Queen Charlotte Drive-Pelorus Bridge Campground
Resupply at Havelock
Day 5: Queen Charlotte Drive to Mahakipawa Hill Scenic Reserve (9km, 3,5hours)
We spent the night at the backpacker in Picton and I had an amazing sleep on a really nice soft bed (not to say that my camping mat is not comfortable, but it’s all relative I guess). For breakfast I got some yogurt; after a week I was already starting to show signs of withdrawal. The post office is open now so we mail our food drop to St. Arnaud and at noon we head to the edge of town to hitch back to the point where we left the trail yesterday. We wait for a couple of hours, and even see the bus driver again who drove us in yesterday. But his bus is full with kids this time. Finally we get a ride, but only about halfway there. It’s 5 pm and the road is getting quiet. So far hitchhiking seems to be easier on the North Island. Some ducks show up to keep us company. In an attempt to fight off boredom, we catapult some pebbles across the road to see who can get farther. The ducks keep chasing them each time, apparently unable to learn from previous experience that this is not food. Finally a car pulls over. “Where are you heading?”, the guy asks in a heavy kiwi accent. He is going to Havelock and offers to take us all the way. We explain that we also want to go to Havelock but hat we will walk from the intersection, so if he could drop us there? He seems a bit surprised. I can imagine he thinks it’s a bit nuts to walk this, but when we explain that this is part of a tramping trail he seems quite enthusiastic.
From the intersection we have to walk a couple of kilometers on the road and then a very steep climb, following the power line maintenance track, up the hill in the Mahakipawa Hill Scenic Reserve. We set up our tent at the top of the hill from where we have a nice view over the valley and Havelock at the bottom. We enjoy the sunset and our cous-cous with trail mix meal.
Day 6: Mahakipawa Hill Scenic Reserve to Pelorus Bridge Campground (29km/9hours)
The next morning we walked into Havelock and found a nice place for a coffee and scones breakfast. There is also a supermarket here and we have to resupply for the next stretch. We have decided to combine the Pelorus River track and the Richmond Alpine track because there is no resupply point in between and otherwise we would have to hitch all the way to Nelson. But this does mean we have to carry ten days worth of food. So we race through the supermarket filling the baskets with lots of noodles, muesli bars and pasta. We are lucky: the Jelly beans are on sale.Ow, almost forgot the toilet paper, that would be unfortunate.
We leave the supermarket with a ton of food and very heavy packs. This is the first time that I’m carrying ten days worth of food; it’s a lot. The first few kilometers we have to walk on the shoulder of the highway, which is a bit scary at times but we have nice views. After that we turn right down a logging road which we follow for about 9,5 km until we reach Daltons Bridge. Some logging trucks pass by and the freshly sawed pinewood smells nice. At the same time it’s a bit of a shame that all these trees are being cut down and a lot of the hills have eroded. We find some dead possums on the road, we checked they weren’t faking it. Possums were introduced from Australia. They are a pest in New Zealand and the DOC (Department of Conservation) is working hard to get their numbers down.
After a couple of hours we reach Daltons bridge from where we follow Daltons Track on the bank of the Pelorus River through some privately owned farmland. Walking through the pastures we have to negotiate a minefield of cowpat. They look dry and solid from the outside but if you step on one the surface cracks and you will sink your shoe into some nice juicy cow shit. Kind of like a mud pie. The electrified fences on the other side complete the gauntlet.