New Zealand is known for its stunning scenery. An island nation that’s at the same time both lushly tropical and bleakly glacial. We want to get a taste of that scenery and have started by walking the Queen Charlotte Track.
This hike is a classic. It starts at the northern end of the South Island and runs for ~60km along a lushly forested ridge. Below are countless inlets, bays, coves, and sounds. We dipped down to the sea one evening for a restaurant meal and stayed up high on other nights, enjoying the solitude of camping in the forest.
I always learn something new when I visit a new country. In the case of New Zealand, it’s that they lie about the wildlife. They tell you there are no dangerous animals. That’s not true. While you might not get eaten by a bear, there’s something even worse: the stealthy weka. This chicken-size bird lurks in the bushes waiting for you to turn your back. As soon as you do, it will pounce into your campsite, grab anything (and everything) it can get its sharp beak around, and dash off. Don’t be fooled: it may be flightless but you cannot outrun this pesky bird. You will hurt yourself if you try.
One weka successfully stole my bag of trail mix. A neighboring camper has her chocolate bar disappear. A particularly bad weka even pinched someone’s wallet. Now, how does that not qualify as dangerous wildlife?
After finishing the Queen Charlotte Track, we walked another ~20km to the small town of Havelock, known for its green mussels. It was a pretty walk but mostly on roads and hard packed cycling trails. My feet don’t do well on such hard surfaces, so I finished the walk pretty sore. Time for a nice rest before continuing south toward the mountains.