Distance today: 4km
Distance total: 1931.0km
Time hiked: 1h 12min
Time total: 567h 02min
The sailing across Cook Straight is straightforward: check-in at 8, boarding at 8:15 and departure at 9. According to the very Scandinavian sounding captain the winds will be around 25 to 30 knots. So nothing serious.
Standing there on the top deck, looking back at slowly disappearing Wellington, is an emotional moment. On the one hand I'm very happy and excited to finally hike on the South Island, on the other hand I feel kind of sad to leave behind the North Island, where I experienced countless of memorable moments and met so many amazing people during my 73 days on the trail.
As it's getting quite uncomfortable up there once on the open sea, I spend the rest of the crossing down in one of the many lounges.
Disembarking is a breeze and I head straight over to Beachcomber as their departure to Ship Cove is less than 30 minutes away. They still have space and even give me a nice TA discount.
The 3 hours-ride through the sounds is extremely interesting, especially with the rapidly improving weather. On the way north, the boat passes Shags, resting on a rock and during a short break and a hike up Motuara Island, I spot my first South Island Robin. Cute little bird! And on the way down a Kereru takes me by surprise flying past my head, less than a meter away.
Shortly before 4, the boat drops me and 16 teenagers on a school trip off at Ship Cove. The first campsite at Schoolhouse Bay is only 4 kilometers away, to the second it would be another 22 kilometers. As it's already 4, I opt for the lazy option and only hike as far as Schoolhouse Bay.
The hike is easy. Mostly along 4WD tracks. A bit more than an hour after I started, I reach the camp, idyllically located right by the beach.
I enjoy the quiet and the peace long as I can, as I know the 16 teenagers will join me at the camp, which has an official capacity of 6 tents. It's gonna be crowded...
Once the first kids arrive it's abruptly over with the tranquility. Very interesting to observe them pitching up their tents though. For some of them it's obviously their first time ;)
Eventually all tents are pitched up and they really have a good time. Some even go swimming. Tough guys and girls!
As I'm super tired, I retreat to my tent while the kids are still cooking. Last night was hard to sleep. The dorm was completely full and there was a continuous coming and going.
But I fear tonight won't be much easier to get some good sleep neither ;)