Saturday, 7 March 2020

Lightweight food options....self heating Omeal range cook tramping food...

My partner Karen and I tried something new on our tramp on the Rakuira Track, the new range of self heating meals called Omeals. Omeals are a product new to the New Zealand market and are basically like a US military have the pouch of wet food, a water activated heating element and an outer bag to contain the meal.

Using them requires no external heating or even hot water as you simply add about a cup of cold water to the pack, add the food & unwrapped heater pack and wait as it chemically heats the food. This means you can potentially eat in the back-country without carrying the extra weight of cooker, gas canister and cooking pot....usually a saving of 500-700gms. 

No cook tramping...forgo the cooker, gas canister and cook pot!!!

There are a variety of meals available for both breakfast and main meals including gluten free and vegetarian versions. These meals are currently only available from Hunting and Fishing stores ($15 per meal) but I could see more shops carrying them as an option if the demand was high enough. 

Review of the meals I have tried from the Omeal range...

We tried a couple of different varieties of these meals including a breakfast option and two of the main meal options. Here is a list of all of the options currently available from Hunting and Fishing stores:

Hashbrown Potato, Oatmeal, Vegetable Stew with Beef, Chicken Creole, South West Chicken, Spaghetti Bolognese, Red Lentils with Beef, Cheese Tortellini with Tomato Sauce and Pasta Fagioli...

Another option: vegetarian Pasta Fagioli

There are a number of other meals but they are not yet available in this country, have a look at my comments on the meals we have tried below..... 

Southwest Style Chicken

We tried these meals as an experiment on the second night of our Rakuira Track walk...I thought it would be a good option after a tiring seven hour day. Karen chose one meal for herself and I chose one for me. My choice was the Southwest Style Chicken....stewed chicken, rice, beans, corn and other vegetables. 

It was well cooked without being over soft and you could clearly make out all of the flavor profiles of his very popular SW American style dish. The sauce is tomato based but was rich and dark with the slightest touch of chilli flavor to it. It was very nice and I would have no problems eating this one again...

Hashbrown Potatoes

We had the Hashbrown Potatoes for breakfast and unlike other all day breakfast options I have tried (Back Country and Mountain House) this one is bloody good. This hashbrown mix is really good and has distinct flavors of potato, onion, green peppers (capsicum) and bacon. It is absolutely beautiful and I have subsequently used it on two further tramping trips.

It is grated and cooked potato with additions and while intended as a main meal or meal accompaniment but it is at breakfast where it excels. I have always had problems with breakfast meals..I like porridge and muesli but it does get boring after a couple of days. I have so far paired this with salami sticks, spam and cold sausages and it is awesome with all of them. 

While this would not totally supplement the usual morning staples it is certainly another excellent no mess breakfast option when planning meals for your tramps. I will be using this into the future.....

Lentils with Beef

Karen had this for dinner as she enjoys lentils and it has a mixture of beef pieces, lentils, cubed carrots and a tomato based sauce in a thick curry like meal. It has a rich savory flavor and smells really delicious. 

The carrots and lentils were well cooked without being mush and there were plenty of chunky pieces of slow simmered beef which flaked to the fork. The flavor was strongly of tomato but with a deep beef essence, coriander, onion and garlic. It was really nice...probably better than the South West Chicken but not by far..I would buy this one again.

Are there down sides to Omeals?

There is not a lot wrong with these..generally they tick all the right boxes for nutrition, ease of use and general weight savings. They do have a number of down points mainly the waste associated with them, cost and weight of the packs.

There is a lot of waste packaging with these meals but then there is with all food and dehydrated meals in particular. They do weigh 227 gms which is heavy for a single meal but this can be partially addressed by removing the enclosed spoon, napkin and salt and pepper pack. They cost $15 which seems a lot though any dehydrated meal will currently set you back for $12-$19 anyway.

All of the commercial freeze dried meal ranges available in New Zealand

It is all about choice get to choose what you will carry...this is just another option. 

