We took 6.5 hours each day (say 6 if not staying at Nydia Lodge). That included longish lunch hours and fairly relaxed walking. We left our car at Havelock - transport to the beginning of track and pick up the next day arranged by local YHA manager - reasonable rates we felt.
We left Havelock at 9.30am by water taxi. A short trip to the Shag Point Landing where we embarked - backwards down a ladder from the bow. The parting words from the skipper were to look out for pigs, and more particularly pig hunters! It was low tide so investigated the rocky foreshore before scrambling up the track to the road. Started walking at 10am. 3km (45minutes) of unsealed road to start of track proper at the head of Kaiuma Bay.
At start (farm land) had to cross small stream - wet feet! then quarter of an hour or so on a farm track - although it was well marked I felt as if we were going the wrong way until indicators to turn left up into bush. Suddenly felt we were tramping - good bush, lots of pongas and climbing, gently, but definitely climbing. I was surprised at the quality of the bush so close to farmland and when we broke out into a slight clearing with gorse on either side thought that would be it; was pleasantly surprised to find ourselves back in bush very quickly. Losing height just about as fast as we had gained it we headed inland enjoying the bird life, the exquisite bush, tree ferns, beech forest and occasional huge rimu. Crossed several small streams and entered a pine plantation, an area with extensive pig rooting and a stile over nothing! The skipper's last words were echoing as we looked furtively around but one dead although perfectly healthy looking piglet lying on the track was our only brush with wildlife. We were soon back in the native bush and climbing once more. Kaiuma Saddle - 1.30pm a great place for lunch.
Views of Nydia Bay on the way down, easy track but a bit slippery. Crossed farmland and another two streams before arriving at beach junction 3.45pm. Had a break there enjoying the beach then on to Lodge by 4.30pm. We had booked the Lodge with DOC before we left and found the facilities (apart from the generator) in good condition and all to ourselves. What a treat to have a hot shower - especially as we had been tempted to a quick dip in the bay from the jetty - a truly idyllic spot.
Next day left at 9am but mucked around a lot - checking out the Backpackers accomodation, playing with an eel and taking photos. First hour around the head of Nydia Bay, then into virgin bush and up to Nydia Saddle. Another great lunch spot. Most streams bridged on this section although we did cross some minimal but beautiful streams - looked like mountain streams - not Sounds; no wet feet. Downhill to Ngawhakawhiti Bay then a level walk round the coast to Duncan Bay. Views of the Bay thru the bush. Had some time spare so spent 20 mins or so at Pipi Beach - worth going to the end (if tide out) and looking up the Sounds, then 10 minutes or so to Duncan Bay - to await the bus. The bus arrives at 3.30pm we waited at the launching ramp but could have carried on to picnic area if we'd wanted to as he calls in there as well apparently. A one hour or less trip back to Havelock - incredible views at top of range. We were back dressed and ready for a feed of mussels in Havelock by 5pm!! could have driven back to the Picton Ferry if we'd planned to come home that day.
We felt it was a great two day trip, varied scenery, great bush, plentiful bird life, track in reasonable condition (brilliant actually compared with the Tararuas) well signed and good accommodation. There is the possibility of having gear transported to Nydia Bay if required.