IMG 0265

Queen Charlotte Track: Day 3

Punga Cove to Portage Bay
Today was a big day; we had 25km to cover travelling up to and along the ridge between Queen Charlotte Sounds and Kenepuru Sounds.

We started the days walk straight after breakfast, since the restaurant is part way up the hill. Breakfast was lovely overlooking Endeavour Inlet as we ate. Unfortunately we couldn’t find the track from the restaurant, the signs to the track disappeared and all we could see was a car park & road. Confused we had to ask for directions at the restaurant; eventually one of the staff members knew where to go. Apparently the track is in fact further up the road, So we were in the right area, we just needed to continue past the car park and up the road for about 10 minutes.

On the road we saw a pair of quails pecking for food, flying away once we got too close. We also saw tuis, wood pigeons, and what we thought was a kokako fly overhead into the trees. Turns out it was extremely unlikely to be a kokako, since they were deemed extinct in the South Island a few years by DOC, plus they are not very good flyers. Even after researching other likely candidates I’m not sure what we saw.

The road and path continued steadily upwards, our efforts being rewarded with great views down Kerepuru Sound. Still further onwards and upwards we saw amazing views at what seemed like every corner over both Queen Charlotte & Kerepuru Sounds. It was great walking weather with high cloud cover and a light breeze moving over the ridge. The high cloud resulting in both sounds looking steely grey.

IMG 0265Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Kenepuru Valley leading to Kenepuru Sound

One of the better view points high up on the ridge was signposted as “Magic View” with beautiful views over Deep Bay. We spent some time here taking photos, watching the ever present weka, and polishing off a piece of carrot cake for morning tea – yum.

IMG 0286Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Yacht coming into the Deep Bay

Pressing onwards we passed a weka nest, we assumed it was a weka nest by the weird grunting coming from the undergrowth, which almost sounding like pigs. Our theory was confirmed once the male weka popped out; unfortunately we didn’t see the chicks. We also had the pleasure to watch a family of fantails; I was confused at first by the black one, I thought it might have been a NZ robin until the tail was displayed and another fantail gave it some food. After some research it turns out that the south island has a black variation of the fantail – learnt something new.

IMG 0306Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Half Way; another milestone complete

We stopped at the Bay of Many Coves shelter for lunch. We joined other walkers that were resting for lunch too, they were all doing a one day walk from Torea Saddle to Punga Cove; two of which were a UK couple (English & Welsh) doing their OE in NZ.

This is the first day we saw cyclists on the track. We didn’t mind the cyclists (other than the very noisy family disturbing the peace at the Magic View), since they generally just passed by without any hassle. We did decide though that you would get more out of the track with walking opposed to cycling; a few times we were passed at a lovely view where the cyclists just carried on past, we were there to take in the environment while the cyclists would not hear the bird song over their own noise, neither of us are mountain bikers so the thought of cycling some of that track was just down right scary. The advantage cyclists had over us though is the 25km day would go past much quicker. Funnily we were overtaken by a couple of cyclists while we stopped to take in the view, only to overtake them shortly afterwards as they pushed their bikes up a steeper section of the track, they commented on the fact we wouldn’t see them again once they got to the downhill, they were right.

The rest of the afternoon we walked along the undulating ridge, marking off the 5km milestones as they went past. Our views over Queen Charlotte changed from Bay of Many Coves to Ruakaka Bay, Blackwood Bay, then Kumutoto Bay. We also spotted 3 ferries making their way through the sounds. Over on the Kenepuru side we started seeing Mussel Farms – marked by the dark black lines in the water.

IMG 0322Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Blackwood Bay with Picton in the distance

We were aiming to have afternoon tea at Blackwood shelter, but it seemed to take forever to arrive. The backup plan was to settle for a bench somewhere with a view, but this didn’t materialise either; we came to the conclusion that several more benches need to be installed along the track as they are very few and far between. In the end we settled for sitting in the grass on top of one of the hills. A small group of cyclists stopped to chat, they were heading towards Torea Saddle too and confirmed, what we suspected, that we still had about 8km to go. We must have looked knackered as they checked up if we were OK and if we needed anything. We were just fine – just needed to rest the feet.

We had calculated that when the last marker (21km) for the day arrived, it would mean we only had 500m left on our poor sore feet. But when we got to the end of the track at Torea Saddle we discovered that we had an additional 700m to reach our accommodation.

Our poor tender feet made the extra distance to the hotel. Again we were warmly greeted by the hotel staff, shown to our comfortable room where our bags were safely stowed. After a long day we were pretty hungry and tired so made an early reservation at the restaurant, just enough time to have a shower and freshen up.

Since this was our last night together (we were both heading home at the end of the last day), we decided to celebrate our achievement tonight with a small bottle of bubbly each. We chose the Lindauer Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, which was very nice and drinkable. The meal was lovely, but I did have problems with my lamb salad where the lamb was overcooked to the point of being very dry and chewy. Unfortunately I had to send the salad back twice before changing to a different dish. The chef apologised saying that the lamb was from a different source to normal and that the dish would be removed from the menu for the evening. I don’t normally send back food, but for the prices we were paying I wasn’t going to settle for tough meat! After waiting for the 2 extra dishes to be cooked, it turned into a late night and sleep was calling.

Posts created 83

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top