These are another option when meal planning for your outdoor adventures and you should give them a try at least once to see if they fit into your tramping style and dietary requirements. I am really pleased to see these meals as another tool in the outdoor cookery chest.  I will add a review for any other meals I use from this range so make sure you check back in the future to see what other options I have sampled.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Rakuira Great Walk Track: 21-23 January 2020: Day 2-3

On the Rakuira Track from Port William to Oban

I have several sections of the Te Araroa Trail on my to do list for the 2019/2020 season. The first I have completed is the extension tramp of the Rakuira Great Walk Track on Rakuira/Stewart Island. This is not a part of the official TA trail but just a personal section I have added. On this trip I had my partner Karen who often goes out on tramping trips with me. 

Oban is the start and finish of the Rakuira Track

Here we are back for Day 2 and Day 3 of our recent tramp of the Rakuira Great Walk Track...

Day Two was a 13km (six hour) walk from Port William Hut to North Arm Hut overlooking Patterson Inlet. The track from Port William to North Arm was the roughest of the trip and required a lot of muddy up and down climbing. Never going higher than 200 meters asl it was still hard yakka but it also featured some awesome scenery as a compensation... 

Dawn at Port William, Rakuira Track, Rakuira

North Arm Hut is the other Great Walk hut you stay in if you are walking this track and its a real beauty. It is newer than Port William and has an fine view of Patterson Inlet which lies on the south eastern side of Rakuira. On day three it was back on the North West Circuit Track and another 14 km slog into the main settlement at Oban passing through a number of bays and over a succession of headlands enroute

North Arm Hut, Rakuira Track, Rakuira

The walk out to Oban on day three was long but in many ways the easiest of the tramp as the track is in good condition and has a less large hills to climb.  I must say we were mighty pleased when the red roof of the South Seas Hotel hove into view at the end of a long and tiring seven hour day. 

Walking into Oban at the end of the Rakuira Track, Rakuira
We shouted ourselves to a well deserved jug of finest ale at the South Seas Hotel when we arrived in Oban and ohhhhhhhh boy did that bugger go down smooth.....

Anyway, lets return to the action at Port William Hut....

Day two....Port William Hut to North Arm Hut

We were up and moving early (as is my norm) and out on the track before 8 am as we had a 13 km, 6 hour walk ahead of us. The first section of the route was heading back along the track we followed the previous day, then taking the North Arm Track across the middle of this end of Rakuira. 

Setting out from Port William Hut, Rakuira Track, Rakuira

Magnetic Beach, Port William, Rakuira Track, Rakuira

We passed the Port William campsite along the way...there were 5-6 tents there and already most of the people were up and getting ready to move. The campsites along the track all looked nice...each of them are on relatively flat ground and all had a camp site shelter for cooking and socializing under. 

The camp site at Port William, Rakuira Track, Rakuira

Once past the campsite it was right back into the hill climbing...something you will be doing for the next 2-3 hours. It is about 1.5 km's back to the North Arm Track junction but your passage is eased by the relatively gentle gradient and good condition of the track. I still didn't enjoy walking up all those stairs but it was something I got used to as you have a lot of them to climb over the three days. 

Climbing back up to the North Arm Track, Rakuira Track, Rakuira

Side Stream near Port Wiliam, Rakuira Track, Rakuira

Karen is dwarfed by a mature Rimu Tree...Rakuira Track, Rakuira

We were back at the track junction by 9 am and then started the climb up the first part of North Arm Track. The track was quite muddy and ill formed in places but the going was generally ok...either compacted soil or hard gravel track with track mat over the most muddy and or slippery areas of track. 

The day was overcast with occasional drizzle and we were walking in low cloud when we got to the high point of the track just before the descent down to the log haulers.

Turn off to the North Arm Track, Rakuira Track, Rakuira

Climbing up from the North Arm Track Junction, Rakuira Track, Rakuira

Mist drifts through the trees on the North Arm Track, Rakuira

More open forest on the ridge top along the beginning of North Arm Track, Rakuira

Our gaiters started to come into their own from here as we proceeded to liberally cover our legs up to our knees with mud. It had rained over night so the track was wet and exhibited a number of states of muddiness as we made our way to North Arm. 

Rakuira Track mud types....dry and thick....

Rakuira Track Mud...wet and gooey...

Rakuira Track mud...wet and watery...the worst kind!!!!

