After buying a ticket for a music festival in Christchurch, you could either hop on a plane, fly down to the south island, visit the festival, and fly back to Auckland the next day. Or you could make the whole trip more worthwhile by adding some hiking and a fun bus trip to see more of the country than just flying over it. 

As being somewhat adventurous and in love with hiking, I would not just fly to Christchurch to visit the concert. So, the plan was to take a night bus from Auckland down to Wellington, hop on a ferry to the south island, and meet up with a good friend, Jakob, to hike the 71-km-long Queen Charlotte Track in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. After the hike, which would take four days, we decided to make our way to Christchurch, visit the concert, and afterward, I would fly back to Auckland for work. 

Ha, how does the saying go? Life is what happens in between making plans! My booked ferry to the south island was canceled only hours before my bus left Auckland. The only ferry with a vacancy (a 4-hour serious trip across the Cook Strait) was the one going at 2 am. At that time, I would still be sitting on the bus. However, as this ferry was said to be delayed for 9 hours, I booked it. Never was I hoping more that a mode of transportation would be delayed! Long story short: I made it to the south island, but because of being late, we missed our ride to the trail’s terminus. 

The Queen Charlotte Track is the northernmost section of the Te Araroa on the South Island and makes its way along the shores and the ridges of the beautiful area of the Marlborough Sounds. These sheltered waters are home to dolphins and attracted Captain Cook on his various endeavors in the South Pacific. Most hikers take a water taxi that brings people to Ship Cove and walk southbound towards Anakiwa, a small settlement at Okiwa Bay. However, as we missed the last water taxi, we hitch-hiked to Anakiwa and started our hike towards Ship Cove way later that day than we intended. The trail winds along the bay and through beautiful dense coastal forest. The tread is well-beaten and easy to hike on.

After 12 km, we called it a day and pitched our tents at Mistletoe Bay. This first day was the warmest and sunniest we’d experience on the trail. In the upcoming days, a very cold south-westerly blew over, letting temperatures drop to 10 degrees Celsius and bringing some rain. 

But we didn’t let that ruin the trip! The views were always incredible! When on the ridges, you could sometimes even see the North Island in the distance; sometimes, you could spot a ferry on its way in or out to Picton. But most fascinating was the color of the sounds that changed from glittering turquoise to dark greenish color and the endless lush greenery of Aotearoas forests. We occasionally came across baches and private jetties, but also some resorts and hotels in the sounds. For the second night, we decided on Bay of Many Coves campsite. Fortunately, all campsites in the sounds come with a shelter where you can sit and cook. That evening it did a great job of sheltering us from the rain. Schoolhouse Bay, our last campsite on the trail, was a fantastic spot just ducked in the forest behind a lonely beach. I could almost feel how it must have been 250 years ago when the first western sailors were anchoring here. Arriving at Ship Cove on our last day was special: there is always a fair share of melancholy when I finish a trail. But at the same time, I was happy we made it and also made it on time for the water taxi to pick us up. Before the boat arrived, we checked out the area: right at the bay was a massive monument commemorating the landing of Captain Cook. Seeing this concrete block with a plague and a couple of cannons in this peaceful and remote place felt wrong. Especially as Cook very likely wasn’t the first human putting foot on these grounds. 

As not enough plans had failed yet, the water taxi that was supposed to pick us up left without us. The jetty was packed with people embarking, and before we made it on the jetty, the boat turned around and left without us. Oh well, eventually (which equals many hours later), we made it back to Picton, got the last two bunk beds in a hostel, and splurged on a big sandwich. Now, there was only one mission left: we would need to get to Christchurch, a city about 350 km south of Picton. It was almost impossible to make it there for the start of the festival. 

No having waited for too long, Norman took us to Blenheim. He was an elderly guy on his way home. In Blenheim, we were lucky, and John gave us a ride all the way down to Christchurch. He is a Brit who just got New Zealand citizenship and was on his way home now. He made room for two more (a couple who hiked the Te Araroa on the North Island) and said he probably wouldn’t be too talkative. But now, with the car full of people with many stories to share, we were chatting about everything between the sun and the moon while driving along the very pretty east coast of Canterbury. We arrived in Christchurch full of joy and new experiences and thoughts. As I would have to catch a flight earlyish the next day, I decided to skip the festival to relax and enjoy the city for a couple of hours. 

Who would have thought? The festival was the only reason I set out on that trip, and it didn’t matter anymore. 

I was delighted to be out on a trail for some time again, but exceptional this time, I could share it with a friend. Lots of laughter, time for talking, and sharing thoughts and ideas without outside distractions is a gift and one of the main benefits of hiking. 


Exploring the world and myself by two feet.

Kommentar verfassen

%d Bloggern gefällt das: