Rakiura blog | August/September 2018

Stewart Island/Rakiura, eh?

Still winter.

Why am I here again?

That’s right. The best winter tramp in New Zealand.

I been down here a few times before at this time of the year, although most recently it was for my Tin Range excursion to see how far south I could go by foot in New Zealand.

That was summer.

This is definitely not.

My intention is to walk another full spin of the North West and Southern Circuits.

I’ve refined my food requirements these days. Lunch was always difficult and heavy. Now I’m going lighter, so overall I’m hoping it isn’t the weight of my 19 day Little Adventure back in 2013.

Five years later, well, we will find out how fit I am, but there has been a few lead-in tramps this time around. The Copland Track, three days, and the South Coast Track, nine days.

All that exercise has helped remove a few superfluous kilos.

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Day -1 | Oban

Fromt Bluff Hill looking over to Rakiura. I'll be walking from left to right along the coast soon enough. | Stewart Island/Rakiura August 2018

While I was noshing out a drunken guy in a bush shirt came over to the piano and knocked out a charming classical piece quite adeptly, then belched loudly and returned to his previous pastime.

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Day 1 | Port William

Fully manicured Great Walk track through rimu forest.  | Rakiura Track/North West Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

For the first time in forever I’m in full tourist mode, but that will change in the next x number of days. What x equals I’m not certain, but it might be somewhere around 18 days by my reckoning.

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Day 2 | Bungaree Hut

The east side of Rakiura has plenty of walking through rimu forest.  |  North West Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

I was in no particular hurry, after all it’s only three or four hours around the coast to Bungaree, and the weather was surprisingly good.

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Day 3 Christmas Village Hut

Deer tracks down on Murray Beach. On the way to Christmas Village Hut. | North West Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

My friend in the other room has a major alarm clock. Some marching music, the time shouted out, then more loud marching. That’s second time around, and still no movement so I’m not sure it’s effective.

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Day 4 | Yankee River Hut

Ain't that a forest track to have to yourself for the next 10 days.  |  North West Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

I chose to be here, at this time. Trained for it my whole life. Might as well appreciate these circumstances.

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Day 5 | Long Harry Hut

Smokey Beach was smokin'. And this was almost mid-winter.  |  North west Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

The passage of time doesn’t mean much here.

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Day 6 | Long Harry Hut

Those kiwis don't slow down. This one was out and about at Long Harry Hut.  |  North west Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

Long Harry is an obvious place for a day off from walking the North West Circuit because it is a comfortable, light-filled hut, roughly at the halfway point. Oh, and there is a good probability of seeing the kiwi or two, just by keeping an occasional eye out the window.

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Day 7 | East Ruggedy Hut

The Rugged Islands and East Ruggedy Beach is one of my favourite ever views.   |  North West Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

You are a long way from not much.

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Day 8 | Hellfire Pass Hut

That Southern Ocean is pumping. And you need to get around that rocky bluff. West Ruggedy Beach  |  North West Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

This is why tramping builds character. Having to put cold damp clothes on, in a cold damp hut.

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Day 9 | Mason Bay Hut

Shortly after leaving Hellfire Hut you can see all the way to where you will be the next day.  |  North west Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

Long tramps allow for recalibration. Where mind and body are re-appreciated, and cared for. A good dose of austerity and meagre rations, with a little hardship thrown in reconnects me to what really matters.

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Day 10 | Doughboy Hut

This image from Adams Hill over Mason Bay Beach has been shot plenty of times.  |  Southern Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

Here I am in Paradise, and I have it all to myself.

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Day 11 | Doughboy Hut once again

Critically endangered NZ southern dotterels on Doughboy Beach. |  Southern Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura
Beach. Sun. Mussels. Just a perfect, memorable day.
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Day 12 | Rakeahua Hut

Leaving one of my favourite places. Doughboy Beach. |  Southern Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

“Mind the Gap”, I thought in retrospect as I disappeared up to my knee in the putrid muck. Not the first to take the plunge that point.

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Day 13 | Freds Camp Hut

Dinnertime at Freds Camp. The blue mussel entree is near the front door at low tide. |  Southern Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

Thought I was smelling like a wet dog, but now realised it was more like a dead dog.

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Day 14 | North Arm Hut

Sunrise at Freds Camp. Sweet. |  Southern Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

That sort of Little Adventure was why I came to the island.

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Day 15 | South Sea Hotel again

The last day was walking out to civilisation on the easy track.  |  Rakiura/North west Circuit, Stewart Island/Rakiura

Yeah, Stewart Island/Rakiura is a great winter tramp. Particularly if you want extensive physical exercise, limited socialising, and the feeling of being completely cut off from the remainder of the world.