About 20 minutes from the North Arm Track junction you arrive at a clearing in the forest with some relics of the old timber milling industry which existed on Rakuira. There are a couple of old log haulers and some interpretive panels here which explain the logging history on this part of the island. 

Mature podocarp trees felled near here were transported down to the sawmill at Maori Beach using huge log haulers...steam engines with a series of cables for pulling the logs across the hillsides. The cut timber was then shipped from Maori Beach to Oban, Bluff and elsewhere around the country. It would have been hard work living here..cold, wet, dirty and lonely.....

Arriving at the old logging relics on the north Arm Track, Rakuira

An old log hauler on the hills above Maori Beach, Rakuira Track

A second log hauler at the same location.. Rakuira Track

Information panel about logging in the hills above Maori Beach,  Rakuira Track

Detail of the old log haulers... Rakuira Track
After a 15 minute break at the log haulers we set out once start we descended a number of staircases down to the no name creek and bridge along the base of Pt. 209. I have taken to calling this Maori Creek as it empties onto Maori Beach. From there we started a slow climbing sidle around the base of Pt.209 before crossing another bridge to arrive at the start of the largest of the climbs we faced on the day.

Lots of stairs heading down from the logging relics Rakuira Track

...even more stairs heading to Maori Creek, Rakuira Track

...and Jon on even more damn stairs heading down to Maori Creek, Rakuira Track

Forest corridor leading down to Maori Creek, Rakuira Track

Maori Creek (my actually has no name...) at the base of Pt. 209 was very picturesque and we stopped here for a drink and to take a couple of photos.  There were some nice looking scratch camping sites along the bank of the creek although you would have to think about the legality of camping there. Also...if camping here you would have to watch that stream if it rained..the valley bottom was narrow so it could easily flood. 

First fixed bridge on the North Arm Hut Track, Rakuira Track

Looking down No-name Creek (Maori Creek), Rakuira Track

Again the first creek on the North Arm Track, Rakuira Track

We continued on for another kilometer before arriving at the second fixed bridge on this section of the Rakuira Track. We stopped just before the bridge for morning tea as the next hour and a half was a climb up to the 200 meter asl line...the biggest climb of the day.

Coming off the first fixed bridge on the North Arm Track, Rakuira

Sidling past Pt. 209 on North Arm Track, Rakuira

Snack stop in the shadow of Pt. 209, North Arm Track

Karen's Osprey Ariel 65 pack in action.....
Second bridge on the North Arm Track, Rakuira

We spent the next hour and a half climbing up to the high point of the North Arm Track at the 200 asl wasn't too difficult but it was long and tiring. The track slowly climbs to 180 meters and then you spend about 45 minutes going up and down along the crest of one of the ridges never losing or gaining more than 20 meters. 

Starting the big climb...North Arm Track

Back in the cloud near Pt.183 on the North Arm Track

Nice bush as we approach the 180 asl line, North Arm Track, Rakuira

More of that Rakuira mud on the North Arm Track

Slow up hill plod for most of the morning...North Arm Track, Rakuira

We stopped for lunch when we got to the plateau at the top of the 180 asl line near Pt. 183...there were a couple of nicely positioned logs to sit on. We were joined there by a couple of other people who were walking the track with us (a German dude and a couple of Dutch women). 

We had a good 30 minute break and rested the legs as we munched our crackers, salami and cheese. It was a nice sheltered spot and the sun came out for part of our break. 

A Permolat track marker on the North Arm Track, Rakuira

Our lunch spot half way between Port William and North Arm Hut, Rakuira

Interesting tree near our lunch stop, North Arm Track, Rakuira

Ferns and moss growing on a old tree, North Arm Track, Rakuira

We set off again and continued with the up and down ridge line travel all of which was between 180-200 asl. It was muddy along here as there are semi dry bogs right along this more or less level section of the track. 

You could see that DOC are in the process of metalling this whole section as it obviously gets wet in the rain. The metalled track was hard compacted gravel and sits about a foot higher than the rest of the land...great for drainage but hard on your feet!!! 

