28 March 2016

The Kepler Track, Rakiura Track, Mason Bay and other Things

Catherine, Jim and Rosie at Start of Kepler Track 
This March Catherine and I along with Rosie (C's sister) and her husband Jim did a trip from Queenstown into the lower South Island and Rakiura. Our first excursion was the Kepler Track and, in retrospect, we thought it was the highlight of our trip. We took the whole four days and the weather was reasonably kind to us. We did it anticlockwise and below are a few photos. The second day over the tops was windy but the scenery and vegetation were wonderful. The remaining two days were down through beautiful bush and birds and Jim and I spent time photographing the many mushrooms which were starting to emerge from their subterranean worlds.

Kepler Mountains

Fungus Along the Way
As we emerged from the Kepler I was surprised by the big flow of water coming from Te Anau into the Wairau river and flowing into Manapouri. The next day we toured to Invercargill via Riverton and took the plane to Oban where we were met by Fiona who had arranged a house for us to stay in at reasonable rates. We had a day off and prepared ourselves for our next stage, the Rakiura track. During that afternoon we walked about Horseshoe Point where we spotted lots of birds and a white-tailed deer near the track - no wonder the island is popular with hunters.

Fledgling Kakariki on Ulva. Photo Jim Millar

Red-fronted kakariki at nest on Ulva. Photo: Jim Millar
Next morning we headed off towards Maori Beach and on to Port William hut where Catherine and I reminisced about doing the NW Circuit several years ago. Our memories were of muddy tracks and magnificent bays and beaches (and regrettably cats and kiwi and yellow-eyed penguins) - we also met the redoubtable Sandy King on her mission against the dreaded cats for the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust. The forecast for the following day was not the best but we made the journey to North Arm Hut in the rainy and windy weather, visiting the well preserved log-hauler machinery along the way. At the hut the wind was in full flight, lifting huge sheets of water off Patterson Inlet and flinging them over the hut ! The following day we continued on to Oban to complete the triangle. Once again we enjoyed the opportunity to photograph the colourful fungi and visit the occasional bay in Patterson Inlet.

We also visited Ulva Island for the day and were rewarded by the abundant birdlife - and fungi again. Jim had a good telephoto lens and took some great photos of the birdlife on the island. In particular he took some excellent shots of kakariki nesting, one of a fledgling at the entrance to the nest hole and others of a pair (one red fronted and one yellow fronted Kakariki), tending the same nest !

For our last outing we took the water taxi up to Freshwater Creek at the head of Patterson Inlet and walked across to Mason Bay and back again. Once again we were entertained by the colourful fungi along the track and the wives turned out to be very abled and valued 'spotters', especially on the lower part of the track up to Rocky Mountain at the end while we were waiting for the water taxi. We didn't get to see a kiwi but heard them and saw lots of evidence of their presence (footprints, droppings and probing holes) - also, unfortunately, seeing foot prints which could only belong to cats. After leaving Rakiura we made our way back to Queenstown via the Catlins where we we enjoyed seeing the Hector's Dolphins and witnessed a mother Hookers Sealion struggling to save a mortally injured pup. She lost the battle. Sad; something that happens all the time in nature. Retirement is proving to be great fun.

More Fungi on the Rakiura

Yet More Fungi near Freshwater Creek.- Entoloma

Kepler Track on Last Day

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