We officially started the South Island today. We’re expecting to finish this island a little quicker than the North (probably closer to 60 days vs 70 days), but we’ll see depending on weather and other factors. We’re certainly racing to be done by end of April and hopefully before it gets to cold or any major winter storms come through.
After a quick breakfast at the hostel (not realizing there was a great pie shop next door that was open), we headed down to the wharf and linked up with the boat company to shuttle us out to Ship Cove. The ride was about an hour and there were a lot of day trippers on the boat with us. It was scenic but cold so we sat inside and kept warm for most of the ride but did see some Hector’s dolphins come really close to the boat. Ship Cove was where Captain Cook landed and did a bunch of things way back in the day.
We stopped at Ship Cove for about 20 minutes walking around and taking a few touristy pictures. We also met the Weka, a native New Zealand bird that will steal all your stuff if it can.
The Queen Charlotte Track is a Great Walk so we were expecting lots of people but good tramping track. There were a decent number of people but with the recent cyclone probably less than we might’ve seen. Unfortunately that also meant the track was in slightly worse condition. There was a lot of water and mud to navigate around and we both had to get our new shoes dirty. The views were pretty great and we climbed quickly up to a saddle with a lookout point over the bays.
The track continued largely in this way with some up and downs and occasional good views out over the sounds. We did pass a good amount of people (both day hikers and people with larger packs). Eventually we hit a nice bench and quick stop for lunch.
After another hour or so of some great views and easy hiking we hit the Favreaux Lodge. A lot of the day hikers would be staying here (when they eventually arrived) and it was a pretty luxury resort. We stopped for a nice afternoon coffee and a quick soak in the sun on the veranda.
After our leisurely afternoon break we got going on the last 10km to camp. This was pretty easy and very similar to the rest of the day. A few ups and downs to keep us warm but nothing out of the ordinary and on nice easy track.
It was a pretty stunning days hiking with all the views we had. We were certainly grateful to be starting this after the storm had passed as well. We are noticing that it’s significantly colder in the mornings and evenings, not sure if that’s related to the South island or our location or just a short weather pattern. It does feel nice to not be sweaty at night though. The campground is a nice little spot with good tenting sites and a nice shelter to cook under. Unbelievably it even has flushing toilets.