Karen tries to avoid the mud on the North Arm Track

...yeah the track was a bit muddy...North Arm Track, Rakuira

A mostly dry bog /track o the North Arm Track, Rakuira

About a kilometer past our lunch spot there is a clearing with the Rakuira Track Biodiversity Bivouac in it and a large helicopter landing pad. This was my 199th back-country hut so of course I stopped to take a couple of photos. This bivy is used by researchers studying Kiwi and Kakariki who both live in the local area, we saw and heard many Kakariki around here...

Rakuira Track Biodiversity a clearing near Pt. 183, North Arm Track

Rakuira Track Biodiversity a clearing near Pt. 183, North Arm Track
More open Beech forest near the Biodiversity Hut, North Arm Track

Karen likes the look of this semi submerged punga as she thought it looked like a kind of does...

Karen thought this Punga looked like a snake.....

Starting to descend down to North Arm Hut, Rakuira

Another foot bridge on North Arm Track, Rakuira

You cross the third and last fixed bridge of the day about an hour away from North Arm Hut..there is a stream here and a small lake which is slowly filling itself with silt. We stopped for our last break near here as there was a bit of sun shining into the clearing around the bridge. 

The last hour walking from here to the North Arm Hut was the most irritating of the whole three was constant up and down for about 2 kilometers. I think mostly we were foot sore and tired as we had been walking for nearly six hours by this point. 

Final fixed bridge on North Arm Track, Rakuira

Small in-filling lake near the end of the North Arm Track, Rakuira

Last hill we climbed before reaching North Arm Hut, Rakuira

We were mighty pleased when the flat/easy North West Circuit Track hove into view and we could start walking the last 300 meters down to the hut. 

Southern end of North Arm Track, Rakuira

North West Circuit Track heading to North Arm Hut, Rakuira

North Arm-North West Circuit track junction, Rakuira

Just one more set of stairs to descend before you get to the careful on these ones as they have no hand rail and are more than a meter above the ground...easy to fall off!!!

Down the steps to the North Arm Hut, Rakuira

More goddamn steps...North West Circuit Track
First view of the north Arm Hut Wardens Quarters, Rakuira

We finally arrived at the North Arm Hut site at around 2.30 pm so we had been walking for more than six hours. Karen was awesome she trooped along with hardly any complaint and was great company over the course of a long days tramping. 

 Day two of this track is definitely the hardest...with the mud, occasional drizzle, length and up and down it makes for a hard day. Make sure you start early, take lots of water and be prepared to hump, hump and hump!!! 

At North Arm Hut...end of day two...

The first thing you see at North Arm is the hut wardens quarters and the hut toilet block...the hut itself is another 50 meters down the hill and closer to the shoreline. You know you are nearly home for the night when you get that first wiffy tang of the long drops...yummy!!!

North Arm Hut toilets, Rakuira

Heading the last 30 meters to North Arm Hut

North Arm Hut is a 24 bunk hut built in 2011 so it is still relatively new and in good condition. It has two 12 bunk sleeping rooms with platforms and a large living area set off to one side with three tables, wood burner and a massive bench area. As this is a Great Walk hut it must be pre-booked before can try arriving and hoping there is space free BUT you will be paying the full hut fee plus a 50% fine so over $110 for internationals and about $80 for Kiwis. 

North Arm Hut: the hut veranda....

North Arm Hut: the cooking benches..lotsa space!!!

Fine view of North Arm Hut on the Rakuira Track

Jon sitting outside North Arm Hut

The hut sits in a lovely spot with great vistas out to Patterson Inlet and along the nearby coastline. North Arm Hut sits on the cross over point between three tracks; Rakuira Track, North West Circuit and the Southern Circuit Track so it gets a ton of custom. 

There is a short pathway from the hut down to the shoreline and I have been told that there are a lot of shellfish (mussels, oysters, paua etc.) and fish (Blue Cod would predominate here...) in the inlet so you could supplement your menu if you wish. 

Looking into the North Arm of Patterson Inlet from the hut

On the track to the North Arm seashore

Rough conditions out on the North Arm, Rakuira
View of the North Arm from inside North Arm Hut

The weather turned about 15 minutes after we arrived at the hut and it was raining with some thunder and lightning and very strong winds for most of the evening. We made the occasional foray outside but for most of the afternoon we sat in the living area drinking tea and reading our books. 

