Ship Cove to Havelock
Sunday 5th February 2012:
Ship Cove to Punga Cove
Just getting to Ship Cove was an adventure in itself! In order to meet our early morning transport booking we woke to the sound of our alarms at 5:45am. Our mission had begun!
The night before, John and Pippa had kindly laid out quite a spread of breakfast for us. Muesli, fruits, biscuits and toast with multiple spreads to choose from. If only we had more time to eat it all. We tip-toed around, trying hard not to wake everyone but minutes later John and Pippa came through to greet us and offer their support. John was kind enough to lend me his iPad to do some last-minute checking of funds on Ken’s Traverse NZ account. While Kenyon organised our packs for an efficient hike – I made sure we were financially sound for the week ahead. Ken and I have both been quite happy with how his ANZ bank account has worked out so far. We had organised it in Queenstown when we first arrived in New Zealand and while it took a little more time and effort to set up than we had planned for, it provides the convenience of keeping expenses local, ie. no foreign exchange fees! So thank you John for the use of your handsome iPad. A nice little slab of precision to travel with and had you not been present at the time I was dibbling and dabbling on it, I may have accidentally packed it in Ken’s backpack? What then?
If felt like we were always saying goodbye to the Phillips. Between the two of us, we had said goodbye to John and Pippa four times since early 2011. It was time for our fifth goodbye. We headed for the jetty just seven minutes walk away. Along the way one of the locals warned us that we would be up for a speeding fine if we kept walking as fast as we were. We had a good laugh which is always a good way to start any day of the week. We checked in and coughed up $129 for two passes to Ship Cove (50 minute trip). Cougar Line offers a reliable service which runs on time. Their vessel is also in good condition which makes a difference. Within minutes, we were on board – eager to get chuggin’.
Released from the bollards we set off for Ship Cove. Not long into the journey, our water taxi ducked into Arthurs Bay to pick up a couple of passengers from the “Bay of Many Coves Resort” – a quiet, posh standing resort. Our ride then took off, picking up speed as it rounded Snake Point.
From Snake Point it was only another fifteen kilometres to our destination. We rounded the corner into Ship Cove. We had arrived to the spot we had both talked about a couple of years ago. As Cougar Line made fast to the jetty, Ken and I geared up and disembarked by the bow.
On this day, mist was silently playing it’s part in the unveiling of New Zealand’s South Island. We realised that apart from the others on the boat, not another soul was in sight. Our ride then made an about turn and minutes later we were truly left to our own devices. We started chatting about how Captain Cook would have taken a liking to our Satellite GPS. We both would have enjoyed showing him how it worked, especially the man overboard button. Quite handy for coping with dissension in the ranks. Just throw em overboard for 24hrs before magically returning to pick em up.
As we quietly ignored the yacht that had just drifted up alongside us – the atmosphere, apart from the occasional sound of electronic bilge pump, was very 1700’s. We took photos from the jetty before heading around to the Cook Memorial. We paid our respects to this great explorer before munching on “One Square Meals”. Delicious!
Ken then pressed down on the start button of his GPS and took his first steps towards conquering the South Island. As we made our way south through the tree-lined cove we thought of what the area must have been like in the days of Captain Cook’s first voyage. Apart from the jetty, the flat grass lands and the memorial – it couldn’t have been much different to how it stands now.
Captain James Cook spent a total of 328 days exploring the New Zealand coastline during his three voyages. Cook mapped the outline of New Zealand with considerable accuracy. The initial purpose of Cook’s voyages was to observe the Transit of Venus in Tahiti and then search for a great southern continent which was believed to exist – Terra Australis (Latin for “the unknown land of the South”). A hypothesised continent appearing on European maps from the 15th to the 18th century. Cook was to return to Ship Cove in Queen Charlotte Sound, on five separate occasions. He spent over 100 days there, as it provided safe anchorage, food and fresh water and timber for repairs to his ship.
Cook’s First Voyage involved a six month-long circumnavigation of Aotearoa/New Zealand. His ship, the Endeavour, sailed into Ship Cove, on 16 January, 1770. He described it as a “very snug cove” and recorded that: “The number of Inhabitants hardly exceeds 3 or 400 people, they leive (sic) dispers’d along the Shores in search of their daly (sic) bread, which is fish and firn (sic) roots for they cultivate no part of the lands”. (Journals of Captain Cook, 6 February, 1770). Errors repeated intentionally.
