I (Claire) have a group of walking friends and we do a "big" walk each year, plus some smaller training walks during the year (it's really just an excuse to get together for a girls only time away from husbands and children!) Much of the fun is in the planning - where will we go next time? How will we get there? What will we do afterwards? We always have a fabulous time.
Here are some of the walks we have really enjoyed.
The Milford Track - Probably our one and only independent great walk - those packs got pretty heavy by the end of the day... The rewards were the spectacular scenery and the immense sense of satisfaction at Sandfly Point!
Mimiwhangata - This was a regular holiday spot for years and also an area with lots of different day walks, ideal for training (and yakking).
Tora Coastal Walk - Our first private unguided walk, and also the inspiration for this business. Not carrying packs and having delicious food waiting at the end of each day seemed like heaven - plus gorgeous scenery and good company of course. By the third night my friends had convinced me I really could do this too and we bombarded our hostess, Jenny Bargh, with questions about how Tora had started. Shortly after this she found her husband Chris had fallen out of a tree while pruning. We were variously involved in keeping him warm and comfortable, shifting pigs, opening gates, directing the ambulance and gawking at the helicopter. Thankfully he made a full recovery.
Hurunui High Country Track - Dan and Mandy Shand have done something really special in each of their overnight huts (I won't spoil their secrets) and other lovely treats along the way made this another fabulous private walk. We thought we'd be clever and do this three day walk in two days - so we could go to the spa in Hamner - but too much walky-talky at the start of the second day meant we missed a turning. (This does not mean it wasn't well sign-posted, it was hard to believe we'd missed it when we eventually got back to it!) What it did mean though, was a very long walk. Luckily some deer hunters took pity on us as it was getting dark and gave us a lift back to base, thank goodness! And we definitely needed the spa the next day!
Queen Charlotte Track - We walked this in September 2010, after going to the Wearable Arts in Wellington. After WOW, which was just as spectacular second time around, we caught the ferry to Picton and a water taxi to Resolution Bay. This was my first real look at the sounds and they really are beautiful. I fancy the idea of one of those baches that only has boat access, I think I could stay for quite a while with good friends, plenty of food and a stack of great books! It was mid afternoon when we started on the track to Furneaux and early evening when we arrived. The only other people we saw on the track were a family from Whangarei - small world! The track was easy with fantastic views around every corner and weka keen to see what we had in our bags everytime we stopped. A delicious platter awaited us at Furneaux Lodge and after our three course dinner with wine we slept like babies. The Lodge is old and has an interesting history, but for me I couldn't get thoughts of Ben and Olivia out of my head. It was hard to get going again in the morning, but the huge cooked breakfast with a few coffees kept us going until well into the afternoon when we arrived at Punga Cove. I really enjoyed seeing the enterprising stalls along the way - fresh fruit, water and walking sticks, all with honesty boxes, I'm sure they do a roaring trade in the hotter months. Unfortunately we had to head home the next day, but I would definitely love to come back and walk further ...
Abel Tasman Track - We were in Nelson for a family Christmas 2010 and were able to do a small section of this track. After an early morning start, with lunches and raincoats packed (a flood was on its way) and a drive to Marahau, the adventure began with a tractor ride to launch the boat to get us to Torrent Bay. The tide was right for us to take the short-cut across the estuary then up the only hill on this section of the track. The track is well used, I guess this was peak time and we seemed to spend all day saying hello to fellow walkers in both directions - all ages, shapes and sizes and from everywhere in the world! It was fantastic to see so many family groups out and about. Our raincoats were handy to sit on at lunch time and luckily that was the only use they got! Our cars were a welcome sight back in Marahau and the fresh fruit icecreams in Mouteka even better!