|Explore New Zealand South Island Stewart Island|
In February/March 2001 we went to New Zealand. Due to the fact that we /only/ had four weeks, we decided to skip the North Island.
After having arrived at Christchurch, we spent two nights there to recover from the journey. Then we took the train to Invercargill, arranged a minibus and the ferry for the next morning and went to sleep on a camp site next to a penetentiary.
Early next morning we were picked up by the minibus that took us to the docks. Everything went smoothly. After arrival in Oban (also known as Half Moon Bay) we went to the DOC office, got some information. We decided (then and there) that we were going to fly over to Mason Bay, walk to Freshwater Landing and take the watertaxi back. Now we still had the afternoon off, so we decided to take a watertaxi to Ulva Island.
Ulva Island was a great way to start. Unfortunately it is not allowed to spend the night on Ulva Island, seeing as it is a bird sanctuary. I for one would have liked to stay longer. The bush is so thick that you hear more than you see. We did several of the walks, since they were pretty short walks. They took us to places like Boulder Beach, Sydney Cove, the Snuggery and Roger Bay. Places which had great views.
Other than the great views, the amazing bush, the silence there was also the rich birdlife.
After a good night sleep, we went to the PostOffice, got a lift to the airstrip, placed our packs in the cessna, got in and flew of to the other side of the island. It is only an 8 minute flight, but the views are amazing. You actually see where you/ll be walking in a couple of days. A couple of minutes later Mason Bay Beach came into view. The pilot first made a low run over the beach to scare the birds off, turned round and then landed on the beach.
We went to the Mason Bay hut, where we pitched our tent. Part of the afternoon was spent hiking west on the beach towards /the gutter/. There was a hard, cold wind blowing, and I must say, I was glad to get back to the tent. I was still suffering from a bad case of jetlag. The clocks had turned completely on us. At home it would be 7 a.m. and here it was 7 p.m. And also I hadn/t slept well in several days. I had just figured out that my sleeping bag wasn/t warm enough to meet my needs. Later that afternoon, the sun was shining and it was incredibly nice and warm in the tent. I wrote a bit in my journal and then dozed of for a short warm sleep ... finally.
In the meantime Ray had been speaking to the hut warden, explained our plans, and taken her advice not to go to Hellfire beach, but make a day trip to Little Hellfire beach. It would still take longer than a trip to Hellfire beach, but we wouldn/t have to carry our packs. Especially since this was our first time out backpacking. We brought too much, and were carrying 21 kg packs, which was over 33% of my weight.
The next morning, after another cold night for me, we set out for Little Hellfire beach. There were several birds that just kept a wary eye on us, but didn/t move. Ray decided that he wanted a photo that showed them with their wings spread, so he pretended to run towards them. It didn/t quite work, but they did run with their wings spread. Purpose served, photo taken, mission accomplished we continued.
It was beach, boulder hopping (which isn/t my favorite, since I/ve twisted, sprained my ankles many, many times), more beach and more boulder hopping, after which we went into the bush. Up and up it went, through mud, climbing up mud walls, using mud steps, and ropes hanging down, ferns, tree limbs, roots etcetera. After encountering more and more mud walls I was dead tired, and I/d had it.
NO MORE. /You go on alone/, I said, /I/ll stay here and see you on your way back/. In the end I did continue, and was rewarded by the beautiful sight of Little Hellfire beach and the sea.
The way back wasn/t nearly as bad. I guess we/d gotten used to the amounts of mud and didn/t care much if we got dirty. Especially after Ray fell in the mud with his backside. After getting back to the tent and the hut we prepared dinner, sat down with the others and wrote in the journal.
There should be more to come, but that will be another article :)
article published 7/17/2001