Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 16: Queen Charlotte Track, Day 1

Day 16: Queen Charlotte Track, Day 1
NZ has 15,134 km of coastline and THB and DB do 15 kms of it today (round up? sure…) we did a bit under 20 kms today
Pics: Another local bakery, Queen Charlottes Track, No Road Inn
Pop Pictorial Quiz: Name the bird and identify the device on the dinner table
We wander down to Bakerii, and they have something THB has not seen before (so of course we order it): an oversize rugby ball shaped doughnut (no hole) with raisins inside and powdered sugar on outside – excellent! And a fruit turnover and a rye roll, both pretty good, two flat whites, $12.

Checkout of our dump of a hotel, and when the person at the desk asks if everything was all right and THB says no, she doesn’t respond nor show any interest. Guess that snarly consistency is the hallmark of this place…and we later run into a guy on the tramp who also stayed there and his experience was even worse because he tried eating at the restaurant. Couldn’t get served dessert, no matter how hard he tried. Of course, he had ordered cheese, so maybe they were starting from milking the cow. Or not…

We get picked up by Wilderness travel right on time, shuttled to the water taxi, given lunches, an extra backpack, and vouchers and an overview of each day and the stretch of the QCT we had to cover, and then on to the taxi, 55 minutes later we were at the trailhead. We’re taking swimsuits and jackets along, plus our own leftover picnic items, so the extra pack comes in handy. This means that a) we are expecting warm weather and accessible beaches, b) rain, and c) the provided lunches might not be substantial enough to hold your intrepid day hikers on their way down the QTC. Most people we pass or see either have no packs or small packs on their backs. Conclusion: we continue to over pack, regardless of what we are doing.

This trailhead is not hard to find, it is at the end of pier we docked at. As a warm up, we proceed uphill (steep at many spots) for 50 minutes. So refreshing! OK, not so refreshing, pretty damn challenging. At least there is no humidity and temps in the high 60s. There are a number of pics from the tramp, and they don’t do the hike justice. The views are spectacular. And, for the most part, the track is shady. Jackets?

Five hours after we start, we’re at our lodge for the night, No Road Inn. And, the inn is awesome: right on the water, modern, large rooms (see pics of our bedroom), major common area, and large deck. And, dinner is communal, all the guests eat with the lodge owners, Barb and Gary.

Cold brewski and in 10 minutes we’re swimming right out back, water is cool to brisk, just right after you move your arms for a while. Among THB’s best dips ever…$3 for boy dips?

Dinner on the deck, two Aussie couples traveling together, one couple from London, Barb and Gary. Everyone else is in their late 40s (maybe Barb and Gary are in their 50s) and all but the Brits have grown children (the Aussies must have started early). The Aussies are in the midst of a 3 day kayak and 2 day mountain bike trip. They have been all over the SI doing most every tourist thing, and at length. The Brits have traveled so much the guy has been to NZ seven times and SF six times, and they used to travel by buying the around-the-world air fares.

Five course dinner: whitebait sandwiches (our first whitebait: small fish cooked with egg into a patty, service on buttered white bread), scallops (lots of scallops), battered trumpetfish, lamb with potatoes, chickpea greek salad, lettuce salad, whole mini-beets with youghurt, pudding (much discussion at table about what is pudding, prompted by THB…end result: disagreement among the others) with ice cream, whipped cream, and maybe stewed rhubarb, a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (very nice). All terrific, all served up by Barb and Gary effortlessly. Almost two and half hours, lovely conversation, explanations, low-key storytelling, brilliant.

Cost of meal: not sure, won’t know until we check out. The package is $1200 for lodging, water taxis, lunches, breakfasts, and some dinners (not this one).

And, the coup de grace: with torches, we saunter back all of 10 meters along the QTC, 1 minute, and DB sees glow worms and the Milky Way. THB is the proud leader of this trek, somehow THB could not see or find his way to put DB in one-size to small overalls.

1 comment:

  1. "Late 40s"... Jude hasn't stopped sobbing since she read this!

    It was good to have some decent conversation on the track and at dinner, though, so good to meet you both.