Friday night, waiting for the Ferry to load, there was a palpable sense of excitement for the upcoming adventure in the Kahurangi National Park. Would we see the reclusive South Island Kokako? Could Mike survive the trip with only six cans of V? And what exactly was going on in the back of the van parked up next to us!?
After a relatively uneventful ferry crossing, we made our way to Motueka, where we had a room reserved at a local backpackers. There was a slight detour to let a couple of the fitness essential trampers out of the van, so they could partake in a more authentic experience camping near a mosquito infested river, before arriving at our destination for the night.
A well judged 8am start time the following morning, followed by a quick stop for real coffee had us dropping off the fitness essentials by 10:30, and at our own road end before 11. The fit group would be heading along the Lockett Range and dropping down into Fenella Hut briefly the following morning, while we took the scenic route up the valley following the Cobb River. The following day we would check out Cobb Lake and Round Lake on a day hike, before walking out Monday morning.
The valley route may have been a comparatively gentle approach, but still had stunning views and a couple of historic huts to visit along the way. This included Chaffey Hut, and Tent Camp. Both huts had been recently restored and in great condition. The tranquil surrounds and inviting fire pit at Tent Camp had us seriously considering staying there for a night, but in the end the decision was made to push on to Fenella Hut.
The hut was built as a memorial to Fenella Druce who was one of 4 people killed when the Three Johns Hut in Mt. Cook National Park was blown off its site. By way of features, it is fully serviced, handy to a fantastic swimming hole, and has stained glass windows in the loo. Talk about flash! We quickly claimed some bunks and the best camping spots (which were somewhat limited) and headed off to explore the swimming hole, which did not disappoint.
Dinner on Saturday was Salmon and Cream Cheese Pasta, which was outstanding and quickly demolished while others in the hut looked on longingly over their reconstituted mashed potatoes. There was then a robust conversation on the pros and cons of the use of 1080, before most headed to bed, and I decided to see if I could capture just how clear and calm the night’s sky was.
Rain arrived overnight, and was shortly followed in the morning by the fit crew and another informal WTMC group who had been camping in the Lockett Range. Mike’s coffee plunger mug got a workout as all three groups took the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and a couple of games of 500. Occasionally the idea of venturing out into the rain was mooted, but generally the consensus was that there was no hurry and that it would soon clear. This finally came true around 1pm, and we all set off on our separate ways, for us, that was a walk past Cobb Lake up to Round Lake.
The day walk was thoroughly enjoyable although we were unable to spot either the fabled South Island Kokako or the population of Rock Wrens that live in the area. Returning to Fenella for another excellent meal, this time a Moroccan tagine, the group retired for an early night and an early start the following morning. With lighter packs and cooler but still very pleasant weather, we bounded down the valley back to the road-end in record time and were back on the road and heading back to the ferry in high spirits.
With time to spare, we managed to fit in a slight detour to drop off a few stray trampers at their rental car, a lunch stop in Motueka where some excellent pies were found at the Patisserie Royale, and we even found time for some to take a quick dip in the Pelorus River! All too soon we were back on the ferry back to Wellington and planning our next adventures!