Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 19: QCT day 4

Day 19: Queen Charlotte Track, Day 4
NZ has 15,134 km of coastline and THB and DB do another 11 kms of it today (round up? sure…), actually we did a bit under 15 kms today, in about 3 hours (we’re getting faster…pure fiction!)

Pics: Many from the QCT and the Lochmara Lodge sculpture are and birds spread around the property

Today DB makes the pressed coffee and we share a muffin saved from our packed lunch of yesterday. Then THB makes himself eggs sort of over hard, probably the first he’s made in over 20 years. They are farm fresh, though not so when THB is done with them. DB sticks with muesli.

Hustle our bags out at 9am and get ready to meet the water taxi at 10am for a portage to the start of our hike (taxi included in our package). How late was the taxi: FORTY FIVE MINUTES! Fortunately, THB had his Kindle at hand so got some reading done, in the shade. The nice thing about the taxi shuttle is that we get to skip the hike up to Eatwell’s lookout. And, today is gorgeous, you can see for mucho kilometers, and Eatwell’s (see pic) is clear as a bell today, no rain or mist around anywhere. Note: after we finish the QCT, we figure we hiked the equivalent of all but 3 hours worth of the 71km because of our day hike of yesterday and the long in and out to Lochmara (our stop for tonight).

The taxi ride is 45 minutes, and around 11:45 we set off from the drop-off point to join up with the QTC. See pic with DB and Jude and Mark (the “Brits,” from London) at the start of the day’s journey on the QTC. And, for the third day in four, the hike proceeds straight uphill for near an hour. Another killer. At some points, THB gets to study the backpack DB is wearing, sometimes DB’s bum, sometimes the backs of her knees, and sometimes her ankles. This puppy is steep! After an hour, we manage to collapse for lunch on the side of the track, at a spot that we find out later is just 10 steps from a great vista (the Brits are there, enjoying the view!). Not a big deal since we have been stopping (can you believe that, we actually took a few rests on the climb…we gotta get in shape for the next trip) and taking in the great views of the bays along the QC Sound.

After lunch, another hour to the turnoff from the QCT to Lochmara Lodge and then another hour to reach the lodge. At several points the route has been washed out by landslides and a temporary path has been created, with unique challenges (see pic).

The lodge is damn big by the standards of our last two spots, they appear to have at least 10 rooms, a café, kayak rentals, etc. We are now very close to Picton, home of the infamous snarly Mercure Picton Hotel, and thus there it is a lot easier for locals and tourists to reach and use.

They also have a lot of art on the premises (see pics). THB takes a dip, we pay for an hour of internet use ($5), DB goes off for a much-needed massage ($85), and then dinner in the café. We both have green lipped mussels in a creamy tomato broth (excellent) and share an entrée of grouper and potatoes (also very good), affogato (vanilla ice cream with sides of kahlua and espresso to pour over), wine and beer, $90.

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