I spent four weeks at Outward Bound in Anakiwa is Queen Charlotte Sound in 1972 so yet again 38 years later we made our return to the Marlborough Sounds to trek around the area, this time in a little more comfort and with the knowledge that I could sit back at the end of a long day with a glass of Savignon Blanc rather than mossy tasting water.
We flew to Wellington and caught the ferry across Cook Strait which although no quicker than flying to Blenheim and driving or bussing to Picton, is a boat trip worth making, provided wind is not howling in from the south.
We booked a five day freedom walk on the Queen Charlotte Track which generally includes a rest day at The Portage but we decided to forgo the rest and take a reasonably short 10km hike through to Lochmara for the night, we did not regret doing that. While it is a bit of a hike down (and out again) to Lochmara, the location and facilities are well worth it.
The 71 km of the track was fairly easy going with only one day posing a little more of a challenge for our ageing (and not overly fit) legs. The third day was 22km and over the steepest part of the track. However, the weather was pleasant (completed in early Oct) and the views stunning with vistas of both Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds, the Portage is on the waters edge on the latter sound.
On day one It was a 30 minute boat ride to to our starting point at Ships Cover located in the outer reaches of Queen Charlotte Sound. The day consisted of an undulating walk through to Ferneaux Lodge in Resolution Inlet. The scenery was mainly bush with the local flightless birds (the Weka) keeping us entertained. The accommodation at Ferneaux was excellent.
The next morning we awoke to snow on the hill tops around us which was unexpected given we were into mid spring. The shortish jaunt around to Punga Cove was again through mainly bush or regenerating bush.
With all of the stages you have a backdrop of bush clad hills (mountains to many) with the many coves and inlets of the Sounds in the foreground.
The final day from Lochmara was hrough to our pickup point at the Outward Bound school at Anakiwa. A fitting end to what was a pleasant and thoroughly enjoyable walk, somewhat of a contrast to the many day of ardour that were put in while a pupil of the school. I was sure I could still see the blood, sweat and tears that I left there 38 years before.
On the boat ride back to Picton we were escorted by a pod of dolphins adding a liitle marine splendour to the trip.