February 14th 2017
Ship cove – possible camping
Total distance: 1091.9 miles
There is usually an unwritten rule in hostels that if you have to get up early you remove yourself and your stuff from the room and pack up quietly outside the room, letting everyone else continue sleeping. Not the girl below me. Her alarm went off at 6:45, she turned on the light and set about packing up her things at a very leisurely pace. The worst thing for me is that she was doing this while still sat on her bed which made my bed wobble about all over the place because they were old rickety bunk beds. So I was up.
I wasn’t feeling my most perky today. Of course I was looking forward to the South Island and seeing what it has to offer, but I also feel very very tired. Walking continuously for seven months will do that to you I guess! Part of me is ready to just stop, but of course I know that when I do stop I’ll just be looking to start again. There is also a certain amount of trepidation, the long food carries, the steep ascents and descents, the exposed areas, the river crossings and the unpredictable weather are concerns.
We walked the short distance to get the ferry that would take us to Ship Cove. We made a bit of a mistake on this booking, we booked online for NZ$67, but had we booked in the office we would have got it for NZ$50 as they offer a TA hiker discount. Oh well, you live you learn.
The weather was looking promising so we sat up on the top deck and sat back to enjoy the ride. It was a little choppy as we passed the Interislander ferry but nothing too bad, then about halfway through we saw DOLPHINS!! It was so cool, we slowed down and they were jumping out the water all around us. Bottlenose dolphins. When we got going again they jumped and played about in the wake of the boat. What an unexpected treat!
We then set out for the queen Charlotte track, a nice 1000ft climb to start the day! I had done my shoes up too tight so all the circulation to my leg was being cut off. My left leg went completely numb and it was pretty uncomfortable to walk on, until I realised it was the shoes and loosened them. It helped but even then my leg would still go numb a few more times. We took a break only 1.5 miles into the day, it seems that was how the day would go! There are these flightless birds called Weka, and they are cheeky. They will try to steal whatever is lying around and it tried to get Julia’s packet of tortillas.
We crossed paths with quite a few people out on day hikes, a lot of people were doing the track over 4 days and having their luggage transported from place to place which sounds wonderful! I have to say I was a little underwhelmed by the Queen Charlotte track. It seems that it is a popular walk because it has to be made accessible to all people, with a wide, smooth unnatural path. And that’s great for a lot of people. I was expecting to be blown away from what everyone had said but I’ve seen equally as wonderful views on some of the coastal tracks in the North Island.
But, overall it was a nice walk and I still enjoyed it. We were mostly in trees which the occasional lookout points over the sounds. The Cicadas were so loud, overwhelmingly loud in some places.
We saw on the map there was a lodge in a few miles so we aimed for that. All through the North Island we had been saying that we should make the most of our towns and little shops along the way because we won’t be getting any of that on the South Island. Well, here we are on our first day and 8 miles in stopping at a fancy lodge! It was Valentine’s Day so they had heart shaped cookies on the bar, which I probably ate more than my fair share of.
We ordered chips and garlic bread and sodas, very expensive sodas! And Colin brought 2 beers for us to share. By this time it was 4:30pm and we wanted to make at least 8 more miles today, maybe 10 so we had to hike again. The rest of the afternoon was a pretty easy walk, the elevations were gentle and we bumped into 2 DOC workers who had been maintaining the track further up, Richard and Wo.
Sandy and Julia were walking next to each other having a conversation in French when suddenly Sandy fell. She had stepped onto a small wooden bridge but missed the side of the bridge with one foot and fell into the tiny stream below, and then fell into some trees. She was ok, a bit shaken up and she had a cut lip but generally fine.
We continued on and arrived at a lookout point with a toilet where we thought we could camp but there was no flat ground, so we had to push on. At 8:20ish we came to a grassy area where there was just enough room to squeeze in our three tents. We were treated to a beautiful sunset and went to bed deciding not to bother with an alarm in the morning.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.