Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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Our group of 12 was led by Paul Ungemuth and Carl Yang. Our group was all of good medium fitness and we were able to maintain walking times each day within the DOC estimates. After our groups arrived by small planes at Oban on Stewart Island on 27 December we enjoyed another day exploring the walks around Oban before meeting our shuttle bus just after 9am on the morning of 27 December which took us to the beginning of the track at Lee Bay. The first day’s walk follows the beautiful north coast of Stewart Island where there are lovely white sandy beaches and rocky headlands. We stopped for lunch about 12.30pm followed by a devotions where Paul talked about the importance of our tongue and how it can be used for a logos of building up rather than the cycle of negativity which so often prevails in our world.

We arrived at the Fort William hut around 2pm and had a glorious sunny afternoon either exploring the next bay or enjoying the parklike surrounds and sea view out the front from the hut. The hut had a long veranda along the front. While soaked up the scene a White-tailed deer came twice to graze alongside the hut.


The day was cloudy as we walked inland across to the North Arm Hut which is located on one of the waterways coming off Patterson Inlet. We left around 9am and arrived at the hut at about 3pm having twice climbed to around 200m on a track typical Stewart Island forest which includes much more variety than many South Island forests – including many great ancient Rimu trees and the occasional (red) flowering rata. Birdlife includes many native pigeons, often a noisy Kaka (large parrot), numerous Robins, Fantails and Tuis. About half an hour from Port William was the remains of two engines used to pull logs in the old sawmilling days. Fortunately the logging appears to have been in designated areas because most of our walk was mature forest. During our walk on day two Tina gave a wonderful devotion about encouraging people and what a difference that makes.

At the huts everyone pitched in and we had wonderful meals. In the evening we playing a dice game as well as cards. It was fun getting to know people. Apart from our group there was a variety of nationalities. A special experience each day was the early part of the dawn chorus (about 5.30am) which was characterised by the beautiful pure bell-like sounds of the Bell bird.


On the third day we again started around 9am and there was light rain for the first hour. This part of the walk followed the edge of the bays on Patterson Inlet where there used to be logging, sawmilling and boat building starting from the 1860s but long since ceased. Little evidence of this now remains apart from the former roadway we followed for the last hour before concluding our tramp in a backstreet behind Oban, which we followed back toward the hostel, arriving around 1pm. Another Great Walk completed!
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