Wee trip in Westland

I’ve been wanting to do this trip in Westland for sometime now and have had to cancel previous trips due to weather warnings. Thankfully it all came together this time and my friend Sam and I headed off despite it being the tail end of another weather warning! We planned to drive over on towards Jackson Bay and camp for a night before heading off on the tramp and to have a poke around for some pounamu on the coast which was partially successful. What was more succesful was the delicious gourmet burgers cooked up on the Ozpig.

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Sam cooking up grub!

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Low point of the trip…. sandflies. EVERYWHERE!! Even on this inside of my car.

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  Not bad grub for camping!

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Thankfully we didn’t end up sharing our dinner but if we’d turned out backs for a second I am sure we would have!

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Not the worst place to camp for a night

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Clear skis and the Tasman Sea

We awoke to what sounded like an absolute torrential downpour but alas it was not. But it was about 10x worse!! There was an estimated (and not  exaggerate) 10,000+ sandflies in between the fly sheet and the inside of the tent. Thankfully the bug net had done its job rather well however this was still a surprisingly stressful situation and resulted on us packing up and hitting the trail ASAP. We planned to take the inland route into the Stafford Hut which despite being a pretty short route was pretty hard work. Dry feet were not the order of the day but so long as you don’t mind that it’s all good. Lots of muddy bogs and pretty overgrown in places but as its by no means the most well used hut out there.

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Our route in and out to Stafford Bay

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One of the easier river crossings on the way. Almost waist deep and fast flowing as we got closer to the hut.

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Cliché shot of morning due on spider’s web…

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Plenty hunters use the hut

After 3.5 hours we arrived at the hut and were very grateful to get out of our soaking wet boots and get a some grub and a hot drink. There proved to be no escape from sandflies here however Sam came up with a pretty good idea using his sleeping bag liner as a full body condom to keep his Kindle reading sandfly free!

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Sam Lee, inventor of the full body condom sandfly prevention device.

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This guy was flying about with deer hanging from under him for most the day. Here is a photo of him with no deer…

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A short walk and another river crossing to the beach from the hut.

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Gum boot shoes. None of the advantages of gum boots. None of the advantage of shoes.

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Eyes peeled for penguins but to no avail! Deer antlers and cray pot clips were found in abundance though.

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Sat out on the beach for a while with a not so inconspicuous fire waiting for the penguins to come back from fishing. No luck.

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Cosy Stafford Hut, shelter from the sandflies!

The route we planned back along the coast is tide and swell dependent so we got up early again and set off. It was great to be out the jungle and rivers although the novelty of sand soon wore off. It would turn out we could have had a little more of a lie in as we got a 1/3 of the way up the coast and then had to wait for the tide to go out even more. After sitting for an hour the water dropped enough so we could get around some bluffs only getting wet up to out waist. This is definitely the closest I plan on getting my camera gear to salt water…..

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Lots of cool rock formations and some fairly technical bluffs to traverse. Probably made harder by us leaving early while the tide was fairly high.

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Some spectacular and empty beaches. Hard not to pretend you’re not in the Goonies!

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Looking down into Homminy Cove

The coastal route back was pretty spectacular and it was amazing to have such contrast compared to our route the day before.  After we got back to the car there was a well-earned trip to the Cray Pot for fish and chips. The trip was pretty spectacular but we did get lucky with the weather. The west coast of New Zealand has a reputation for a serious amount of rain and I am very glad we found a gap in the weather. Even if its dry though don’t expect to be doing this trip with dry feet!