Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
123Trip End Feb 27, 2006
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Where I stayed
I enjoyed a great nights sleep as I used the blankets from the other beds to keep me warm! After waking up at 8am, I had a quick stroll around the bay, but by 9.30am I was on my way again. It was a little difficult to leave the roaring fire in the pub, especially as there was a cool breeze outside, but I wanted to see what the walk to Punga Cove had to offer.
I immediately did a 60 minute detour to see another waterfall, and it turned out to be a bit of a scramble to say the least! The paths weren't very well defined, and I often found myself climbing over tree trunks, forcing myself through a web of vines, or walking down streams. Still, it was quite fun and I somehow managed to avoid falling over, although there were some close calls!
I was relieved to get back on the main track, and see the kind of scenery that was the main feature of the previous day. I passed lots of little waterfalls over the next 13km, all of them very pretty. There is something incredibly relaxing about waterfalls, and I spent a lot of time just sitting down next to them, listening to the sound of the water and the birds singing. A real feeling of contentment washes over you when you are in such idyllic, peaceful surroundings.
Once again, the weather was fine, although the scattered clouds and cool breeze meant that I kept all my layers on for the mostpart. This is an ideal time to walk the track, as there are no other people around to spoil the serenity - apart from Emmet briefly, I didn't see another soul all day.
At about 4pm, I reached the Mahana Lodge Homestead, which really does have to be seen to be believed. This place is pure heaven! I was immediately greeted by John, the friendly owner, who offered me chocolates and chatted away about the track. He asked if I had my own food, to which I replied no, and therefore he offered to cook me a dinner for $18 - I couldn't refuse, it sounded delicious!
We then went up to the place where I'd be staying, and I'll be honest, I was blown away by its beauty. The place was immaculate, and the view from the front window was spectacular - all this for $25. It got better - I was the only person staying there that night! John lit the log fire and told me how to keep it going, and he said he'd return at 6pm with my dinner.
In the meantime, I had a stroll along the pebble beach and looked out at the amazing views of Endeavour Inlet. In the BBH Guide to hostels in New Zealand, Mahana Lodge received a rating of 95% - the third best in the country! If any more proof of this was needed (it wasn't!), then my meal provided it, as John served up grilled chicken, mashed potato and salad, with home made chocolate cake, cream and kiwifruit for dessert - I was living like a king!
I spent the rest of the night relaxing in front of the fire, and generally just enjoying the quiet luxury of this faraway retreat. The next section of the track was 24km, or 8 hours walking, so I needed to recharge my batteries in preparation. Mahana Lodge succeeded in doing this for me, and I am convinced that I'll never stay in a better, more luxurious hostel than this one.