Thursday, 4 March 2010

I made it!

I've just finished walking the Queen Charlotte Track - four days, 71km (plus side tracks, making it about 80km in all), 1,700m ascent and a real sense of achievement: six months ago I could barely walk up a hill; now I'm climbing 1,200ft before breakfast. I'm really proud of myself; exhausted, but proud!

Actually, although people call this the "easy" tramp, because you don't have to carry your cooking utensils, sleeping bag etc, it's about the longest walk in NZ, and is pretty gruelling in parts - particularly day three, which is officially 24km, not counting the climbs to lookouts, and climbs up some very steep hills! But in fairness the nights are more comfortable than other tramps, as you can get your head down on a nice soft bed in one of the hostels and homestays along the way.

Although everywhere was comfortable, my favourite night's stay was with Noeline and Tuppence - the former being a 79-year-old lady who rents out beds in her house to fund her travels during the off season. She's been to 48 countries in the last 15 years, and is considering a trip down the Amazon in a canoe this winter! Tuppence has just as much character - she's a little terrier who has a penchant for men's underpants; she steals them out of the guests' bedrooms and hides them under Noeline's chair. Luckily she didn't get hold of my bra, but she did spirit away my knee support before I knew where I was.

The days were lovely, too - two of them were overcast and showery, but this in fact makes walking more pleasant. Plus, the greens of all the ferns in the undergrowth really come out during the rain, and you get to see the sea in all its different colours in the different weather - from today's sparkling blue to an opaque, almost milky turquoise yesterday, and the slate blue of a Persian cat (and an angry one at that) the day before. Throw in the usual rolling hills, cicadas and bird calls (plus cheeky weka on the path - the size of a small chicken, they think they're the baddest thing in the forest and are totally fearless!), and you have a brilliant four days. And now I'm heading for bed and a well-deserved rest before gearing up for my last days in NZ. There's a lot to see and not enough time to see it in!

And just so as you can see where I went, below is the map of the track...

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