We are in Nelson, at the top of the South Island, the jumping off point for the Abel Tasman track and just voted NZ Wilderness Magazine’s 2nd best place to live in NZ . It’s unseasonably cool (if such a thing can be said in New Zealand) and from our accommodation we can see snow on the peaks of the mountains. We have spent the morning buying food for our first trip – a hike over the Dun Mountain to Rocks Hut and then down to the Pelorus River before returning to Nelson. The Pelorus is where the barrel scene from the Hobbit was filmed so it should be picturesque.
The afternoon was spent more productively on my two favourite activities – eating and drinking. On the recommendation of our accommodation hosts we had headed to their local, the Sprig and Fern (above), and ordered food from the gourmet takeaway next door which was delivered into the pub. Cajun fish burgers washed down with a nice wheat beer – can’t be beat.
The hikes. We are in New Zealand for the next four months, hiking and fishing, with the odd bit of lazing around thrown in. The first couple of months are fairly planned, but after that we will see what happens. All going well in the next couple of months we hope to tramp, as the Kiwis say, the Dun Mountain/Pelorus, Abel Tasman coastal and inland tracks, parts of the Travers-Sabine track, Queen Charlotte track, Banks Peninsula track, Caples track, Kepler track, Milford track, Rakiura track and Rees Dart track.
Accommodation. We will stay in a mix of DOC huts, B&Bs, and small hotels and motels, whilst endeavouring to stay within a budget. We will sometimes stay in places a bit nicer (and thus more expensive) but hopefully they will be balanced out by our stays in backcountry DOC huts, for which we have bought passes valid for 6 months ($92 each). The huts usually come with a stove for heating, toilets and bunks with mattresses, but no showers.
Getting Around. We have bought Intercity bus passes for travel between towns ($450 each). This will have to be supplemented with local transport providers to get to and from the start and finish of tracks.
Fishing. Yesterday the nice man (as my mother would call him) at Fishing and Hunting sold us some dry nymph flies and some tungsten weighted something or others, which he said would be ideal for fly fishing on the Pelorus. His instructions were to stalk up on the trout and cast into the deeper pools at the edge of rapids. Clearly, as we have only been fly fishing twice before (on which occasions the trout were never in any danger), his instructions vastly over estimated my casting ability. We saw a trout in the river in the middle of town yesterday, but I declined Rob’s invitation to get the rods and have a go. I do not need a crowd of Kiwis laughing at the inept Australian. But, hopefully, with practice, some skills will emerge. So armed with fishing licenses, woolly buggers, tungsten headed nymphs, we intend to carry our rods into the backcountry and hope for the best.
Friends. In the first couple of months we will be joined by friends for different parts of the trip. Wendy and Steve will join us for the Queen Charlotte (the most civilised of our tramps with hotels for accommodation and our luggage being transported each day by water taxi); Pip and Dermot will join us for a week of day walks and fishing in Glenorchy staying in a bach (Kiwi for holiday home); and Kevan and Mary will do it the hard way on the Milford and Rakiura tracks.
Our track outings will be interspersed with time in towns to recover, wash clothes, reprovision and post on our blog. Our longest hike is 8 days, so join us each week for an update on the trip.