The Queen Charlotte track was the first of our big hikes - and the most cushy by far. While in a few days we will be heading out for days into the wilderness, at the end of each day on the Queen Charlotte (QC for short - don't feel like typing the whole thing!) we were able to stay at a nice lodge. Pretty nice to have a nice hot meal, a shower, and a good beer after a day of hiking.
The QC is at the north eastern tip of the South Island in NZ. The hike hugs the edge of a beautiful sound by the same name - think 3-4000 foot mountains rising straight up from a sparkling turquoise sea. We decided to just do the first portion of the hike, about 18 miles over two days. One of the cool things about the hike is that you can access the start of it by boat only, the same being true of the first place we stayed.
The hike started off a bit rough - rainy, windy, and cold - but on the positive side we got to test out all of our brand spanking new rain gear (we will later be hiking in some of the wettest areas in the world). Anyhow, after an hour or two of slogging through the rain, it cleared up and we were treated to some spectacular scenery. The hike passed the sites where Captain Cook first discovered NZ so on top of the scenery there was that sense of history that we both like as well.
All good stuff though by the end of the 10 miles or so on that first day (after a drive and then a boat ride earlier in the day) we were exhausted. The first place we stayed, Furneaux Lodge, was beautiful- see below for the view near sunset. The best part of our stay was the extremely fresh fish (for our fish and chips dinner) and the cold beer. heaven.
The second day was more of the same - beautiful views and a good hike. However, while on the first day we were essentially alone on the hike (seeing two people for a brief moment going in the opposite direction only) on the second day we seemed to be traveling in a pack. Not as nice. But we ended up at a great little place for the night called Mahana Homestead. Below is the view from our room. The hostel owners lived on site, hosting just a few rooms (all very nice) and a huge organic garden. The guy went out and fished every evening for everyone's dinner. They prepared us a gourmet dinner that might have been the best we had the entire trip - and yes after hiking for 20 miles with a big pack on you are a bit food focused.