• Penelope Haines

Port Pegasus - Day 4

Updated: Jul 23

It was a full-on day today. First, a hike up the mountain called Bald Cone. It’s a fairly imposing granite monolith, and I’d viewed it with trepidation when I realised yesterday that climbing it lay in my future.


They tendered us off the “Milford Wanderer” at 8.30am. Accessing the track involved an initial climb up the ladder to get us up the bank above the water. I have used the word ‘track’ rather loosely. It comprised a steep, muddy, slippery climb up through the bush that clung to the lower slopes. Heading up the slope, I couldn’t even imagine how we would make it down it again safely as I'm crap at going downhill!


Above the bush line we entered a land of scrappy, burnt out manuka, with fresh grasses growing between it. Apparently a fire three years ago burned this area out. I was grateful for the moribund manuka as at least we had something to cling to as we hauled ourselves up the trail. Our hiking poles were not just useless, they were an active impediment as they became caught in the scrub at regular intervals. Uneven ‘steps’ up meant tromping through thick mud and drawing up to the next level by clutching the manuka and scrabbling for purchase. About three quarters of the way up the manuka gave way to more open ground interspersed with large slabs of granite which we needed to cross. Unfortunately, the granite expanses were frequently covered in treacherous lichen. I saw several of our fellow passengers slip and fall traversing these.


It was one hell of a scramble, but eventually we made it to the top. The view was magnificent, and we agreed we were all glad to be there. Crazy, smooth, enormous boulders of granite balanced precariously on each other, blocked any chance of reaching the real summit. We were happy enough to be where we were!


Coming down was a nightmare—slippery, very steep and ankle breaking obstacles littered the track. At one point I slipped and fell. The fall was minor enough, just a slide on the mud which ended with me on my bum in wet sludge. Unfortunately, as I fell, my head encountered a manuka branch which pierced my forehead. No actual damage done, but like most head injuries it bled freely, covering my face and coat, and putting a pretty pink rinse through my hair.


Richard, our guide, patched me up with Elastoplast, and we continued on down. My legs were quivering with exhaustion by the time we reached the ladder at the bottom. Boots, trousers, socks and jackets were all covered in gooey, filthy mud!


However, an excellent lunch restored us, and we were ready to go kayaking in the afternoon. It was lovely to be out on the pristine, clear water. The “Milford Wanderer’ moored in a quiet cove and we could paddle around the little islets that scattered the bay. We discovered a blow hole! As the waves hit it, wind would filter through from an opening further round and utter a great “whoooing” noise.


I saw fish jumping and wondered what was beneath the surface of the bay, forcing them to do so. Other passengers who had elected not to kayak but toured the bay in the tender later told us they’d encountered two sea lions—which would explain the fish’s antics.


Finally, a trip in the tender to the bell-topper waterfall.


It was a busy day. I expect to sleep well tonight!