Rakiura – the Northwest Circuit
Ive just found out that I have a new job in Nelson, and I have to move immediately! But my best friend and tramping buddy Matt is on Stewart Island. I race to catch up – have to see him and fit in a tramp before I go!
Day 1- Fly to Stewart island (delayed 2hrs by Invercargill fog). Walk to Lee Bay where the national park entrance looks good after I put so much effort into it back in 2002. DOC still haven’t fully repaired the hole shot in the sculpture by a drunk shotgun wielding local though! Camp at Murray beach.
Day 2 – Walk through wonderful Rimu forest, over headland and along beach. The first section of NW circuit is bushy, without many views and with increasing mud. But you still get that Rakiura feel- NZ’s most primevil, untouched intact ecosystem. A place to escape from the world, step back in time, one of my favorite places. A rocky beach, a steep muddy climb, then the first big sand dunes at Smokey beach.In the plastic hunters biv there lie Matt, Anna and Annas bro, who is laid up with a sprained ankle. The peril of heavy packs! Next morning he and Anna leave by boat.
Day 3 – A muddy stroll to East Ruggedy beach. The highlight of northern Rakiura! Jagged islands, dark Ruggedy skyline…and a comfy hut to sleep in. Last visit we slept in the sea cave on West Ruggedy – great fun with a howling driftwood bonfire being sucked out of the cave by vicious westerlies… and Matt trying to flush the rats out with an explosion of white sprits!
Day 4 – The mud thickens. Another bonus of running shoes- lighter when muddy than boots. Hellfire pass hut is a base for the excitement of downhill dune running – a 300m descent at full speed, leaping over pingao and doing out bit for erosion.
Day 5 – On to Mason Bay. No ambergris found- does it really exist? Then our usual scrounge in the Hunters hut for goodies.
Day 6 – Cruisy walk over the hill and a camp at Patterson Inlet
Day 7 – Back to Oban and the ferry to Bluff. I love the ferry – the gumboot clad, tough weathered southland passengers are great. Like the guy standing steadfast right in the path of the drain from the boat roof. His bulldog desparately looked for shelter but he didnt move an inch the whole trip!