From Akaroa with Love

PicMonkey Collage

After we completed the Queen Charlotte Walk in early December, Kenn and I visited Akaroa near Christchurch, before catching our flight home. Friends had said it was a ‘must see’ and they were so right. Cruising along in our little Yaris hire car,  our first surprise unfolded as we drove down, and I mean down and down some more. Akaroa is situated on the edge of a  beautiful harbour, a harbour which was once the centre of a volcano. We  realised we were driving down the sides of a caldera and the views were magnificent.

the caldera
This road will bring out your inner rally driver.

Akaroa is charming. Originally settled by the French,  it is so ooh la la! The french influences are everywhere: from  names, french blue lamp posts and public seating, to the tricolour flying in the breeze. A word or two of my schoolgirl french returned to assist in translation.

PicMonkey Collage2
Lots of lovely weatherboard heritage style buildings  and delightful cafes

There are flowers everywhere. From beautiful cottage gardens surrounding delightful BnB’s

bed and breakfast
Beautiful roses

to fences and shop fronts garlanded with hanging baskets.

hanging baskests
They obviously remember to water their hanging baskets

We took  leisurely walks along the foreshore to the little lighthouse  and various points of interest sampling the coffee and friands in one establishment and the coffee and croissants in another. We indulged ourselves over breakfast, lunch and dinner. A highlight for me besides the Sunday morning chocolate crepes served by our motel, was the fish. It was superb. There must be something in the water in New Zealand that we don’t have because fish always seems to taste better there than here. I noticed  a Cooking School but alas no classes were running while we were there. I would have loved to take a unique recipe home and know how it should taste and be cooked.

cooking school
Lots of french with a kiwi twist inspired recipes

All however was not lost. I found something lovely to take home while souvenir shopping. I was on a bit of a mission. Before departure, Melissa and Ben had shared the happy news that they were expecting a honeymoon baby.  Our second grand child was on the way! What special something could I buy the baby?  It was while I was buying a cute woolly sheep for the nursery that I spied some special baby wool. It was relatively expensive at nearly $14.00 NZ but felt so soft. It was DMC’s 100% Baby, extra fine pure merino wool. Made in Italy, it looks like a 3 ply yarn but knits as a 4 ply.  I have never seen it in Australia, so bought two balls of white. Enough to knit a little something. Then Kenn spotted some great buttons and my purchases were complete.

But as every knitter knows, it is one thing to buy wool, another to knit it up. What would I knit with this special wool? A jumper? Maybe booties? Perhaps a little hat? The hat I had knitted Genevieve had been a hit.

genevieve 2
Genevieve Grace has arrived!

In the end, I decided to knit a cardigan in the newborn to three month size.  Luckily vintage is in, for I decided to use a pattern from the ’70s that my mother-in-law, Betty had given me.  It comes from Patons Pattern book 792, 10 Baby Knits  which, to my amazement is still available on ebay. It was easy to knit and the buttons give it a unisex, contemporary finishing touch, don’t you think? By the way, the cardigan took just one ball of wool!  I think a hat and maybe some booties will be making an appearance.

front of cardigan
Heritage pattern with a twist
back of cardigan
It always feels so good when it’s finished!

So what have I been doing since I finished this project? I’ve started a baby blanket which hopefully will be finished by June. It’s definitely not heritage in any way. An interesting project, it’s something to do after I’ve been for my swim  and beach walk or perhaps shared a coffee with friends.  It’s a wonderful world out there.

beach wallow
The water is so clear and warm at the moment. Perfect for wallowing








Queen Charlotte Track: Day 4

Mistletoe Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound


Like most who tackle the Queen Charlotte Track, we walked the actual track in four days. But as this was our first long distance, multi-day hike, we added a rest day at Portage Bay.

This was mainly my idea. I know my limitations. While I’m up for a challenge, I didn’t want the walk to become a punishment. I knew from past experience, that walking for eight hours up hill and down dale would leave me a trifle knackered.  A good dinner and a Pinot Grigio might not be sufficient to restore my spirits.  My feet might need rest and some tender loving care if I wanted them to happily walk a further 20 kms to Anakiwa to finish.

So we rested at the Portage Hotel. As we soaked in the hot tub, massaging our aches and pains away, we congratulated ourselves on our decision. Following a gentle stroll in the rain, the weather closed in and we were content to curl up on a comfy sofa before the open fire, meet fellow travelers and hope that the weather  would clear overnight.


After all the rain, the clouds disperse
After all the rain, the clouds disperse

After three days of overcast weather, imagine how thrilled we were when we were greeted by sunny skies. The Portage Hotel supplies a courtesy bus that takes walkers up the hill to rejoin the track.  There we tackled the hill that would lead the way across the Torea Saddle to Mistletoe Bay.

ever upwards

This is quite a hill but the views from the top were amazing.

The bays just seem to go on forever.

This section was challenging enough. I was huffing and puffing my way downhill towards Mistletoe Bay when a party of Primary School students passed us going uphill. Some were darting up ahead while others were almost skipping up the hill, singing as they went. Such stamina! No wonder, New Zealand produced  Sir Edmund Hilary.


After Mistletoe Bay, the track takes a downhill turn and it’s easy walking to Anakiwa.

I’m not complaining, love a steady downhill.

There are still wonderful vistas over the sound but the vegetation is changing. There are more flowering plants.

This reminded me of a wild fushia only bigger
I think that this Manuka

But even on this section, the water is beside you, shimmering shades of aquarmarine.