Gradually over the next couple of hours the hut filled as people drifted in from various directions by the end of the evening we were just about full to the brim.

A hot brew was the order of the day...North Arm Hut

North Arm Hut: the eating space and wood burner

North Arm Hut: inside one of the bunkrooms...

A whole hut worth of footwear outside North Arm Hut

We went out for a short Kiwi hunt when it got dark but the conditions were really awful so we didn't even hear let alone see any. I had a negative interaction with a really rude older kiwi woman and her partner who were in the bunk-room with us but it irritates me to think about so I wont go into details. 

Needless to say some people ( entitled a-holes...) need a few lessons in hut etiquette...

Day 3....North Arm Hut to Oban (and a jug of beer!!!)

We were up early once again and after a quick breakfast we packed up our gear and got on the trail back into Oban. On day three you are walking along the North West Circuit Track as it winds over some headlands and around a number of bays. The day was overcast, cold and windy but not so bad as to preclude setting off.

...there be tygers..the North West Circuit Track at North Arm Hut...

On the North West Circuit Track heading for Oban

Day three begins...North West Circuit Track

We were the second group out of the hut and we spent most of the day walking completely by ourselves. We leapfrogged a number of other trampers over the next seven hours as we stopped or they stopped for a break or to take some photos. That's what happens on a Great Walk...busy at the huts but then you spread out along the track so you are often walking alone...

Last view of North Arm, North West Circuit Track

North Arm Hut to Oban is 12 kms on day three...Rakuira Track

The first 20 minutes is spent walking back to the track junction with the North Arm Track and then it was new territory as we headed for the first way-point of the day Sawdust Bay about an hours tramp from the hut.

At the turn off to North Arm campsite, Rakuira Track

We prepare to do battle with the last day of the Rakuira Track

First a bit of stimulating uphill action....

The wind was blowing quite hard along this section of the track as it is exposed to the full force of any wind screaming across Patterson Inlet. Later in the day the wind was less of a problem as the last four hours are spent in thick dense forest which protected us from the elements.

Climbing over the headland to Sawdust Bay, North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

First of many stairs for the day...along Pt.93,  North West Circuit Track

Open coastal forest at Pt.93 along the North West Circuit Track, Rakuira
The strong wind had produced some impressive white top waves out on Patterson Inlet and we heard later that all of the ferry sailings from Bluff were cancelled from 9 am to 4 pm in the afternoon due to extreme sea conditions. Weirdly we had mirror calm conditions on the ferry crossing the next day so we were incredibly lucky with our choice of tramping dates.

There was a bit of wind fall and wind throw on the track so we were constantly clearing branches etc. from the track...

No-name Bay from near Pt. 93,  North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

Patterson Inlet from the North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

From the first bay we climbed over the second headland of the day and slowly made our way down to Sawdust Bay. The forest along this section was a mixture of coastal and podocarp and the track was a pleasure to walk along.

One of the curiosities you pass along here is an old sunken road cutting from the milling is in the photo below and has a foot bridge across it...

Crossing an old sunken road cutting near Sawdust Bay,  North West Circuit Track
One of many footbridges we passed on day three....

Typical dense bush on the Patterson Inlet side of Rakuira/Stewart Island

We passed the source of the firewood supply we saw the helicopter delivering to Port William Hut on day one of the trip. A couple of massive red beech had fallen over the track and DOC had cut them up and bagged them so they could be moved. The 24 bags of wood I counted at Port William had come from just two trees and there were still half a dozen bags left to be moved.

Those big podocarp trees hold a lot of timber...

The source of the Port William Hut firewood... North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

 North West Circuit Track.....nice gravel track.....

...and mud on the  North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

Just before Sawdust Bay you cross over a creek then there is a small bay with some submerged log haulers sitting in chest deep water just off shore. The North Arm Hut Warden explained that they were hauled down to the coast when milling finished in the area but the owners could not figure out how to get them onto the boat they had sent so they just left them there. What a waste of energy they should just have left them in the forest...

