Heaphy Track Day #1: Man Eating Snails

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Start Time: 10am
Arrived at Perry Saddle Hut at 5pm
Distance: 17.5 kilometers (10.9 miles)
Weather: Overcast

Katharina, Cornelius and I left Motueka early in the morning to drive past Collingwood and commence our four day tramp on the Heaphy Tack in the Kahurangi National Park. It didn’t take long to find an adventure as we literally had to drive through a river to reach the start of our first NZ Great Walk.

I personally didn’t find the day one scenery overly impressive as we spent the entire day hiking through a rainforest with minimal scenic overlooks. We climbed what turned out to be a very gentle incline to reach the highest point on the track at Flanagans Corner, an altitude of 915 meters or just over 3,000 feet. By this time, we were so high up that we were literally in the clouds and our views were completely fogged over.

We did however see snail crossing signs which more than piqued my interest. The nocturnal carnivorous Powelliphanta snail is native to the area and comes out on damp nights. I made a joke to Liz at Eden’s Edge before we left that if we ran out of emergency food, I would just go slug hunting and fry up a few for dinner, but seeing as this the world’s largest snail is on the endangered list, this was not a feasible (or legal?) option for us. Unfortunately, we didn’t even spot one during our journey.

It was very informal at the Perry Saddle Hut. There were no DOC (Department of Conservation) rangers to check us in, so we just signed the intentions book to account for our safe arrival. This was mildly inconvenient however, as the gas had run out for the burners. But being the resourceful trampers we were, our hut group started a fire in the stove heater and we boiled water old school style. We made homemade cards and played by head lamps to finish off a very successful day one!

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