MG 9207

South Island: The Queen Charlotte Track

Our last day on the South Island and we had booked to walk a section of the Queen Charlotte Track, being ferried out and back by Cougar Line water taxis of Picton. There were no mix ups with the booking for this water taxi and we were sitting on the wharf waiting to go onto our boat with plenty of time to spare. Leaving the backpackers had been easy enough, not many residents awake at the hour we departed.

The boat was small and there were only two additional passengers, both heading out to walk the first section of the Queen Charlotte track from Ship Cove to Endeavour Inlet. We were on a day trip that had us first dropped off at the Motuara Island Scenic and Historic Reserve and then another transfer to Resolution Bay from where we would walk on the Queen Charlotte around to Ferneaux Lodge in Endeavour Inlet.

On the journey out we stopped for a short while to watch a small pod of bottlenose dolphin playing in the channel. The dolphin played around the boat and could be seen jumping from the water as we moved away. One dolphin poked its head out of the water and checked us out on the boat which was a nice moment. After dropping the two other walkers at Ships Cove we were taken to Motuara Island and we disembarked for a few hours of walking.

MG 9207Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Wood pigeon on Motuara Island.

Motuara Island is a wildlife sanctuary and also a historical site of significance with a monument commemorating Captain Cook raising the British flag on 31st January 1770, taking possession of the South Island in the name of King George 3rd. There is currently only one public track on the island which spirals from the wharf to the top where there is a viewing platform to look over the island canopy out to the Sounds. We arrived during what seemed to be the bellbird morning chorus, there was a cacophony of singing surrounding us as we walked up the track. In addition to the copious bellbird we also saw a couple of wood pigeon and some friendly south island robins.

MG 9238Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A south island robin perches on Keryn’s walking stick.

MG 9240Photo by Brendon & Keryn

I think robins like having their photo taken.

At the top we took in the view, the sky grey and overcast and it was getting quite windy as well. The Captain Cook monument was next to the viewing platform.

MG 9254Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Monument to Captain Cook.

MG 9265Photo by Brendon & Keryn

An overcast view.

We took our time heading back towards the dock and had a snack at a small amphitheatre of seating built next to a small pool on the side of the track. Sitting here eating slice we watched bellbird and robin come in to either check us out or have a quick bath. A little way down the track there was a little blue penguin nesting box with one penguin, named Fish head, in occupancy. The penguin seemed mostly unconcerned as we opened the viewing door on the top of the box and peered inside.

MG 9345Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Watching a robin.

MG 9387Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A bellbird having just washed.

MG 9300Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Fish Head, a little blue penguin.

MG 9406Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Waiting for our pick-up.

We then waited for the next water taxi and soon enough were disembarking at Resolution Bay for our walk. We got everything comfortable for the tramp and off we went.

MG 9424Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Getting a walking pole ready.

MG 9450Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Curious weka.

MG 9469Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Heading uphill.

We had three hours or so to complete our part of the track and this was meant to be plenty of time. Turns out that if you walk steadily but stop regularly to check out the view, the vegetation and the wildlife and also have a half hour for a lunch stop that you’ll only just make it. We arrived at Ferneaux Lodge and had time, barely, to by an ice cream before we had to leg it to the wharf where our boat had already arrived.

Thankfully we did get to take in the views, check out interesting plants like track side orchids and supplejack flowers and berries. There were plenty of weka as well, one cheeky individual circling around looking for scraps as we ate lunch and even jumping up on the table when it though Phil was going to feed it.

MG 9488Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Lunch time.

MG 9512Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Lunch time guest.

MG 9548Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A stony beach in Endeavour Inlet.

MG 9549Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Making sure we arrive on time.

MG 9556Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Our destination.

We had time to relax on the journey back to Picton and arrived to light rain. We spent the rest of the afternoon looking in a few shops and having a drink at a cafe until it came time to head for the ferry. The boat ride was fairly smooth and the ferry wasn’t very full so we got to spread out a fair bit. the only sour point was when the last of the slice was dropped on the carpet and had to be trashed.

So that was out South Island trip for 2010. Having had a taste of the West Coast I think we’ll have to go back again sooner rather than later, and hopefully we’ll also get to see some New Zealand whales too, maybe even in Wellington harbour if the luck returns.

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