1. Getting Ready to Go

I’ve spent a bit of time trying to work out how to blog, and think I’ve got enough of an idea to make a start. I’m using wordpress and there’s plenty of information on how to use it. It feels very experimental, but it will be nice to eventually share our travels with our family and friends, and have a record for ourselves, once I know how to blog properly!

We are still pretty rushed and not-very-relaxed while we finish up our jobs and keep getting everything ready for travelling. That stress-fever is not actually part of the plan, so I can’t wait until we are on our way. We had all our stuff packed into cardboard boxes and the mice got in, so we had to clean all that up and re-pack, something we could have really done without. Although I have one cute image in my mind of a shoe stuffed full of tiny soft bits of paper and looking like a very snug hole to sleep in! Lol. 

I walked the Queen Charlotte Track a couple of winters ago, and as I’ve been hearing a lot about Te Araroa lately I’ve decided to carry on and walk the length of the Marlborough region. I’ve actually already walked most of the Nelson/Tasman region too, so will aim to finish that too, sometime. Te Araroa is a trail that runs the length of New Zealand along roads and through mud, sea, sand, rivers, bush, farms, rain, more mud, sun and mountains. There seems to be a lot of mud, but that’s just fun isn’t it? I’ve been reading some blogs about it, and it sounds as though it goes past quite a few cafes and supermarkets as well. As long as there’s good coffee, that totally makes it for me. Geoff Chapple was the driving force behind the trail, which opened (officially) in 2011. I met him a couple of years ago when the Nelson Rock and Mineral Club got him in for a talk at one of their monthly meetings, so that was a buzz. Anyway, to finish off the Marlborough region I just have to walk from Mistletoe Bay to the Maungatapu road end and that’s it done. 

Kevin is still finishing off at work – I’m already done – but he found time to drop me at the Maungatapu road end so I can walk NOBO (Te Araroa lingo for northbound) to Mistletoe Bay (I didn’t make it this time, but will explain that soon). The route followed the Pelorus River for the whole of the first day’s walk. Early on I caught glimpses of clear, deep pools that you could have fun climbing over and around if you had time, and later it broadened into a wider river, especially when it hit farmland and then the estuary. I also followed the double circuit pylon towers once hitting the point where they come down from Maungatapu Saddle until they crossed the Pelorus River and went back out of sight. These towers carry 110kV of AC power and feed into the national grid. It’s slightly spooky to walk beneath that much power being carried through bare wires and I wondered if one might land on me if there was a sudden big earthquake.

Pelorus River

Friendly sheep
Walking into beautiful green farmlands
Cows at a distance

One of the farms held this artwork; it was really great!
Hello there!
On the Pelorus River circle track

I felt like a hobbit crossing all the farmland except there were no vegetables to thieve. The ground was boggy in places and held the odd creek crossing but other than that it was flat, easy walking. There were stiles, and plenty of sheep and cows, and a friendly set of three horses who were very happy to be patted. I watched cows being herded for milking, was passed by a big articulated truck on the narrow Kaiuma Bay Road, and passed a tractor tossing a mix of silage with it’s front forks – phew!

 A bit further along and the weather closed in and began to rain. There were two flashes of sheet lightening followed by loud rumbles of thunder that sent me scuttling for the cover of a bank. Kevin later reminded me that sheet lightening is cloud to cloud, so I didn’t need to be concerned. Eventually I reached the estuary where I crossed the river twice to reach the main road. Even though I was excited about seeing the Pelorus River flow into Pelorus Sound, I found the last few kilometres into Havelock a bit scary – it was dark due to the rain and low cloud, and I could feel the cars rushing past me on the wet and slippery verge. The only bright thing I was wearing was my red pack, but no cars honked, so I guess they could see me okay.

It was nice to reach the holiday park and a dry cabin. One of the communal showers had a shub and 8 minutes of hot water for every dollar you put in, so I put in 2 dollars and filled the shub enough for a bath to soak muscles unused to walking long distances! I made a dinner of rice and fish in the kitchen and had a nice talk with a German couple, travelling with their toddler. Germany gives good amounts of parental leave so that parents can bond early and well with their children – I said maybe New Zealand could learn from that. And they thought New Zealand roads were better than German ones – more thoughtfully built and cambered. I asked if they were talking about their autobahns, but they were meaning their back roads and lanes.

Late in the evening, just on dark, the cloud had cleared enough to see snow on the hilltops. I knew there was a late spring front passing through but it hadn’t felt cold enough for snow!  

Pelorus River near where it runs into Pelorus Sound
Head waters of Pelorus Sound
Nearing Havelock in the rain

From my cabin door – a dusting of snow!

The next morning I followed the road out of Havelock and into Queen Charlotte Drive. I could see terns and black swans bobbing on the water, looking way more chirpy and active than I was feeling after walking 32kms the day before on legs that hadn’t done much for months. The track led up and over a headland of native bush and fantastic views to the sound Mahakipawa Arm. What a great piece of track! It’s not steep and there are plenty of views and bush. Once in Mahakipawa Arm I followed the trails and road along towards Linkwater.

At the Linkwater garage I found myself wishing I’d taken 3 days instead of 2 for this walk, knowing that my tired legs didn’t want to do anymore today…being busy with work I have had little time for exercise so I’m not ready for long walks yet. But really, how sad is it to have to return to this beautiful place – I thought I wouldn’t like the farm and road walking, but I enjoyed it quite a bit – I’m loving this walk!!! The weather was really hot by now, so I drank a cool ginger beer while waiting to flag down Kevin, driving past to pick me up. 

A clearing morning over Pelorus Sound and Havelock
Havelock from Mahakipawa Arm track
Pelorus Sound
Mahakipawa Arm

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