Ben and Kirsteen's World Trip 2005/6 travel blog

K at the anchor chain

The first of many cable bridges

Our first night in a DOC hut

K negotiating the steps on the boardwalk

The ferns for which NZ is famous

B in the native scrub

Our second night's accommodation

Prepared for the 3rd (very wet) day's hiking

K: We got another bumpy ferry to Stewart Island but thankfully it was only 50 mins long and then we went straight off to get our passes for the Rakiura Track. The Rakiura Track is one of the 8 Great Walks of New Zealand and people generally do it over 3 days either camping or staying overnight in the huts.

The track follows open coast line, climbs a 300m forest ridge and traverses the sheltered shores of the Patterson inlet. Where the track starts there is a red sculptured anchor chain, this is because, in the Maori legend of Maui, Maui fished up the North Island from his waka (the South Island) and Stewart Island is known as the punga (anchor) of Maui's canoe.

The first day was clear and pretty easy to do as the weather was good. It was only Ben and I in the hut, although they were some campers near by. We were just thinking how beautiful and peaceful it was when 3 motor boats appeared out of nowhere filled with hunters and their brewskis! They didn't disturb us and to be honest our technique of trying to kiwi spot, flashing the torch into the undergrowth randomly wasn't going to work anyway.

They next day it had chucked it down and we understood why Stewart Island was famous for mud! We had to climb up high but thankfully there was a boardwalk in most places but we had to scramble up and over tree roots and we were knackered when we finally got to the hut. We shared the hut with another 4 people which was great to find up what everyone else was upto and what walks they had done.

We tried Kiwi spotting again, one of the couples we met had a really close encouter when one came up and sniffed the girl's leg. They told us and we copied them by sitting and staying still, after nearly an hour we gave up but we did hear them snuffling about!

For the last day the weather was unbelievable bad - full wet weather gear! We ended up trying to wait out the rain in a camp shelter, changing into our thermals (I have a lovely stripey purple pair) and eating one of our freeze dried "just add hot water" packet meals before we headed off again.

I have never enjoyed a shower so much when we finally made it back to the town. I am so chuffed that I managed this walk as it was a lot harder than I had expected to be and, to be honest, I really enjoyed it!

B: The walk was rated Moderate by the Department of Conservation (DOC). It proved to be a difficult walk for novices not used to multi-day hikes. We had to carry everything we needed for 3 days with us. This meant a large rucksack for me and a smaller but also heavy daypack for K.

The walk was very remote; once we left the town of Oban (population 350) we didn't see another house for 3 days. The first day on the track we saw only five other people. The path was undulating with endless boardwalk steps which gave us sore calves. There was no respite on days 2 or 3 so we got back very tired and aching. It was great to see the NZ bush as it used to be - we saw many native trees and birds no longer prevalent on the main islands.

We met another walker, Graham from Tasmania, who was on last day of 10 of the Northern Circuit track - that's proper hardcore hiking. We bumped into him again after we finished and went for a well-deserved beer and some local Blue Cod fish and chips.

We both enjoyed the multi-day walking experience that we are planning our next Great Walk already!

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