Te Wai Pounamu Revisited
Revisiting Te Wai Pounamu (the Maori name for the South Island of New Zealand) begins at the southern end of the South Island with a hike across the remote Stewart Island. A brief sea kayak tour of Paterson Inlet rounds off this first part.
Back on the “mainland” the journey continues with the Dusky Track in Fiordland National Park. In contrast to the Great Walks of the Milford, Kepler and Routeburn Tracks, the Dusky is spectacularly empty, and tough.
From there the journey proceeds in stages to Nelson on the north end of the island to hike the Heaphy Track (excerpt right), the last of the Great Walks to be walked by the author. In winter a mountain bike tour with gentle slopes, it is reserved for walkers in the summer, and the most spectacular part along the Tasman coast can be undertaken as a day walk. After a short sojourn in Karamea at the end of the world’s longest cul-de-sac, the Wangapeka Track provided a return route to Nelson.
Finally the journey takes us to Picton from where a five-day sea kayak tour of the Queen Charlotte Sound was on the program, complete with dolphins, penguins, and wekas.
To a large extent, this is a New Zealand beyond the usual tourist haunts, although in most cases, not that far beyond that they would be unreachable.
Lee Traynor spent a total of two months in New Zealand on these tracks and recounts his adventures on and off the track. In addition to detailed information about travel and accommodation in New Zealand, he presents practical advice on organising these expeditions without necessarily having to rent a vehicle.