Day 70. Wellington to Picton. 0km on trail.
Another zero day but today we still get up early to catch our ferry. We pack up all the food we already bought for the Queen Charlotte Track (what a stupid idea, the supermarket in Picton is of course well stocked and not more expensive) and luckily only have to bring them down to the hostel entry where the shuttle bus picks us up for 3$ at 7.30am. The ferry check in is extremely efficient and at 8.15am we are already all seated on the ferry while the campervans are still lined up outside. We have a nice place at the window and I use the free Wi-Fi to call my sister (but soon have to stop as the connection is too bad). It’s very windy and cloudy so we fear a bad traverse of the Cook Strait. But it turns out it’s all fine in this big ferry, no sea sickness for Coco. We walk outside from time to time to enjoy a better view but the sky is very dark. The Marlborough Sound is beautiful anyway though. I use the time to calculate all the expenses, write up my blog for the last two days and too soon we arrive already at 12.30pm in Picton.
Our hostel sent a shuttle so we are very quickly at the Sequoia lodge, a nice little hostel where we even enjoy the luxury of our own ensuite room. We walk back into the town to organise our watertaxi for tomorrow with Beachcomber Cruises (they give a discount to TA hikers! It’s still 50$ though to be taken to Ship Cove. For Coco who needs a bag transfer it’s 5$ per bag per day). We also bought a lot of nice food for Christmas so it’s great they can do the transfer of an additional food bag for one day. As they are not operating on the 25th December though, on Christmas day here, it’s a bit more logistical challenge for us. Afterwards we buy dinner and go into the Dutch bakery to buy some cake and bread rolls for tomorrow. Back at the hostel we relax with some tea and for me the delicious, award winning carrot cake! (thank you to Julia and Samuel for the tip!). Then we soak in the hot tub and for once don’t mind at all that it’s raining. We are waiting for Peggy but she has problems to hitchhike from Nelson, where her plane landed earlier today, to Picton as it’s pouring rain there. She found shelter at a shop and the owner will take her later to Picton luckily. Just as we start cooking she finally arrives – it’s so good to see her again as well! We have an amazing dinner with vine, vegetables, potatoes, fish and just the best friends reunion! The hostel offers the free dessert, hot chocolate pudding with ice cream. Yummy. Completely full we go to bed.
Day 71. Picton – Ship Cove – Miner’s Camp. 15,5km. Total 1717km.
After a good dinner, a good but too short sleep, we have a perfect breakfast with our bread rolls and scrambled eggs with tomatoes. I hope all this good food now and even on the Queen Charlotte Track, Nelson and Golden Bay for New Year will give me back all the strength and resilience I need for the long stretches of dehydrated food that will be coming on the South Island until Wanaka. After longing for a break so many days, it’s finally here. My long rest, even though with some walking the next few days on the Queen Charlotte Track. But just easy tramping, at least I hope so.
The three of us are shuttled to the harbour where we board our ship at 9am. What a surprise to see Jellybean, Carbo, Jack and Caitlyn, the four Americans again. Even more of a surprise to see the French couple Elodie and Frank! Nice to chat with them again and to catch up. The sun is shining in between some white clouds, offering a spectacular view from the boat.
Just an hour later we arrive at Ship Cove, the starting point of the QCT. Some pictures and history information later we start into our 15km for today. The trail is super easy to walk even though a little muddy in between from all the rain yesterday. Nothing to worry about for me but Coco is not used to mud…
After 40 minutes we reach the first lookout, beautiful. An hour later we walk the 500m further off trail to the School house campsite to have our lunch there. It’s peaceful and we have the only lunch table all to ourselves. I boil water for coffee but the stove stops after a while. It seems there is some issue with the gas canister as I cannot shut it down. It has even melted part of my stove. I have to unscrew it anyway and just let all the gas out. I don’t have a clue if my stove will still be working, but for now there’s nothing I can do. I am sure they will help us out at the Miner’s Camp tonight for dinner.
So we continue, some 10km left today and it’s getting grey now with some showers.
We reach Endeavours Inlet and at 3.30pm Miner’s Camp and get offered to sleep in the “old but clean” caravan to avoid the rain… Well it’s old but not clean and after sitting in there for some time and not being comfortable but instead being attacked by sand flies we decide we rather sleep in our tents. We had booked one for Coco initially and so it’s no problem. There also is a nice cooking shelter with a table and we get a big pot of hot water so we can have our dinner, Backcountry cuisine and couscous with tuna.
Setting up the tents is fun as I am the only one used to it. We still chat for a while, Coco and I empty a bag of chips and some chocolate while Peggy resists. Bed time is 8.30pm and I am looking forward to a good night in my tent, so tired I cannot even finish to write my blog.