5 Star Luxury!

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
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Trip End Feb 27, 2006


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Where I stayed
Mahana Lodge

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I'd booked us into a 5 star motel in Picton for Sunday night - I thought we needed a bit of luxury so that we'd be in good shape for the walk! We called off in Anakiwa for scones and jam en route as I wanted to see Jan and Brian again - the couple who ever so kindly let me stay in their beautiful guesthouse in June (after some bartering on my part!). Sure enough, Jan remembered me, jokingly referring to me as "the cheeky one!" They were just as friendly as I'd remembered, and I played with Pepsi the poodle for a bit - I'm sure she remembered me too!

Once in Picton, we checked into our motel and were really impressed with our unit. There was a cd player with a selection of cds, a dvd player with over a hundred dvds, and I had a room to myself. However, I needed to make arrangements for our walk before I could truely relax...

I had booked us into the lovely Mahana Lodge for the following night, but I was worried that the proceeding day's 23km stretch would be too much for Mum and Stu. I discussed our options with an extremely helpful lady at The Cougar Line's office, and we agreed on a much better itinery that involved a 14km walk on the first day, and a 9km walk on the second. It was more expensive because it meant getting more water taxis, but the parts of the track that we were going to tackle were the most scenic, so it was definitely the right choice.

We saved money by eating in that night, and Stu and me watched the third Lord of the Rings as I'd somehow never seen it before. It certainly lived up to expectations, and a lot of the scenery looked familiar! I headed off to bed once it had finished because our water taxi was booked for 8am the next morning and I needed a good night's sleep.

It was pretty gloomy outside as we ate breakfast, but I wasn't overly concerned as the forecast said that it would clear in the afternoon. In fact, it was probably for the best as there was a bit of a climb at the start of the track, and it would have been much more arduous if the sun had been beating down. However, I didn't quite see it like this when persistent rain greeted us on arrival at Ship Cove. I desperately wanted the sun to shine so that Mum and Stu could see the scenery at its best...

We started by doing a 30 minute detour to a waterfall so that the other walkers could get ahead. Mum kept saying that "it seemed to be brightening up a little bit," but it was an optomistic statement to say the least! Luckily it did stop raining after our trip to the waterfall, but the clouds still hovered while we walked uphill to the first lookout point. Surprisingly, the view was still really impressive as there wasn't much mist around, and I started to feel better about the conditions. A couple of Wekas pestered us for food, and we caught a glimpse of a baby one before it quickly returned into the bush, presumably scared off by Mum and Stu's touristy hats!

We'd been walking for over 2 hours by the time we reached Resolution Bay, and we were ready for a drink. We therefore headed inside the cafe for a filter coffee, just as a downpour occurred outside...nice timing! We got talking to a Welsh girl who had been cycling along the track with her dog, and needless to say I had a quick play with her (the dog that is!).

Once the rain had stopped, we set off again, calling at a portaloo that my Mum didn't find too endearing. As I kept reminding them, we were "roughing it!"

As usual on the South Island, we were surrounded by amazing scenery, but Stu's highlight probably came when we spotted a dilapidated old Bedford CA along the track! He thought that given the chance, he'd be able to get it going! I took his photograph next to it while Mum continued walking in disgust! Joking aside, they were both impressed with the views, particularly when we detoured down to School House Bay to see the turquoise water.

The final stretch of the first day was quite easy as it was flat, and we called off at a couple of beaches as the sun was peeking out a little. The views were great as we walked along the side of Endeavour Inlet, with lots of illuminous green seaweed and mussels providing some contrast. By the time we reached Furneaux Lodge at 2.45pm, we were quite tired and ready for a few hours relaxation. Afterall, the next day was all set to be even tougher on the old legs!

The water taxi took us across the water to Mahana Lodge - one of my favourite backpackers in New Zealand. It was busier than on my previous visit when I had the place to myself, but the view was just as impressive. We all went for a quick wander along the beach in the evening, and then I continued on my own for a bit of alone time, finding a lovely, peaceful spot on the edge of the water.

I enjoyed some more peace and quiet in one of the hammocks, listening to my music while Mum and Stu relaxed inside. We attempted a jigsaw at one point, but we soon gave up as it was too difficult! By coincidence, a couple who I'd met at Shortbread Cottage were also staying there...but they didn't recognise me! I remembered this particular Japanese girl being a bit gormless, and this confirmed my suspicions! We also spent a bit of time talking to a Canadian couple, but it certainly wasn't late when we all went to bed...

It was great to wake up the next morning and see some blue sky. Our walk was only due to be about 9km, but it was on one of the most scenic parts of the 72km track. The nice weather really brings out the colour of the water, so I was in good spirits as we got chauffeured around to Torea Bay.

After hopping off the water taxi, we set off on an hour long treck uphill...and I mean uphill! It was tough going because it was so hot, but we kept stopping for breath and admiring the views. You have to put in the hard work to get the best views...no pain, no gain! In truth though, I'd underestimated just how steep this section was, but credit to Mum and Stu, they kept going and surprised me with their stamina - it must be all that dog walking back home!

When the track finally levelled out, we were really high up, walking along a ridge with the beautiful Kenepuru Sound below to our right. It was worth the effort for sure, and we stopped for lunch when we found a nice vantage point. We had 20 minutes but we couldn't hang around for too long as we were getting picked up in Mistletoe Bay at 3.30pm...

The following couple of hours involved a steady descent which was very welcome after our earlier exertions. Mum and Stu saw their first fantail, although it didn't follow us like it did last time. It was lovely and peaceful, and we kept walking until the turn off to Mistletoe Bay. This sidetrack involved a less defined track that wasn't maintained by the DOC, and it was steep and a little dangerous in places. We stuck together though, and eventually emerged into the deserted bay at 3pm...perfect timing again! I laid down and caught the sun, before our final ride arrived about 20 minutes later.

It took about an hour to get back to Picton as we picked people up from various different locations. It was nice sitting outside as the sun was still shining, and we all had that sense of achievement after completing a 25km walk over the course of 2 days. When the boat became busy, Mum moved out of the sun to let someone else sit there...and they duely got soaked with the spray off the water! So I guess it's swings and roundabouts after our unexpected shower at the Abel Tasman!

We returned to our luxury motel that evening and did very little indeed. We brought a takeaway back with us, relaxed infront of the TV, and rested our weary bones. Stu and me watched Phonebooth, although I could barely keep my eyes open towards the end, so I had a reinvigorating shower before calling it a night.

I'd certainly enjoyed walking on the Queen Charlotte Track again, and more importantly, so had Mum and Stu. We'd had a lovely first week together, experiencing some great things, and we still had lots to look forward to as we headed towards the rugged west coast...
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