My transport and accommodation for the Queen Charlotte Track were provided by the Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company, as part of Tourism New Zealand’s Explore Media program.
The Tongariro Crossing was transformative for me.
After spending my entire life avoiding exercise of any form — preferring to drive rather than walk, refusing to hike because I didn’t have the fitness levels — I finally realised that I wasn’t as unfit as I had originally thought, and that exercise could actually be enjoyable.
Fresh with enthusiasm for my new-found love of hiking, I was soon on the hunt for a new challenge.
Something that would be even tougher.
Something that would test my body in ways that once seemed impossible.
…Something like a 71 kilometre hike?
And that was how I found myself in a supermarket in Picton accidentally buying 3 kilograms of dried apricots.
“You’ll want to pick up some snacks that are high in carbs, protein, and fat. You know, like nuts and seeds and…” Dustin trailed off as I cried out in disgust.
“Nuts and seeds?! I can’t… I mean, I just… I can’t eat those…” I whispered before darting over to the dried fruit section where I began frantically shovelling hundreds of apricots into a bag.
$20 worth of apricots.
(And seven chocolate bars.)
I was prepared for the hike!
I thought the hike would be easy — Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company, the friendly company we had arranged the hike through, had a pretty sweet set-up. We were provided with packed lunches, had our main backpacks water-taxied from one accommodation to the next, and the accommodation options were fantastic too.
All I had to worry about was not dying.
The three day hike is split up into reasonably manageable portions — 14 km on the first day, 12km on the second and 29.5km on the third.
I know. I was totally pretending that third day didn’t exist.
The walk was tough, and there was whimpering, pulled muscles and legs giving way. Several times we all thought I wouldn’t make it, several times I was close to collapse.
It was, however, a stunningly beautiful part of the world and I ended up taking over 1000 photos during my three days of hiking. I’ll be writing about this in detail next week, but for now I’d like to share with you the beauty of the hike that I couldn’t appreciate while I was staggering along with three kilograms of dried apricots on my back…