Friday, February 12, 2016

Nelson Lakes National Park - Day 1

23 Jan 2016

It took me more than a year and half to pack my sack for an multi-day hike in New Zealand. The Christmas holiday to Nelson dint come along, so, when I came across the meetup for a 3 day hike in Nelson, I decided to join. I quickly got the ferry tickets and hut tickets sorted. The long weekend for Wellington Anniversary, gave enough time for a short break.

A cruise ship at wellington harbour

It was a longtime wish to travel by Inter-islander Cook Strait ferry between Wellington and Picton. Fortunately, it was a good day with lot of sunshine and some clear sky. Of the ten, eight of us, from the meetup group, checked in at the Wellington ferry station and boarded the ferry at 930. Due to some technical issues, the ferry started late but the views from the top deck kept us busy.

Picture of the Wellington to Picton journey

Shortly, the ferry siren signaled and we set off towards South Island. In between the two islands is Cook Strait, which is narrow and within a short while, South Island comes into view. Though the wobbling hardly reached the top deck, it made me slightly drowsy. I found myself a comfy place on one of the lower decks and took a quick nap.

Crossing another Inter-islander ferry

After a while, the thoughts of view outside, woke me up and I peeked out of the windows to see the ferry cutting through the islets. The tory channel is covered with great views of Islets on both the sides. I found myself back on the top deck, clicking pictures. The wind was so strong at few stretches that, I could not stand even for few seconds.

View of the surrounding islets from the ferry

It was noon by the time we reached Picton. We stopped by a bakery to enjoy a lunch before heading into mountains. The drive from Picton to Nelson (Mt Robert carpark) was about 90 mins. The views after leaving the city was mostly open grasslands and mountains, sheep and cattle grazing on them.
We unloaded from the car, packed shared food items into left over space in our backpacks and started the day’s walk. It was 430 pm already and with the luxury of having long daylights, we had ample time to take it easy for the day. The climb was only 5 km long, sort of steepish and with the load on your back and sun glazing brightly in the sky, I struggled.

View of St Arnaud town and Lake Rotoiti

In the very first few minutes of walking, I realized it was a bad bad idea to do this walk without being fit enough. I cursed, but without having choice, kept moving. It seemed like a long long walk for the day. Finally, we arrived at the hut around 620pm. As always, the best sight after a long walk is that of your destination, I made it for the day.

Bushline Hut

Hoping for a better tomorrow, I just threw my backpack and settled for some light stretches. The group, without wasting much time, started preparing the dinner. The meat with beans and tomatoes looked yum while I settled for my vegetarian meal. A cup of hot soup, followed by couscous for night’s dinner gave some energy. We enjoyed sharing stories sitting around for dinner. It was a very diverse group, from NZ, Srilanka, US, Lebanon, Ireland, China and India. It’s always great to hear stories from fellow travelers. A German kid, Christian, travelling in NZ for 6 months joined us for dinner, sharing his experiences with us.

View on Tory Channel from the ferry

With the full moon the next day, the sky was lit brightly along with clouds moving around. The view of the lake looked fabulous. I and Christian, sat watching the sky while the rest of the group enjoyed playing Dumb Charades. We enjoyed a good laugh when one of them had to enact the word “Condom”. Well, it was dirty but funny.

View on Tory Channel from the ferry

Cheers for the day 1, we got into our sleeping bags. I chose to sleep on the table to avoid snoring effect on the bunk beds. Also, to catch a good glimpse of sunrise next morning. But the clouds suggested not to expect a great view of the sun rising but I was still hopeful and slept peacefully for the night.

Happy Me...