Fixed bridge over the stream at Sawdust Bay

Shallow creek running out to Patterson Inlet at Sawdust Bay

Semi submerged log hauler at Sawdust Bay, North West Circuit Track

The track runs along the back of the beach at Sawdust Bay and when you get down to the far end you will find the Sawdust Bay campsite nestled in a grove of trees. We stopped here for our first real break of the day and had a snack and a drink while resting our feet.

The campsite must be wet as the camping spots are on American style sleeping platforms a foot or so high. There are a series of O-ring bolts screwed into the edge of the platform so you can tie your tent down. I have never seen this campsite format in New Zealand before so it may be unique to this location.

First view of Sawdust Bay,  North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

Walking along Sawdust Bay,  North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

Super rough conditions on Patterson Inlet, Sawdust Bay, Rakuira

Turn off to Sawdust Bay Campsite

The basic campsite at Sawdust Bay,  North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

Packs off for a mid morning rest, Sawdust Bay,  North West Circuit Track

After a 20 minute break we donned our packs and continued on our way towards Kidney Fern Arm and the old rock and earthen dam located there. It was much calmer through this section as the dense bush protected us from the bite of the wind.

Climbing out of Sawdust Bay,  North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

Open podocarp forest between Sawdust Bay and Kidney Fern Arm, Rakuira

Open podocarp forest between Sawdust Bay and Kidney Fern Arm, Rakuira

We made steady progress for about an hour before we stopped for lunch at a very nice clearing close to Kidney Fern Arm. It had a log to sit on and sun shinning down through a break in the forest canopy. It was another lovely spot to have some lunch...probably the best along the track.

Our lunch spot near Kidney Fern Arm, North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

We arrived at the historic dam at Kidney Fern Arm after about three and a half hours walking...this was an old dam built to power a logging camp that was once located here. This whole side of the island was once a massive logging area and you can see the slow regeneration process in the young trees in the forest through here.

Side track to historic Dam at Kidney Fern Arm, Rakuira

Part of the old rock dam at Kidney Fern Arm, Rakuira

Side track to historic Dam at Kidney Fern Arm, Rakuira
Small inlet near Kaipipi Bay, North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

The next hour is spent walking overland between Kidney Fern Arm and Kaipipi are in thick forest for all of this time. Right at the beginning of this section the track has slipped so take care following the alternate track DOC have built around the slip. At the end of the section you drop down to a footbridge which crosses the small tidal inlet at the western end of Kaipipi Bay.

Track damage at Kaipipi Bay, North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

Track damage at Kaipipi Bay, North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

Karen and I must have been over it by this point as we took a total of six photos through this whole four kilometer track section....

Walking between Kidney Fern Arm and Kaipipi

Karen next to mature Rimu, Kaipipi Bay, North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

Bridge over the Kaipipi Bay estuary, North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

 Kaipipi Bay Tidal Estuary, North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

From the tidal estuary it is just 15 minutes to Kaipipi are on Maori owned land right through here and access is only possible through the generosity of the local Iwi.

Back on Maori land near Kaipipi Bay, North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

Descending to the beach at Kaipipi Bay, Rakuira

Track junction for the beach at Kaipipi Bay and the track to Oban

Track junction for the beach at Kaipipi Bay and the track to Oban

From Kaipipi Bay it is 5 kilometers or about 1.5 hours to Oban...we didn't go down to the bay as we just wanted to get to the end of the track, so after a short five minute break near the track junction we just kept walking.

The road from here to the end of the track is actually a historic dray track so it is benched, wide and has a very gradual gradient. It is basically a gravel road so even though you are climbing the last hill of the track you make excellent time.

Starting the last climb on the North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

Historic dray track makes for speedy progress, North West Circuit Track, Kaipipi, Rakuira

The sun comes out on the last kilometer of the Rakuira Track...

The highest point of the track along here is 100 meters asl after that is is a clear down hill run to the junction of the North West Circuit Track and Ryan's Creek Track. If you follow the turn off to Ryan's Creek Track you will be following a scenic walk along the coast that will take another 2-3 hours to get to Oban.

Descending down the Oban side of the North West Circuit Track, Rakuira

Ryan's Creek and Rakuira Track Junction, Rakuira

Ryan's Creek Track...2.5 hours to Oban...

