Walking around Endeavour Inlet.
New Zealand isn’t known as the Land of the Long White Cloud for nothing. We woke on Day 2, to a misty, cloudy day, for our walk around Endeavour Inlet to Mahana Lodge, our destination for the night. This was a relatively easy walk of around 15 kms as our chosen accommodation for Day 1, Cnoc na Lear, was situated on the northern side of the inlet.
Cnoc na Lear to Furneaux Lodge
The mist subtly coloured the landscape, giving it an otherworldly dimension as we walked the 2 or 3 kms to Furneaux Lodge which is located in a wonderful setting at the head of the inlet.
The weather also gave us the opportunity to test some of the gear we had purchased for just such an occasion. I have to say that my Kathmandu merino t-shirt and rain jacket passed the test. I was super comfortable and dry all day. I will admit though, it’s not a look you will see on a Paris catwalk.
Furneaux Lodge to Miners Camp
This part of the walk passes through ferny forest and traverses the head of the Inlet.
And across a suspension bridge over a tumbling creek and on through some open grassland to Miner’s camp.
It was in this open grassland that I made my first mistake. As this part of the walk was relatively flat, I hadn’t carried my walking poles, a decision I was to regret. The grass was thick, high and very, very wet. Within minutes, my tights and socks were soaked and my toes were wallowing around in my boots. Not a peaceful, easy feeling! If only I could have parted the grass with my poles, like Moses parting the Red Sea. But Punga Cove was still hours away, so undeterred, we squished and squelched our way on to Miners Camp.
Miners Camp to Punga Cove and Mahana Lodge
We were now on the southern side of the Inlet and this was the most strenuous part of the Day 2 walk. We seemed to be trudging uphill through forest … a lot. There were tree ferns everywhere sprouting forth.
And little coves with private jetties.
It wasn’t only a sea of green. There were flowering shrubs. One which caught my eye was this one. Have no idea what it was but it had a lovely scent.
We were rewarded with lovely vistas over secluded coves, perfect for a lunchtime break as we made our way towards Punga Cove and our destination for the night, Mahana Lodge.
It was mid afternoon by the time we reached Punga Cove. We passed the DOC campsite at Camp Bay and then passed the Punga Cove Resort. We were tired and for a moment, I wished I had booked our second night here. But about another kilometer further on, Mahana Lodge awaited us.
Here, hosts John and Ann Martin made us feel at home. As we were getting acquainted and selecting our dinner menu for the evening, we discovered that John and Ann had lived for a number of years in Kenn’s home town of Condobolin in central NSW. John had worked at the Agricultural Research Station undertaking research into rabbit control in the early 1970s. They remembered the town and its people very fondly. It’s truly a small world.
Our ensuite room in the lodge was spacious and luxurious. After a long, hot shower and wrapped in a super soft complimentary dressing gown, I enjoyed a leisurely afternoon tea. Ann’s wonderful home baking did not last very long I can assure you.
Dinner in the candlelit conservatory at the homestead was very special and memorable. We enjoyed artisan bread baked by Ann and mussels in white wine as our entree. We chose salmon from the sound, smoked by John to his recipe, over wild rice as our main course which was accompanied by the freshest salad. All ingredients had been picked that day by John from his extensive garden. Food when it’s local and super fresh always tastes amazing. We finished with profiteroles smothered in chocolate and a home made raspberry sauce. Not my usual camping fare I can tell you!
We would have liked to spend longer at Mahana Lodge: explore the cove on the free kayaks, complete some shorter walks around the inlet or watch the glow worms flicker in the creek behind the Lodge.
But the Queen Charlotte beckoned. Day 3, according to Ann, would be challenging yet deeply rewarding!
While many like us were on a mission to walk the whole track, we met others who only had the time to explore one section of the track before resuming their travels. The walk around Endeavour Inlet was definitely the easiest part of the Queen Charlotte. Walkers would definitely have time to explore as well as walk. So if the thought of day hikes of 20 plus kms is a little daunting, you can still immerse yourself in the New Zealand wilderness with this part of the walk.