After hiking up the first incline from Ship Cove a hot spot was quietly developing on my right heel. Should I pipe up and say something? We were only minutes into the hike. I didn’t want Ken to think I was that soft! We stopped to sort it out. Ken reached into his pack for his first aid kit. Always the organised hiker, I was effortlessly handed a pre-cut piece of Moleskin. After I positioned the Moleskin to my heel Ken reinforced it’s adhesive by taping the top and bottom edges using Leukotape. He then sectioned off some Hikers Wool and doubled it over. I inserted the wool into my sock and around my heel. I laced up and with our packs back on we continued upwards. With my first step I felt instant relief and true comfort at the same time. I was hiking with a veteran who had learnt some valuable tricks to a successful hike. It’s not just what to carry for when you need it, but also knowing when and how to apply it. We spoke about how different Ken’s traverse would have been had he applied the same materials to his feet early in on his hike in the Raetea Forest (Far North). Ken felt that had he done so, he would have completed the hike we were currently on in early January.
After some more uphill slog, we reached a beautiful look-out over Resolution Bay and commenced our descent towards it. Near the shoreline, a gate suggested that we would be passing through a section of private land. A little later a sign advertising coffee and muffins signalled the presence of private enterprise at work. It wasn’t too hard to resist at all as we had gone to the trouble of packing other such tempting delights! Sardines on dry crackers!
As we approached Fernaux Lodge a rich brown mottled Weka spotted us and came forth in true Weka fashion. The Weka are known for their curiosity and feisty, bold personalities. This one was showcasing all three. It wanted food and was fairly intent on obtaining its share. We decided not to feed it and continued hiking but our Weka friend followed closely. We picked up the pace until our feathered friend surrendered and returned home.
We stopped for lunch at Fernaux Lodge. Surrounded by well maintained grounds we entered the bar but were told that the kitchen had just closed. After seventeen kilometres who would have wanted a fresh Wagyu Beef Burger anyway when our sardines on dry crackers were calling from deep within our packs. Yuuummmm!
After shifting our sardines slightly forward from the inside our packs to the inside of our stomachs, – we loaded up and rejoined the trail for another six kilometres before reaching our accommodation at Punga Cove. We arrived, to quite unexpected luxury. Our A-frame bungalow had water views! What better place to rehydrate some tasty Back Country food. We would have stayed another night but we had to keep moving. Winter would be closing in on Kenyon soon. A day spent relaxing here would mean a day spent in the snow further south which would mean having to carry more gear. More gear equals more weight and therefore less ground covered per day.
Monday 6th February 2012: Punga Cove to Portage
We woke up in our A-frame bungalow to one of the nicest breakfast mixes we’ve ever created. The mix consisted of the usual rolled oats mix but for the special Queen Charlotte – we had added “Clever Clusters” (basically a toasted granola of some sort with little rice balls in it). Ken had conveniently chilled some powdered milk overnight in the mini fridge. We also found a few mini cartons of long life milk in the fridge and added them to the mixture. This helped make the milk – “milkier”! It was also nice to lighten Ken’s load a little as he was, without a doubt, carrying the majority of food.
After breakfast, and free from our backpacks, we took a short walk up the footpath to explore our surroundings. Along the way we looked down on the boats in the bay and people loading and off-loading packages for the day. We then headed back down to our bungalow, collected our bags and went down to reception to ask for directions on the best way out. The best way out was back up the steep hill which we had just come down. Without complaining we got straight onto it. After reaching the top of the hill for the second time we turned right, followed the stairs up and headed under five wooden trestles which lead us to the dirt road which took us out of the cove. On the way up we saw how our bags would have been treated had we opted to have them transported for us. This wiry looking guy was towing a trailer behind his quad bike, speeding up and over every bump as if the trailer wasn’t attached. The trailer was doing a mighty fine job of juggling people’s backpacks – straight out of a circus tent!
We soon reached a wider unsealed road and followed it up to the top of the hill which was actually Kenepuru Saddle. We then headed up the ridge line which brought us to an opening where we looked over a valley of flat land. After another 6.7km we reached a shelter which had a fresh water supply. This shelter looked over the Bay of Many Coves (Miritu Bay). What a great view! We took our packs off which our feet just loved, particularly mine. We took photos of the view and treated four litres of water using Ken’s Steripen which was quite nice to see how it was done. We then filled four Platypus bottles and mixed in electrolytes. This shelter was perfect! Great views and plenty of water. We could have easily stayed there for the night.
