Totaranui (Queen Charlotte Track)

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Days 1 & 2

We started our trek on the Queen Charlotte Sound with a ferry ride to Resolution Bay. I heard from someone that they had seen killer whales in the sound earlier in the morning, but we weren’t so lucky. Still, the ride was beautiful.

We were the only people camping at Resolution Bay besides the caretaker, Anna. We realized that it was solstice and we must enjoy ourselves. After we set up camp, we went down to the beach with a bottle of wine to talk and watch the tide roll in. We had a fire back at the camp, then went to sleep.

We woke up in the morning to a cloudy, windy day. We were a bit chilly as we broke down the tent and ate breakfast. We left our bags behind while we backtracked to Ship’s Cove, now appreciating the chilly weather that kept us comfortable as we hiked. The trail was actually a lot like the Abel Tasman track. The path was wide and smooth and wound around the ocean side. It could have used full sun to do it justice.

Ship’s Cove wasn’t exciting. It’s the beginning of the Queen Charlotte Track and the thru-hiker in us wanted to experience the whole trail, plus we had plenty of time so we might as well. There was an ugly, fat, white obelisk dedicated to Cook at the cove with a few sealed up old cannons in front of it. I like Cook a lot; the adventures he had were very impressive, and he ran a tight ship. His legacy doesn’t sit as well with me though. It’s as big as him leading the British to take New Zealand, and for me, it’s as small as him naming Totoranui the Queen Charlotte Sound. At Ship’s Cove, I was more impressed with the totem carvings that preceded the obelisk on the path. They were done in traditional Maori fashion with sweet opal eyes.

Anyways, we took some pictures and back tracked to Resolution Bay. With some furry canine company, we had second breakfast then finally headed south on the trail around 1pm. We were both feeling pretty tired and ended up hiking fairly slowly with a lot of breaks. We had plenty of time, so breaks were very welcome. We were trying to drag this hike past Christmas, but the food supply might dictate otherwise. We’ll see how it goes. I’m down for Christmas miracles.

Day 3

Another beautiful day of heel dragging. I don’t know why we get as tired as we do. It’s similar to when we did the Notch and passed out afterward, though not as intense. Besides the fact that we were dead tired, the hike was very nice. More of the same today, just with better weather.

There are a lot of these duck sized flightless birds roaming the bush. They have feet like chicken (not webbed) and a sharp, medium length brown beak. They are none-too-afraid of people. We camped at the Bay of Many Coves Campsite this evening and they are all over the place. We have to be careful about what we leave around, because if we leave anything unguarded, like say, a bag of trash, or a sandal, we will find them a few feet into the bush, if at all.

We could use nap stations along the way. Perhaps hammocks strung up, overlooking the sound. We would spend all day lounging in hammocks if we could. Instead we pass out when we sit down at picnic tables or benches. Maybe it’s good they aren’t very comfortable. We get our kilometers in.

Day 4: Christmas Eve

After hugging the sound for most of the trek, the trail rode atop the ridge for this whole day. There were lots of ups and downs and views of hills and ocean on either side of us.

A lot of the track runs through private land. There are signs saying when you are entering private land and that you need a pass to be permitted entry. We “forgot” to buy our passes and lucky thing, too. Turns out they are 20$ a head and no one ever checks if you have one.

Walking through the privately owned land on the track, we were bombarded with advertisements put up by the owners. Tourism is big business in New Zealand, and there are no lack of cafes and bed and breakfasts on the track reminding us of this. The opportunities to spend money were distracting and unappreciated by us.

We ended the day half a mile off trail down a hill at the Cowshed Bay Campground. The campground was nicely nestled on the water but unfortunately had a road going through it. We found out on the A.T. that shelters with road access can be wonderful when there is also a pizza place that is willing to deliver, but are generally less ideal because they attract crazy energy from the local area. We dealt with this at Cowshed Bay when four cars full of late teens pulled into the site next to ours and cranked up the tunes. We literally carried our tent across the campground to escape the noise.

Day 5: Christmas

Christmas can be a wonderful time to spend with family, eating feasts. But when you are starving, homeless, and thousands of miles from home, Christmas is a punch in the nose. The day turned out to be sunny and beautiful, with nice hiking and great views, but we were pretty weary at this point and had only a salami and some nuts to split between us.

Around noon we made it to the end of the track at Anakiwa. There was a beach full of families enjoying their Christmas. We passed a couple backpackers but decided to try to hitch out of town so we could buy some food. We stood on the side of the road with our thumbs while we watched clouds roll in. A kiwi picked us up and drove us 5km. He dropped us off at a campground because he thought we had no hope of getting to town. With rumbling tummies, we tried to catch another ride for a couple of hours. We gave up as the sky started to open up, checked into the campground, and set up our tent.

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