Winding down to the end of the Rakuira Great Walk....
We walked off the Rakuira Track at approximately 1 pm so we had been walking for five hours...I thought that was quite good going for 12 kilometers considering at least 40 minutes of that time was used for lunch and rest breaks.

FYI: there is a toilet located at the Fern Gully entrance to the Rakuira Track it is on the right hand side of the road as you walk off the track.

The end of the Rakuira Great Walk at Ryan's Creek Road, Rakuira

DOC map of the Patterson Inlet area of Rakuira

The end of the Rakuira Great Walk at Ryan's Creek Road, Rakuira

As always I felt a sense of elation at the end of another adventure...I really enjoyed this tramp but it was definitely type two fun....hard at the time but enjoyable in retrospect. 

BOOM....number 9 on my list of 12 Great Walks completed....yee harrrgh!!!

Fern Gully Track end to Oban

From the Fern Gully Track end it is about two kilometers into Oban along first a gravel road and then a sealed road. You can arrange for a taxi to collect you from this point but it is only 30 minutes walk so you might as well use Shanks Pony to get back to civilisation. 

Fern Gully Track on Ryan's Creek Road, Rakuira Track, Rakuira

Fern Gully Track on Ryan's Creek Road, Rakuira Track, Rakuira

On Ryan's Creek Road into Oban, Rakuira Track, Rakuira

We meandered down the road in rain showers passing a number of remote houses along the certainly had a country feel to it what with the various old car bodies, derelict boats and house buses scattered over the lawns. It reminded me of what the West Coast used to be like before idiotic house prices made old dumps in places like Blackball and Kumara near million dollar holiday homes....

An old fishing boat outside a property on Ryan's Creek Road, Rakuira

Walking along Ryan's Creek Road, Rakuira

On Ryan's Creek road heading for Oban, Rakuira

Mill Creek alongside Ryan's Creek Road, Rakuira

End of Ryan's Creek Road start of Main Road, Rakuira

We finally rolled into Oban at around 2 pm and we were both glad to see the red roof of the South Seas Hotel shining like a beacon down by the waters edge. We immediately went to the public bar and had an ice cold jug of finest ale and boy did that frothy goodness taste good.....

Oh my does a beer ever taste as good as after completing a long and dusty walk...I don't think so.

Entering Oban on Main Road, Rakuira....South Seas Hotel directly ahead...

We stayed the night at the South Seas Hotel and then traveled back to Bluff on the 9 am ferry on some of the calmest, flattest ocean surfaces I have ever seen so a perfect end to an excellent trip.

I absolutely love Rakuira/Stewart Island and cannot wait till I get back...I am already scheming a return to do either the North West Circuit (10 days) or Southern Circuit Track (5 days). The Rakuria Track is challenging in places but it is awesome and if you have ever had a hankering to go and walk it I urge you to do so.

I would put this in the top five of the Great Walks...Milford, Heaphey are my 1-2...the Rakuira followed by Lake Waikaremoana are my 3-4 so this is my third favorite Great Walk. The things I like the most about the Rakuira Track are the remote feeling, the multitude of native birds and the beautiful scenery. 

Rakuira is a unique place in the world and makes a superb end to your Te Araroa adventure so it is well worth taking some effort to visit. 

Access: From Oban take Horseshoe Bay Road and then Lee Bay Road to the start of the track at Lee Bay. Alternately take Main Road to Ryans Creek Road to access the Fern Gully end of the Great Walk. There is a taxi service to the track ends, it cost us $25 for two people. 
Track Times: 13 km/6-7 hours from Port William Hut to North Arm Hut. 14 km/6 hours walk from North Arm Hut to Oban. 
Hut Details: Port William Hut: Great Walk, 24 bunks, tank water, toilets, woodburner with wood supplied: Rakuira Track Biodiversity Hut, DOC Staff hut between Port William and North Arm Huts, no overnight stay, toilet, water tank: North Arm Hut: Great Walk: 24 bunks, tank water, toilets, woodburner with wood supplied. There are campsites at various locations along the track. 
Miscellaneous: This is a Great Walk so huts/campsites are on the DOC hut booking system, must be booked for overnight visit. Hut wardens in residence over summer season (October to April).