Banks Peninsula 4-night tramp


Wearing a backpack for the first time in many years I just completed a four-night 35 km tramp. Fist bump!

Primitive backpacking this was not. Each night we stayed in unique lodges (blue icons on the map) complete with kitchens, hot showers, bunks and, in two locations, tiny honor-system stores. (Imagine your childhood ‘playing store’ fantasy. This is what the stores looked like.) We shared accommodations with eight other trampers including an adorable young Dutch couple whom the rest of us took turns mothering and fathering. (“Ya. You are packing my lunch, right moeder?”)

The scenery was spectacular. Each step took my full concentration on the ground (I fell twice) so I was forever pausing to look around and thank God for His works. Vignettes include turquoise water so clear you could look down from cliffs to see Hector’s dolphins or fur seals swimming below, New Zealand silver tree ferns spread above like giant green peacock fans, hiking in ethereal mist, dodging sheep poop while listening to mama’s call ‘maaaaaaaa’ to their babies, and pausing to relish bellbird and tui song in the majestic otherwise silent beech forest.

The Banks Peninsula is home to two of New Zealand’s three types of penguins. The yellow-eyed penguin (‘hoiho’ in Maori) is the world’s rarest penguin. They breed in scattered pairs around the peninsula. More common (ha!) is the white-flippered little blue penguin. On the second night of the tramp (Flea Bay) we donned camo and were led to a blind where we could spy on both! On a rocky ledge we spotted a little penguin try to join two yellow-eyes. (Little penguins are half the size of yellow-eyes.) When he got too close one of the yellow-eyes knocked him off the ledge. We thought he was a goner but a few minutes later he popped up again. Scenario repeated twice more. Some fellows just don’t pick up on social cues.

On the third night we stayed in a whimsical hobbit-like compound (Stony Bay). One wall of the shower house was an enormous tree. (Go ahead and hang your towel on a branch!) Forrest and I had our own wee (and I mean wee) cottage and on the front porch was a box with a sign on it: Penguin home. Please whisper. Upon opening the top we were delighted with a mama and two chicks we named Chilly and Willy. We were not delighted with the stench.

You are wondering where my photos are, aren’t you? We had an opportunity to sea kayak in one of the fiord looking bays. We kayaked past seal pups and penguin rafts. Unfortunately the dry-sack holding our newly purchased compact oh-so-cool oh-so-expensive Sony camera leaked. Not having means to take photos on this trip left me feeling limb-less. Fellow-trampers have promised to send some photos which I will post later.

“Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.” (Job 37:14)