Big Bay adventure March 2017
For those who dare to join us….
Packraft, hike, surf, kite and so much more, through Fjordland and Mount Aspiring National Parks in the South Island of New Zealand.
End of february 2017 we will have a 5 week window for this epic adventure. We calculate one week to get to Big Bay, spending one week there and one week back out. Start can be anywhere from February 26th to March 10th.
Closest bigger airport is Queenstown. Departure will be from the end of the Lower Hollyford Road, 2h from Te Anau, which is another 2h from Queenstown. We will then have to cover the first part by foot on the Hollyford track, possibly carrying gear back and forth a couple of times. As soon as possible, we will change to packrafting down the Hollyford river towards Lake McKerrow.
After the lake, we should be able to packraft further down to Martin’s Bay, unless it is too windy. The last bit to Big Bay will be another back and forth gear shuffling.
Lower Hollyford Road – Martin’s Bay is 56km by foot. There are several basic huts along the way with toilets, bunk beds and stove. The rivers will be our shower and we will carry a stove to cook. At Martin’s Bay, there is a little airstrip and a Lodge, if anybody is keen on more comfort. We can find out about helicopter prices if necessary.
From Martin’s Bay it’s 16km (4-5h) by foot along the coast. If we are really lucky with the conditions, we might be able to packraft it? Otherwise most likely the usual gear back and forth.
We will set up our base camp for the week at the Big Bay hut and explore the area. Surf, Kite, Spearfish, collect mussels if the weather allows. Roam and explore the surroundings as we wish. Enjoying the Nowhere.
Once we have to head back to civilisation, we hike back inlands towards the Pyke River, which we can then packraft out, crossing Lake Wilmot and Lake Alabaster, before joining the junction with the Hollyford once more and hike back to the road end. Big Bay Hut to road end is 76km by foot.
We expect the worst and the best. Heavy rain for days on end and flooded rivers. Storms up to 40/50 knots. Stunning fjord land nature far away from civilisation. Pushing our limits with heavy gear. Hunting and fishing for food. Cooking on bonfires. Wet clothes and cold. River crossings. Dry rations and fresh lobster. Paddling against the wind. Glassy surf and stormy seas. No phone coverage (we will carry a PLB (personal locator beacon). Crayfish and sandflies (lots of them).
We will carry supplies for 3 weeks, hiking and camping gear, one surfboard, one kite, one 2person packraft.
These 2 videos show a bit of the place and the surf, although a very different type of adventure (fly in on forecast, surf, fly out), whereas for us the focus is rather on the journey to get there and back, and surf if we are lucky.
This is our provisional gear list:
Clothing and equipment
- Waterproof jacket and rain pants
- Wool, polypropylene, fleece layers; warm hat and gloves
- Strong hiking boots, gaiters
- Food – lightweight, fast cooking and high energy, with extra food in case of delays
- Water bottle & filter
- First aid kit, survival kit
- Sunglasses and sunhat
- Map and compass or GPS
- Personal Locator Beacon
For the huts and camping
- Gas cooking stove with fuel and matches/lighter
- Pot, plate, mug and eating utensils
- Sleeping bag
- Packraft, paddel, lifejacket, helmet
- Surfboard, wetsuit
- Kite, harness
- Fishing equipment
- Hunting equipment