived at our new home which was located about 5 minutes out of Arrowtown surrounded by a deer farm. Another magical spot. Don’t know how we manage to find these secluded spots but we are getting very good at it.