Day One. Expedition stewart island
The first day of walking.
I made my way down to the beach where I had organized for the kids from the local school here in Oban to meet me, the whole school came down and were waiting for me to leave.It was such a great feeling knowing I was going to be able to share this special moment with the kids. I drew a line in the sand and said ” let’s do this” The kids and I took the first step of my expedition. Together we made our way along the first beach and onto secret locals track around to the next beach. The kids were frothing at the chance to be out on a school day exploring around the rocks. I felt so proud that I had started this. One of the younger boys came up to me and complained that he was going to have to walk back and that it wasn’t fair that he had to walk further than me… I don’t think he realized what I was doing. Together we went around to one more bay before they left me and headed back to school before they walked away they gave me a huge group hug. That made me feel so good. A friend I had made over breakfast had also joined me on this short little walk; let’s call her captain Saff she was so inspired by what I was doing. She was a young foreign girl who was passionate about all living things but in particular the birds. She was in the perfect pace for the birds. She walked with me for another few minutes before giving me a long hug and heading back to work I knew that hug was going to be the last human contact I was going to have for a long time, so I appreciated it a lot.
“LONLYNESS IS GOING TO BE THE TOUGHEST PART OF THIS ADVENTURE”
I followed the road up and over the hill to horseshoe bay where I hit the coast. On my map, I could see there was a predator fence around a peninsula. I decided I would walk the coast until I reached the end of it then follow it over the hill. I got to the bottom and suddenly realized it was going to be a full on climb, to get up. It was about 30m up a cliff; I started climbing. The ground was so loose almost everything I grabbed was loose. It was so dodgy, halfway up I slipped, and a stick went through my hand. It was so painful. I pulled it out and climbed the rest of the way up the cliff with blood running off my hand. I dealt with my wound with my first aid kit; it wasn’t as bad as I had originally thought; it just bled a lot.
There was a firebreak in the bush next to the fence, so walking was very easy at times it got steep and slippery I was already starting to do a lot of thinking, but I was still stuck in the world of humanisation. The birds were everywhere even birds I had never heard before. I saw my first whitetail deer on this bit of my adventure. I came up over the brow of one of the hills and right there in front of me was a young deer; I dropped down to the ground, took my bow and slowly started crawling towards the creature. When I was about ten meters away, I strung an arrow and slowly rose from the long grass to take aim. As I did, the deer and I both looked at each other in the eyes. His eyes were big and black it felt like I was looking into its soul. I was looking down the shaft of my arrow. I realized I couldn’t bring myself to kill this creature it was so beautiful and it would have been a waste of a life. I lowered my bow and slowly sat back down in the grass. The deer approached me to get a better look; It got so close I could have almost touched it. This moment was so incredible. I had realized at this moment that since I let the wild I had grown as a human in such a positive way but I had lost the spiritual connection that I had with nature.I followed the fence until it popped out at the start of the Rakiura track. That’s one of the nine great walks we have in New Zealand. IT WAS LIKE A BLOODY ROAD. The track was so well maintained graveled, groomed, trees trimmed. It was such a surprise as I had had no idea what to expect. I couldn’t believe how big the trees were! The track followed the coast all day; it was so beautiful. The water looked like it could be surrounding a tropical island, not a subantarctic one.
I had eaten a large meal for breakfast today at the hotel restaurant, sausages, eggs, hash browns, beans and mushrooms ah it was so amazing. It was getting later in the day, and I needed to go and get dinner. I dropped off the track and onto the rocks. I clambered around the coast till I found an appropriate bit to hop in and start looking for something to eat. I stripped down completely naked put on my mask and jumped in. My body immediately went into shock the water was about 7 degrees I couldn’t even think. I got to work knowing I didn’t have long, I could already feel the blood rushing away from my hands and feet and into my core. I dove down and quickly found paua the size of my face on the rocks I grabbed and twisted them to remove from the rocks. Once I had five I climbed out of the icy water and dried off. My skin felt like it had shrunk to my body I was so cold. It was a sunny day, so the warm sun had been heating the rocks all my clothes were on that was a nice feeling putting on warm clothes. I prepped the paua for dinner by removing their shells and putting them in a dry bag.
I followed the coast around the corner from my dive spot and climbed off up into the bush where I knew the track would be I was raising as I walked that as soon as you’re off the track the going gets tough, the bush was thick with vines and ferns some were very hard to walk through. I popped out onto the track and continued along it towards my campsite for the night; the clouds were producing unique shapes in the sky I was entertaining myself creating shapes in my head with them. I eventually arrived at a doc campsite were I was contemplating camping, I had been walking for about 17km and I was tired, but there was a fire burning inside me that was driving me to continue. This was the end of the great walk track. The northern circuit track was to take me around the north of the island. This track was so muddy! I was instantly in mud that was deeper than my boots. They filled with smelly mud and just like that my feet were wet…
“LIVING MY DREAM. MY DREAM IS TO DO WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY”
There were a crazy amount of rats on the track; I counted 47 of them. I later found out that because the weather had been so good the last year and all the rats had ridiculous amounts of seeds to eat that’s their primary food. But it was running out, and they had started to eat each other.
Bungaree hut was the name of the spot I was going to stay at; it was only 2km from the point I left the last track. When I arrived, I discovered the hut was full of doc volunteer staff, so I decided I was going pitch my tent for the night. I put it up next to the hut, one of the occupants came out and warned me about the rats. I got out my paua and some supplejack I had picked out ready for dinner; my liquid gas cooker wouldn’t even start at this point I just couldn’t make it light. I might have brought the wrong fuel for it I was gutted! I knew raw paua was almost unedible for me because of the texture. Just when I had given up on the cooking of dinner, a friendly man came out of the hut and offered me his gas cooker to use. I was so thankful that I was going to have a hot meal, it was flipn delish!
My body was so tired from such a big day! Laying there in my tent, I began to think about Ngaio and how much I missed her! It was just becoming apparent that this was going to be a very lonely adventure and it scared me. I sat outside my tent and watched the stars move as the earth turned before sliding into my tent to get some much-needed rest.
“DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND YOU WONT WORK A DAY IN YOUR LIFE”
#survival #stewartisland #wild #camping #hiking #adventure #explore