The first of the room mates were away at 0700 which wasn't too bad. At 0730 I got up and walked 20 meters to a fantastic bakery where I had a Chicken and Camenbert Pie, donut and pinwheel with an orange juice and a coffee. I was full after that. Back at the backpackers I handed my key in and asked if they could post my parcel as the Post Office would still be closed when I left. They were happy to do this which was a relief. I was impressed with the Villa Backpacker and will stay there again if I am in Picton again.
I walked to the Beachcomer Cruises office to check in and pick up my track pass. Beachcomber offer a discount to Te Araroa trampers. They replied to my email enquiring about this really quickly and the staff were really helpfull.
I had 20 minutes to fill so I had another coffee.
At 0900 the boat departed. This sailing was on the bigger catamaran. The 0800 sailing is on a smaller boat. I was happy to be on the bigger boat as I could sit inside for the journey out of the wind but when I wanted to take photos I could go onto the open top deck. The captain was friendly and gave interesting information as we went. We were lucky and saw some little Hector Dolphins.
There were two stops on the way to Ships Cove. Once we arrived I looked at the information panels and had my photo taken in front of the memorial. Ships Cove is where Captain Cook, who discovered NZ, first landed and spent the most time at in NZ on his subsequent visits. He established a peaceful relationship with the Maori who lived there.
At 1110 I was on the trail and what a beautiful trail it was. Apart from the first 5 minutes which were uphill almost steeply the rest of the track was an easy gradient. Most of the time I only realised I had been climbing was when I started going downhill. It was also a great day for my ego as I flew past everyone.
It was hardly fair having a fit TA tramper on the same track as people who probably haven't walked more than 10 km in years if ever. Imagine a couple who had massive packs with things hanging off every attachent struggling up a slight incline as I prance past with my conditioned legs and relatively light pack. The mournful look on the couples faces as they admire the bulging calf muscles and what to them must look like a tiny pack makes me glad that I refrained from skipping past as that may well have been the last straw for them and would just have been mean.
Seriously I was feeling fresh after my two days off and had to keep telling myself to slow down. It was mainly people with day packs on the trail with a few with full backpacks.
The track was in beautiful condition and I was moving at a good pace. I saw two people coming towards me who had a TA look about them so I made a comment to them and they were. They were SOBO but doing just Queen Charlotte Track northwards.
In this area or is a mast year which means the native trees, and especially beech trees, flower more than normal which creates more fruit which the rodents love so their numbers explode. That is why the traping and poison was so intense on the track.
I stopped for lunch at some picnic tables overlooking the water with about 10 other people. There were 2 Weka there which was good entertainment to see what they would try to steal. After 40 minutes I continued on.
Not long after I saw Dan Slattery coming towards me and he asked if Bluff was in the direction he was going. He was also doing Queen Charlotte Track northwards but would switch back once finished.
I was stopping a lot to take photos and in one spot did a video just to capture the noise of the birds. This meant one lady who was walking a good pace kept passing me then I would pass her again.
Ok maybe there was a little caffeine in my sytem when I composed this while walking along. It was my third coffee of the day when I am not used to caffine anymore. In more sedate terms - the chips were nice.
I then continued on and encountered several trampers over the next 30 minutes then no one for the next 2 hours. I have been surprised all day at how few people are on the trail given it is peak season.
I arrived at Camp Bay 1720 and met the Camp Host. After paying the $6 fee I found a nice spot and set up my tent. I was a little disappointed there was no sea views but at least there was nice bush.
When I was filling up my water I met Thor (Germany) who is also doing TA. After a quick chat I went exploring to look at the beach and nearby lodge. $30 for fish and chips was a little steep so I was happy to head back to the campground. Thor's other half, Katherine, was there now so we chatted. We brought our cooking gear down to the table and ate dinner together. At the late hour of 2030 we retired to our tents.