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.