I’m a happy wanderer

Then, all of a sudden it seemed, we were at sea level, walking through beech forests past little coves with sandy beaches.

We’re nearly down
Would love to return to explore these beaches

Before too long we reached our destination, Anakiwa. We were sore…and tired…but oh so happy. We enjoyed an ice cream while we waited for our Cougar Line water taxi to pick us up. As we skimmed over the water on our way back to Picton, everyone was quiet, reflective, treasuring their memories of the panoramas of the Queen Charlotte Track.

We will be back












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.



Queen Charlotte Track, Day 2

Even in the misty rain, it’s beautiful.

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.

View from Cnoc na Lear across the Inlet to Furneaux Lodge jetty

 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.

Dressed for the rain in my Kathmandu gear at Furneaux Lodge

Furneaux Lodge to Miners Camp

This part of the walk passes through ferny forest and traverses the head of the Inlet.

If you have time to spare, there’s also a waterfall or two to visit near Furneaux Lodge

And across a suspension bridge over a tumbling creek and on through some open grassland to Miner’s camp.

Feels like a real adventure when you cross a suspension bridge or two!

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 leave the grassland and climb up and down along the southern arm of Endeavour Inlet.

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.

Reminds me of an Australian tea tree

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.

Adrift on a sea of aquamarine

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.

The  sitting room in the Lodge. That sofa was very comfortable, a great place for a cuppa and a good book.
Storm clouds gather over the homestead, as seen from the sitting room in the Lodge

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!

Sunset over the cove

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.

The Queen Charlotte Track: Part 1

Queen Charlotte from the lookout
The Queen Charlotte Sound as viewed from the Ship’s Cove lookout

Finishing the Queen Charlotte, one of New Zealand’s great walks, was an amazing feeling!  I was elated that I had actually walked all 70 kms without needing to be air lifted out or having to abandon the walk and take a water taxi back to civilisation. It was challenging and exhilarating but oh so rewarding.


Picton Harbour
Picton Harbour

The walk is located on the top of the South Island, just north of Picton.  I had been keen to attempt it ever since  I discovered that I didn’t have to forgo too many creature comforts. You see, the Queen Charlotte track is accessed by water taxi. For  around $100 pp, they take you to the starting point of the track, pick you up at the end and deliver your luggage to your accommodation along the track each day. They will even pick you up along the way if you find yourself unable to continue!  This means that you only have to carry a day pack, you get to sleep in a comfortable bed at night and someone else prepares dinner, lunch and breakfast for you. This walk had my name all over it.

The adventure begins

Whatever way you choose to walk the track: guided, self guided or as independent walkers like Kenn and I, you need to stay somewhere before and after the walk.  We chose the historic Echo Lodge BnB  overlooking the harbour in Picton.  Wonderful hosts, Sharon and Russell really looked after us, recommending restaurants and even storing excess luggage for us. After devouring a wonderful breakfast, Russell delivered us to the marina where our Cougar Line water taxi awaited us.

Ship Cove

Soon, we were skimming over the smoothest, incredibly aqua water and before long we were at Ship Cove, ready to begin.

jetty at ships cove
How clear is this water?

As we walked along the jetty, we decided to detour a little and look at the monument to Captain Cook. 

captain cook monument
Captain Cook visited here several times on his voyages … but he refused to do the walk!

But we couldn’t procrastinate for ever. The first climb awaited. This was quite steep and quite long but the views as we trudged and trudged some more were worth it.

view of ships cove after the big first climb
View of the jetty from on high

After about two hours of slogging it up a mountain (I would call it a mountain even if the Kiwis would call it a hill), we reached the lookout and decided to stop, enjoy some morning tea and the views. From here you can see both the Queen Charlotte  and Kenepuru Sounds. So beautiful!

Keperu sound
Kenepuru Sound – Is that a jetty way down there?

The track then winds down into Resolution Bay and  on through ferny forests to Endeavour Inlet.

path from resolution bay
The path was much wider than I expected

Kenn and I were into a rhythm, just walking and enjoying the silence. (Well, I was just walking but he was enjoying the silence!)  We heard a few bird calls but not much else.

chicks sharing our lunch
A Weka chick and it’s mother joined us for lunch.

Not that I’m complaining. I loved that I couldn’t hear any slithery sounds!

Kenn striding out
And Kenn was always willing to wait for me!

Four and half hours later, we reached our destination for the night, Cnoc na Lear, about two kilometers from  the head of the Endeavour Inlet.  

bridge leading to Endeavour Inlet
A mossy bridge guards the entrance to Endeavour Inlet

Our room was very comfortable and private and our luggage was waiting. It’s light until around 9.00pm in December in New Zealand so we had plenty of time to explore the foreshore.

anyone for mussels
Anyone for mussels?

Then it was indulgence time. Noeline, our hostess, provided a foot spa for us! Needless to say, after a brief squabble, which I won, we both made use of it. Soon a delicious dinner was delivered to our room as we watched the sun set over the water. 


clear waters of Endeavour Inlet
Not exactly Byron Beach, but still …

While our stay at Croc Na Lear was lovely, we noticed that it was up for sale at the time so may or may not be available today.  In hindsight, we would have made our second day of walking or as the Kiwis say it, ‘tramping’ very easy if we had booked to stay at Endeavour Lodge which has a prime position at the head of the inlet. Prices were very similar as I recall. 

Maybe this walk when the Trans-Tasman bubble becomes a reality, is something you would like to do. And I hope you will join me as I re- discover the joys of Endeavour Inlet on Day 2 of the Queen Charlotte Walk.