Route Outline: North West Circuit
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Generally walked as part of a circuit including parts of the Rakiura Track from Halfmoon Bay and return, the North West Circuit can also be combined with the Southern Circuit.
Boat transport is available to parts of the track on Paterson Inlet and the eastern coast, while a float plane services Mason Bay.
Never far from the coastline, the North West Circuit describes an arc about the northern granite landscape of Stewart Island. The low altitude of the track and the mild climate of the island make this a good winter choice, although the track may be muddier and the days are short. Brown kiwi may be spotted commonly amongst the spectacular sand dunes of Mason Bay. The Stewart Island subspecies is distinguished by its habit of appearing during the day. Many walkers on the Rakiura Track cross to Mason Bay just to spot kiwi. From the bay, the track turns inland over a particularly muddy section, crossing swamp surrounding the Freshwater River and linking up with the Rakiura Track. Side trips lead onto Mount Anglem (980m, the highest point on the island) and Rocky Mountain (549m).
nzfella Where does one start with a marathon like this? Firstly we cheated due to time constaints. We chartered a flight to Masons Bay and walked in reverse to the norm back to Halfmoon Bay. Masons Bay is a very pleasant spot with lots of sand dunes, and lots of evidence of kiwi, but alas no physical sightings by us (we spoke to others who did see kiwi there). We stayed at Masons Bay and walked to Helfire on day two. The walk from Masons to Helfire is reasonably demanding with no shortage of mud. There were good views and really good beaches to walk on, but the hills were challenging. Day three to East Ruggedy was another day of hill, mud and beaches, but with the added challenge of wlking up a sand dune that was far from firm. This was the straw that broke the camels back for me as ther was no water in the streams to drink from and it was a really hot day and I had consumed al 3 litres of my water and had to walk the last hour and a bit with no water in intense heat. BUT never fear one of our party had some Replace and that helped me bounce right back.Day four to Long Harry was a short day, but far from easy. I have never seen so many steep ups and downs. You must stop at Long Harry the night to meet Harry the kiwi. He is a almost tame kiwi that is not distracted from his business by the presnce of people. We were told that he would come out between 9pm and 11pm, but we gave up early and went to bed. BUT we were up at 7am getting breakfast ready beside the water tank and Harry came bouncing out of the bush looked up at us and poked around no further than a metre from us for several minutes then toddled off past the hut into other bush (awesome). Also there is a great beach (albeit awkward access) with great swimming. Day five to Yankee River. By now one mud hole looks much like the next mud hole. I have never seenso many bl...y steep hills. Don't get me wrong you still have to do it. What I am trying to say is don't under estimate the difficulty of walking for 7 to 12 days wit food for that many days and tents and sleeping mats etc. Back to the story..... Yankee River is a realy nice setting and a nice hut (my second most favourite). Day six to Christmas Village. The days are getting easier (less weight and not so steep), but one mud hole still loks much the same as the next mud hole. Day seven to Bungaree (my personal favourite). Bungaree has a great setting and the walk was nowhere nearly as bad as what we had been through. The weather is turning bad on us now, but we have been lucky. Day eight out to Halfmoon Bay. In summary a realy great tramp that is very demanding, and requires a reasonable level of fitness. Great scenery, lovely beaches with good swimming, and a great way to get really fit. Don't be put off by all the mud, and don't waste time and energy trying to avoid the mud as you will probablly finish up right in the mud in doing so. We were able to bath in rivers, under water falls, and in the sea. Absolute tranquility. Rod
18 March 2002