After this point things started to get tough. Kenyon was making me laugh to the point where all my strength had evaporated from my legs which were already tired from hiking alone. The uphills were becoming impossible. It’s nice to know that when you’ve known someone for your entire life and they still know exactly how to bring the laughter out in you. I must have done a years worth of laughing in fifteen minutes.
In the planning stage I imagined a lot of this hike to be more or less flat along the ridge but this was the hilliest hike I had come across. You just wouldn’t know it by looking at the map as the contours give the impression of the track being relativity flat.
The next three bays to the south of the ridge (Ruakaka, Blackwood and Kumutoto Bays) were magnificent to look down upon. The lighting on the headlands in the distance highlighted their existence. It made for easily identifying each bay. Once we reached Ruakaka Bay we could then see straight through to Picton. Out of all the bays we looked down on, the Bay of Many Coves was probably the nicest. The elongated point protruding out protected the bay, providing calm waters to passers-by.
Seven kilometres further on from the shelter we stopped for a snack. We had covered about 14.6km and still had a further 6.4km to Portage. We ate more of our trail mixes and downed “One Square Meals” for extra energy. This is what we would tell ourselves anyway – that we needed the energy. A good enough excuse to open another OSM. They’re delicious! I got out my iPhone and played some music. It was a nice shady spot and our legs hung over the edge of the trail providing our feet with much relief.
We got on with it and soon we reached Torea Rd. We were now on tarmac. A few hundred metres down the hill we came across The Portage Resort Hotel. With other establishments in the near vicinity, we were a little confused as to which one it was but this was just because we were tired. After picking our keys up from reception, we got to the room and found that Avatar was showing on one of the channels. We watch it while eating our Back Country dinners. A great way to finish off a perfect day!
Tuesday 7th February 2012: Portage to Anakiwa
We left the hotel at 10:55am – quite a late start but the days hike would be fairly level towards the end. We walked up the sealed road to the saddle and from there we made our way up to the 407m peak. We met a Dutch couple on the way up and they were intrigued with how far Ken had hiked and that he was only just over the halfway mark. They wished Ken good luck for his remaining journey. Later we stopped for a rest at the 416m peak on the map near Te Mahia. From this rest stop we looked down the hill onto Mistletoe Bay and beyond to Onahau Hill (555m). We could see where the track lay ahead and chose our next rest stop – a green grass clearing another 5km away. We both felt privileged to be hiking in such a scenic part of the world.
On our way down to Mistletoe Bay a number of mountain bikers sped past us. The tracks were quite steep in this area and they kept to their highest gears. We reached the sealed road and crossed it. We came across Outward Bound who had a group of youths repairing the track. We told them what a great job they were doing and that it was the best track we had walked on so far from Cape Reinga. They believed us too and so they should have as they had removed all the rocks and roots for a good 200m that day.
We reached our grassy rest stop and just as we took our packs off, down came the rain. Ken had a good idea to take cover under some of the bushes just off the track. We raised my cheap $2 umbrella and had our lunch under a perfect shelter. Mountain bikers were passing us but didn’t realise that we were right there on the side of the track – just two feet away from them. We finished lunch and the rain stopped. We had 6 or 7km to go before reaching the end of the QC Track.
The last 6km of track was a gradual decent down towards Anakiwa, a really nice way to finish off any trail. It’s very much like the start of the Routeburn Track (around Sugarloaf Stream). At the end of the walk we took a photo of the sign and then looked out for our Backpacker accommodation which we were booked into. As we didn’t have the iSite vouchers readily available we kind of just made our way up the path to the house. A sheep dog barked at us on approach but he was just doing his job and soon warmed to being our friend. I made my way into the house and found three male guests sitting in the living room. All was quiet. Men can be very quiet sometimes. Once we were both inside we got on with “quietly” making our dinner. This was quite a nice place for a Backpackers we both thought. The guys became more friendly as time passed.
Dinner went down well and as we were chatting with the guys, the owners walked in and were surprised to see five guests in their home when there was only room for three. Two of the guests had walked into the wrong backpackers. I wonder which two it could have been? Turned out – it was the two of us! We really should have checked our vouchers. We still had another 500m to go before reaching the Backpackers further down the road! At first it was a little awkward as we had been using their facilities, but when everyone found out that Ken was hiking the length of New Zealand they became curious and wanted to know more. It would have been the better place to stay as we had struck up some good conversations. I guess it had just started to feel like home.
