February 9, 2018
START: Ship Cove @ 1055
FINISH: Black Rock Campsite @ 2005
DISTANCE: 41.5 + 1.5 km
CUMULATIVE: 251 km
So I learned some interesting things during my water taxi out to Ship Cove. Apparently the Marlborough Sounds are, and have been for quite some time, gradually sinking due to tectonic activity, which is quite common in NZ. Estimates reflect that the sounds most recently dropped a few more centimeters due to the Kaikoura earthquake in 2016. The Marlborough Sounds used to be a vast river valley network that included many drainages and tributaries. As the land has dropped, the sea has encroached and drowned out the valley, leaving only the mountain tops and the many little coves. The coastline of the Marlborough Sounds accounts for upwards of 20% of New Zealand’s total coastline, which speaks to the vastness of the originally valley catchment. Sometimes it's fun to nerd out.
Caught sight of more jellyfish during this morning’s sailing. Seems I’ve seen scores now. Also got to see (for the first time!) a NZ fur seal swimming about with his breakfast. Pretty cool watching him twist and turn and tumble in the emerald water. Big morning for wildlife. Once we landed at Ship Cove, I left my pack at a table and set out to find a cool spot for my "TA Start" photo. Didn’t care for the official Ship Cove Monument, and instead opted for the Maori totem pole. When I returned to my gear, I found a weka pecking at my pack. Curious, annoying little buggers- like marmots in the High Sierra. I’ve seen many during my time here so far.
Hiking the Queen Charlotte Track has been incredible. The views from high above the sounds are fantastic, and the clear skies and calm waters have made for some lovely photos. Even took the little (steep!) side trip up to Eatwell Lookout despite my suspicion that the hype was overplayed. I was wrong. The view was absolutely stunning, my favorite from the day! There were a handful of other great views into the sounds from the ridge walk between Bay of Many Coves and Black Rock Shelter.
Unfortunately, there was no water in the rain catch basin at the Bay of Many Coves, so I was pretty dehydrated by the time I covered the last 9.5 k’s to camp. I chugged a full liter and quickly filtered another. It had been 17.5 k’s since my last sip of water. Helluva way to start my thru hike, haha. What a freakin rookie move. Anyways I’m here now and couldn’t be happier. Damn, I’m tired. I’m looking out over the sound and can see Picton in the distance. With the sun setting, there are lights twinkling throughout the small community. It’s pretty cool to think that I left there just this morning.
February 10, 2018
START: Black Rock Campsite @ 0700
FINISH: Havelock @ 1615
DISTANCE: 42.5 + 1 km
CUMULATIVE: 294.5 km
Didn’t sleep well last night due to a particularly active couple of possums that kept creeping into the shelter throughout the night. The first time it happened way back at Lake Waikaremoana was cute. Definitely not cute anymore. Felt a little grumpy getting out my bag this morning before reminding myself that I’m the guest in their house, and that I can’t blame them for trying to score an easy meal. Life’s hard out here in the bush. This afternoon I saw a yellow jacket eating a beattle alive, which quickly put my frustration into perspective. Now THAT’S a rough day. Not only did my trouble last night qualify as a first world problem, it qualified as a dominant species problem. All things considered, I’m living a charmed life out here.
Cruiser miles all the way into Anakiwa, arriving before noon and pressing straight through to Havelock, a further 19 k’s along the road. By the time I was through Anakiwa, the rain had started falling lightly and continued to fall intermittently the rest of the day. It was actually really nice, because the day so far had been pretty warm despite the overcast skies. I welcomed the cool, clear pebbles and was grateful that it wasn’t a downpour.
After purchasing a few treats, I enjoyed lunch outside of a convenience store. (One of the perks of road walks.) As road walks go, I was generally pretty satisfied with this one. It was a mix of roadway and graded paths. After busting out a few big days weaving in and out of drainages on the QCT, I was happy to have smooth pavement underfoot wherever possible. Walked up and over a pass before arriving at SH6 a short distance before it passes through Havelock. Decided to take a quick side trip out to Cullen Point, but found that the views from the road were actually better. Got my first glimpse of Havelock from that little side trip, so that was exciting. Found myself in town a short half hour later at about a quarter after four.
Given the weather that’s expected to roll in, I opted to stay at a local backpacker where I met a gentleman who assured me that it’s totally unreasonable to expect to do big distances on the TA. “It’s far more difficult than American trails,” he told me. I agree that it’ll be more challenging, and I have my doubts that I won’t be able to continue to cover 40-50 k’s per day. My PCT mileage was substantially higher than that, so I have high hopes. Guess we’ll see soon enough.