Posted by: Talie Morrison | January 22, 2015

Stewart Island – Northwest Circuit (again)

NorthWest Circuit – Stewart Island


It is hard for me to believe that in just the last 29 days, I have been out backpacking here in New Zealand for 20 of those days!   Got to love it!


The first trip was the Northwest Circuit on Stewart Island.   I did that route once before in 2010 and I loved it.   So when a friend (that I met last year) said he and some others were doing the Northwest and Southern Circuits and I was welcome to join them, I (of course) said, “Yes!”

It was fun to be part of a “gang” – of course they were all 30+ years younger than me!   I walked alone most of the days – which suits me fine – I can go my own pace.   And then it was fun chatting with them in the evenings.   They are all of Russian descent (living in New Zealand or Australia), so I had to get them to stop talking Russian when I was with them!   And, no, I didn’t pick up any Russian words!


The track was pretty much as I remembered it – my favorite hut on that circuit will always be “Long Harry Hut” – it is a special hut in an outstanding spot!   And I loved the beaches – the track goes through the bush for a ways (usually up and over a ridge) and then comes down to another perfect deserted beach.   Awesome!   I guess I can’t say “deserted” because that is where the sandflies hang out!   But I have my homemade remedy of sandfly repellant which seems to work pretty well.


After 7 nights on the circuit, I needed to decide if I was going to continue on with “my Russians” and do the Southern Circuit, or take the easier way across the island.   I finally had to call “Uncle” and bail out for the Southern Circuit.   I probably could have done it, but it wouldn’t have been pretty and most likely not fun!   (Maybe next year I will go back to Stewart Island and do just the Southern Circuit.)   So I hiked across the middle of the tracks to the Freshwater Hut.   That night we had 9 people in the hut (I was sleeping in my hammock outside so it was no problem for me).   Since it was New Year’s Eve, we decided to do an International Pot Luck to celebrate.   There were 3 Germans, 2 Japanese, 1 Swiss, 1 Kiwi, 1 Brit, and 1 USA (that’s me of course!).   Everyone fixed their regular backpacking fare and we shared.   It was way fun – and lots of different textures, spices and some new ideas!   None of us made it awake to midnight (and we couldn’t even claim that it was midnight somewhere else already – because New Zealand is the first time zone at the start of the date line).

Since I had bailed out on the Southern Circuit, I had extra days before my booking for the Ferry back to the South Island, so I took my time and camped out in the bush a couple of nights on the way back to Oban.  One day, I stopped at 10:30 am and had fresh mussels (which I picked off the rocks) for morning tea!   It was great to see that my gear (especially my hammock system) worked well in the bush!




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