Wednesday 8th February 2012: Anakiwa to Havelock
After breakfast and figuring out that we weren’t going to figure out how to get the TV going (with five remotes and no instructions), I then got talking to Guert, a German guy, and his wife Angelique. They were about to leave on a cycling route which looped Mt. Bolton. We set off at the same time as them but headed off in opposite directions and there was a chance of crossing paths with them later in Linkwater.
The morning was slightly overcast and the water was lapping away at the edge of Okiwa Bay as we walked alongside it. We found the Te Araroa Track which ran parallel to the road. It would have been fairly easy to miss as it was below road level and hidden by thick bush. I’m sure for Ken it was just another road to hike but I found myself to be fairly entertained. Ken pointed out a “Farm Race” where farmers shunt their live stock from one farm-yard to another which are often on opposite sides of a main road.
It was a long straight road through the middle of Linkwater. We planned on hiking Peak A7FC at height 431m which laid straight ahead of us for a good two hours. Neither one of us really wanted to hike up such a hill but it was marked out on Kenyon’s map and there’s something nice about achieving what we had planned months ago. So we crossed the sealed road and headed into a dark narrow entrance to the track that lead it’s way up the hill. It was going to be steep and possibly overgrown? IT WAS STEEP AND O-V-E-R-G-R-O-W-N! Gorse everywhere. In a couple of areas the gorse was so thick it forced us onto the edge of the track in areas of landslides. With less than a foot wide track to navigate, it became a little tricky. Falling down the land slide here would have been anything but entertaining.
The hill reminded us both of a hill we hiked up when we were eight years of age. It was dry and dusty with very little shade. Ken and I both find that we’re often thinking about the same things at exactly the same time. We can so easily talk about things without having to describe every detail as for most of our lives the other was present. Needless to say, the efficiency of our conversations means that sometimes they’re over before they’ve had the chance to begin. It’s just part of growing up together which we’re still doing.
We were working hard and were expecting some pretty awesome views from the top but in the end they were just ok. Not really worth the heat and sweat. If we had our time over again we both would have taken the road around and probably would have arrived in Havelock minutes earlier. A time saving tip for other hikers out there!
As we walked into Havelock it felt strange to be back in the place we were driving through earlier in October. To think Ken had hiked all the way down from Cape Reinga – a distance which took us days to cover in our motorhome! We had finally reached The Rutherford YHA.
For dinner we went down the road to one of the pubs on the main road. The fight was showing live on TV. Sonny Bill Williams against Clarence Tillman which only lasted one half round. Once the fight came to a holt, so did Havelock. An early night for not just the two of us, but the entire town.
After sorting through Ken’s supply box. The manager of the YHA offered us a lift to Blenheim as the local supermarket down the road didn’t have much to offer.
Blenheim was busy. Lots of shops scattered around. After withdrawing some cash, we then went to the New World Supermarke. It took almost an hour to find most of which was on our shopping list.
Back at our accommodation in Havelock we consolidated the dehydrated meals into single lock-seal packets which would minimise the weight of carrying multiple packages and would also make things easier to pack inside Ken’s backpack. This was a routine he had done many times before and it showed.
Our YHA room was too small to sit in for more than half an hour at a time so we went down to the same pub to get on with some of the posts for the blog.
Thursday 10th February 2012: Departing Havelock
We woke up at 6am and quickly finished packing in order to meet my transport back to Picton. Still half asleep I strapped my pack on for the last time on this trip and stepped outside the backpackers. The bus was right on time. We said a quick goodbye before I got onto the bus. As I sat down the bus took off. I looked back again to see if I could see Ken. I saw him wave and then he turned to head down the road. All I could see was his heavy load of a backpack which towered over him and two legs walking down the road.
As the bus kept to it’s schedule, I sat looking out of the window thinking of the distance Ken would be covering in the time I would spend back at home in Sydney. The plan was to meet up with him in Wanaka which we have both been looking forward to. One of the qualities I like about my brother, is that he’s incredibly reliable. When he says he’ll be somewhere to meet me – I know I can count on him being there. So Wanaka it is!
One part of our stay at The Rutherford YHA which we found interesting is that the room down the hallway from us was originally used as a school classroom and that Ernest Rutherford had been taught there for a number of years.
In 1908 Rutherford was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances.”
Rutherford coined the terms ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’ to describe the two different types of radiation emitted by uranium and thorium. He also observed that radioactive material took the same amount of time for half of it to decay, known as its “half life”.
The element ‘rutherfordium’  was named in Rutherford’s honor.