The Queen Charlotte Track: Day 3

Kenepuru  Sound

Day 3

From Mahana Lodge to Bay of Many Coves Campsite

Day 3 was indeed challenging. All along, I had been worried about this section of the track. Not only was it approximately an eight hour, 24.5 km walk from  Mahana Lodge to Portage Bay,  examination of the elevation map had shown me that I would be walking uphill … a lot. To complicate matters, the weather was even mistier and more overcast than on Day 2.

However, we refused to be daunted. Our gear had dried overnight and it was with a sense of adventure that we set out. The first hurdle, walking a kilometer or so up a steep driveway and road to rejoin the track, was negotiated rather easily.  Then I realised  I had left my phone/camera in the Lodge. I felt a little like Eeyore as I walked back down, retrieved the phone and walked a little more slowly up the road again. Just a couple of extra kms that I didn’t need to walk!  Not that anyone was counting.  My feet were not amused.

But the track soon lifted our spirits. Climbing the Kenepuru Saddle, we circled around a valley lost in time.

looking down into the valley
How green is my valley? Even in the rain!

Then the detour to Eatwell’s Lookout appeared. But the clouds were darkening and the mist seemed thicker so we decided that the lookout would have to wait for another trip.

the clouds get thicker
Stormy skies

But as this photo from shows, on a fine day, it would have definitely been worth walking the extra few kilometers. You can look out over the sounds,  all the way to the North Island!

eatwell's lookout
Eatwell’s Lookout. Oh for a sunny day!

After Eatwell’s Lookout, the track climbs and climbs.  I thought that it would never end. Kenn remarked that it was like completing the climb to the Byron Lighthouse, 20 times. No wonder my thighs were on fire! Well as they say, no pain, no gain!

But all good things come to an end and eventually the  covered rest shelter  at  Bay of Many Coves, that Ann Martin had suggested as our lunch stop, came into view.

lunchtime and what a view

Bay of Many Coves. View from the lunch shelter.

There, surrounded by the happy chatter of junior high boys on a school field trip, Kenn and I enjoyed our magnificent lunch. It gladdened our hearts to see so many young people on the track having such a wonderful time and not an iPhone or earplug in sight.

Bay of Many Coves Campsite to Portage Bay

Leaving Bay of Many Coves, the track meanders through the forest. The uphills seem a little easier and there is definitely a lot more downhill. Yippee!

through tunnels of vegetation
Tunnels of vegetation

Every now and then, we would come to a vantage point that overlooked the sounds. Even under grey skies, it was breathtaking.

the water is still beautiful under grey skies
The water is still beautiful under grey skies

But as the afternoon wore on, the skies lightened a little and the sun tried to sneak through.

The light is trying to break through
The light is trying to break through.

A couple of climbs later, we reached Black Rock campsite. We stopped for afternoon tea and breathed a sigh of relief. Only 7kms to go.  And mainly downhill too. As we gently spiraled down into Portage Bay, it was tree fern heaven and at last we were there and the tranquil waters of the bay lay ahead.

the Portage jetty
The jetty at Portage Bay

I won’t lie. We were knackered. We had been dreaming of a hot shower, soft shoes, a stiff drink (well I had been) and something tasty for dinner for many hours. All this and more was waiting for us, at our home for the night, the Portage Resort Hotel.

I thought back over the day. Would I do it again?  Definitely!  Ann Martin was spot on. Today had been very challenging, but oh so rewarding.



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