Fri 31 March – Mon 10 April
- Km today: 94
- Total Km: 1300
Abel Tasman Track, Nelson, Picton and Queen Charlotte Track
Pancakes on the top deck are always a welcome start to any day I’d say. Thank you Aquapackers for a delicious breakfast. Despite the snoring (French Canadian, not mine) that kept me up half the night it was a comfortable sleep. The guests were all tendered ashore around 0800 and departed in various directions. I walked out to Pitt Head point first and circled around to Te Pukatea Bay before rejoining the trail proper through to the finish at Marahau. There was time to kill at the local cafe on completion before my bus into Nelson. Whilst in Nelson I caught up with my flat mate Chrissy, from London days and was fortunate to visit the farmers market which is full of quality local food and crafts. My St John fund-raising manager happened to be in Nelson for the weekend so it was great to spend time with her and be given a lift to Picton. Cyclone Debbie was approaching so I was fortunate to have accommodation at The Villa in Picton.
A visit to the Picton St John station was on the cards for this morning. The lovely Donna showed me around their station plus we went to see New Zealand’s only marine ambulance – what a great piece of kit for the Marlborough Sounds. The coastline of the sounds is a similar distance to the length of the eastern seaboard of USA so it makes sense to have a water based ambulance. During my time waiting for the cyclone to pass, I volunteered at the Blenheim St John charity shop. This place is a give of activity, incredible well supported by the community and making much needed funds for St John. It was a pleasure to assist the volunteers who work there everyday. I also took the opportunity to see the recently opened WW2 exhibition at the fabulous Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum – this is a must do for anyone visiting Blenheim.
The cyclone passed through and settled weather is in its wake. I’m off to walk another of New Zealand’s favourite walks, the Queen Charlotte track. It’s approximately 70km from Ship Cove to Anakiwa and this puts me back onto the Te Araroa trail to finish the South Island. I had wanted to walk north from Anakiwa to Ship Cove as would be logical however the logistics of the walk are suited to the opposite direction so I travel on the early morning Cougarline express service on the aptly named ‘Sounds Exciting’ to Ship Cove. I have three days of walking with overnight stays at Punga Cove and the Portage before arriving at Anakiwa for the transfer back to Picton.
One more night in the south island shared with Mark, Maria and family then it was down to the bluebridge ferry for the crossing of the Cook Strait. No I didn’t walk this bit… But we did see orca on the way across to Wellington.