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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Rakiura Track

NEW ZEALAND | Friday, 19 October 2018 | Views [228]

Nearly 10 years ago to the day I was first here, I've returned to Stewart Island. 42 countries and seven continents later, it remains one of my favourite places on Earth. It's more difficult to see a kiwi in the wild than it is to see a koala, but it was here where I first saw tokoeka (the Maori name for kiwi). When I first came to NZ in '08 I was told "if you want to see a kiwi in the wild, go to the pub up the road, watch a girl get drunk off her face until she gets her top off...then you've seen a Kiwi in the wild." I wasn't after that sort. Plural for New Zealanders is "Kiwis" whereas the bird is still just "kiwi." 

Aside from "Rakiura" which means "glowing sky," Stewart Island is also known as Te Punga o Te Waka a Maui, meaning "the anchor stone of Maui's canoe." At the start of the Rakiura Track is a giant chain.

Though it doesn't run all the way across the strait, another set of chain links can be found in Bluff. 

No kiwi seen on the first day. I sure picked a miserable day to start the Rakiura Track. Conditions, on a positive note, have kept the sandflies at bay. Stewart Island is one of my favourite places on Earth. Here at Port William Hut it's rather quiet: the rain and wind are rather powerful and won't let up yet and haven't all night but I sat by the fire and chatted to a couple named Julie and Dave and their friend Patricia. The latter is a Kiwi but has lived in the UK for the past 42 years. As I walked in I was getting soaked on a gorgeous beach as the sun kept trying to poke through. A roast lamb camping meal and several cups of coffee would be my dinner. I'm elated I came back to Stewart Island and did it right this time, even though my plans changed a bit. Originally I planned on walking the Northwest Circuit Track but rather what happened to me last week I realized I need to invest in some better gear. Most notably, I need a good raincoast and a personal locator beacon (PLB). 

I hardly slept at all at Port William Hut despite having a good feed and sitting warm by the fire the previous evening. There's rather little to see on the second day of the walk since you're under forest for much of the day. The weather came right, however, and only a few hours after setting out, I reached North Arm Hut for some lovely photos of the area.

Each of the huts has a geocache placed at them, although I couldn't find the cache at Port William Hut. As I set my boots out to dry, I realized I have kissing boots. 

Though my boots are wet, I haven't endured knee-deep mud as I could have on the Northwest Circuit. After sleeping a bit better it was time to walk back toward Oban. There would be no drama this time of getting lost and having to call for help. I love the wilderness and it must be treated with respect. I've now completed three of the nine (soon to be ten) NZ Great Walks. Having completed the Rakiura Track and having walked from Freshwater Hut to Mason Bay back in '08, I've now done three different sections of the Northwest Circuit Track. Next year I'd love to do the full circuit and see some more kiwi. Tonight it would be fish & chips with a glass of white wine as I chatted to Craig and Natalia. They're a nice couple I met here 10 years ago and I caught up with them in Takaka back in '14. 

This time round, Stewart Island gets a 10 out of 10, and it remains one of my favourite places on Earth. Barring something drastic, I've promised myself the Northwest Circuit for next year, with a good raincoat and PLB in hand. 

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