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Published: January 2nd 2012
Seals enjoying their afternoon swim.
Refreshed after a night spent in a bed and a shower in the morning, we left 17A Athol Ter. in Christchurch for the final time and strated our journey north. Registered to play in a beach ultimate frisbee tournament the following weekend in Nelson, we had 6 days to fill. Our plan was to visit the seaside town of Kaikoura before moving on to Picton to hike the Queen Charlotte Track.
Although worthy of a few-day stopover, we were only able to spend an afternoon. Kaikoura is situated right on the east coast and is often visited by those wanting to go deep sea fishing, whale or dolphin watching. The town is rather small but is filled with great restaurants, fish & chip shops and mom-and-pop kind of stores. We arrived around noon and spent about an hour wandering around town. Not being able to take the time to do the big ticket items previously mentioned, we set out to find a waterfall that came highly recommended. It was a 10 km drive north of town and rather close to the campsite we had found for the night. The waterfall alone was beautiful but it was the wildlife
He seemed happy to have an audience.
that truly gave it its allure. A stream about 1 km long ran from the waterfall to the ocean, which made the pools of water in and around the waterfalls ideal for mother seals to leave their pups while they went out to sea looking for food. We met lots of pups in the stream along the path to the falls, but when we finally reached the end of the path we were amazed to see upwards of 20 seal pups sunning, swimming, sleeping and playfully jumping near the falls. Although the hike into the falls and back could have been accomplished in less than 15 min, we easily spent an hour watching and photographing the playful pups. When the sandfly bites became too much to handle, we speedily returned to our car and made the short drive to our campground. We made sure to get a picture of Matt high-fiving one of the playful seals before our hasty departure though.
Queen Charlotte Track TrackMap
Although we had planned on carrying our packs and taking 4 days to walk the 71 km track, the lady at the info centre convinced us (thankfully) to have our packs delivered from
Surprise Dolphin Viewing
We did not expect to have a pod of dolphins join us alongside our boat.
campsite to campsite each day. Due to our reliance on a water taxi bringing us back to Picton at the end of the trail, we made the hike a 3 day adventure. The journey started with a 1.5 hr ferry ride. Although some people pay $100 to go dolphin watching, our ferry out was graced with a pod of 12 or more Bottle-Nosed dolphins playing in the wake of the boat. They followed us for a good 15 minutes jumping in and out of the water, some of them showing their impressive 12-foot length. Eventually they got bored and we went our separate ways. The ferry dropped us at a jetty in Ship Cove, where Captain Cook first made landfall in New Zealand. After the boat left there was nothing for us to do but start walking. Our first view was of the 71 km signpost, marking the work that laid ahead. The trail led up an down the hills and in and around the bays of Marlborough Sounds for the 26.5 km that we covered on the first day.
The second day was expected to be the most difficult. It was. Starting with a climb from sea level
Hard Work Rewarded
It was quite the endeavour getting to this lookout but it was well worth it.
to nearly 400 m elevation, we made our way to the ridge that traversed the spine of the Marlborough Sounds. The silver lining was the viewing that the elevation provided as we had a 360-degree vantage of the coastline that dipped in and out of the sound, forming beautiful aquamarine bays that define the region and its popularity. Although the 24 km walk ended in a steep downhill off the track to the campsite in Portage Bay almost 1 km away, dread lay for the next day knowing that we would have to backtrack back up that steep climb.
The views we saw the previous day were spectacular, but the highlight of the trip may have been the ride we were given by a staff member of the resort up the road from our campsite that carried us from sea level to 200 m. As he put it 'it's not part of the track, so you're not cheating.' Despite the assistance, we still had nearly 200 m more to climb before reaching the peak elevation of the Queen Charlotte Track. Once we passed the high point, it was fairly smooth sailing for the remainder of the 20.5 km hike
that day. Upon reaching the finish line, we each bought an ice cream, got in some suntanning, and Matt ventured into the icy waters of the sound as we killed time waiting for our water taxi back to Picton.
The weather was beautiful, the sights were stunning, but the best part of the three days was the sense of accomplishment that came from reaching the end (although the celebratory beer was pretty tasty as well).
After spending the night just outside Picton, we took our time waking up and making the short drive to Nelson. We spent the afternoon running some errands and getting reacquainted with the town we both love very dearly. Around supper time we drove to the suburb of Richmond where the parents of our friend Mike live and who had kindly agreed to host us and several other frisbee players for the weekend. It was obvious from the start that Bruce and Trish Jeffcott were excellent hosts as they had a fridge stocked with beer and had prepared a BBQ dinner rife with various meats. We spent the evening drinking beer, playing cards, and watching the New Zealand/Australia cricket test match.
The sign marking the finish line was a welcomed sight.
morning signaled the beginning of the beach ultimate tournament. Being a 'hat' tournament, the teams were formed semi-randomly in the hopes of making 10 equal teams, so we were not aware who we would be playing with prior to our arrival at the beach. We spent the day enjoying the sunshine, enduring the heat, and getting to know our teammates as people and as players. As the ability to use the beach as a playing surface was dictated by the tides, our day ended at 2:30 with us sporting a 5-1 record and we were able to use some of the remaining afternoon to play in the ocean. Saturday night meant party night, and although we had a fantastic time drinking with friends both new and old, the best part was undoubtedly getting Mike's mom Trish to do a jagerbomb with us before leaving for the party.
We awoke Sunday morning to rain, cold and wind. Not ideal ultimate weather. We endured the messy conditions and played our way to a 3rd place finish. More than anything, we were glad to get back to a hot shower. Although Mike and his girlfriend Toni were heading back to Christchurch that
Time to Relax
Any other day the water might have been unbearably cold, but on our final day it was a welcomed refreshment.
evening, Mike's parents convinced us to stay the night as opposed to leaving town an braving the rain in our tent. So we had more beers, sat down to a great family dinner and enjoyed getting to know Bruce and Trish a little better. We are grateful for their kindness and for helping to make our weekend great. With Nelson beach tournament complete, we set out on the final chapter of our New Zealand adventure, making our way towards the west coast.
Tot: 2.517s; Tpl: 0.059s; cc: 10; qc: 50; dbt: 0.0619s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb