The trip to Supper Cove is a side trip taking two days – but really worth it! The walk up/down from Loch Marie to Supper Cove takes me 7-8 hours. I know you may be younger and in more of a hurry – who know why? Most of the distance is very pleasant, flat walking along a river/lake. There are two exceptions: the hour you have to spend climbing around the giant slip which created Loch Marie until after the Bishop Burn (which is not too bad actually), and the last hour if you cannot cross Supper Cove at low tide before you reach the Supper Cove Hut. It is one of the nastiest tree/rock hopping bits on the whole track, seeming doubly worse as it comes at the end of a long day. Many folks have turned their knee or ankle on this section (including me), so leave early enough you are not hurrying at the end of the day when you are tired.
Supper Cove itself is one of the pleasantest spots on earth, and you should plan to spend a few days there. It has likely got the very best toilet view in the world too! You might be able to prearrange (as I sometimes have) a helicopter or the float plane to leave some supplies tied up in a bag in the rafters of the boat shed so you can extend your stay. You will be able to have fresh fish three times a day if you have a hand line, some sinkers and hooks – or you may be lucky enough to find some there that the DOC has not confiscated. You should plan on this and have some oil/Alfoil (and a little salt to taste) to cook the fish with. The Blue Cod particularly, easily caught in the deeper water off the rocks behind the hut are perhaps the best eating fish in the world. Maybe include a cheap frying pan in that bag.
In 2009 I paddled this section with my Alpacka ‘Fiord Explorer’. I am not going to do so again!
There it is on the shores of Loch Marie! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/
I even paddled across the lake itself though I can’t imagine why now.
First the track follows the old miner’s track along the edge of the lake. A few rocks, but easy going.
The loch is beautiful in the dawn.
Everywhere there is the beauty of water moving.
My son Bryn crossing the first walk wire in 2008.
Some beautiful views of the lake through the ancient trees.
Sometimes when the lake is very low it is easier to walk along the edge of the lake. Look out fro moose tracks in the soft mud and sand. Such tracks have often been seen here.
At one point as you climb around the slip listening to the roar of the water as it crashes over the giant boulders and wondering that trout can find their way past it, you will come upon the remains of the iron tools C19th miners used to make this section of the track. What hardships they must have endured.
Lots of places DOC have put in new steel or wooden bridges (even a new walk wire) since I first walked it nearly twenty years ago. It certainly cuts out some difficult scrambling up and down.
Eventually you meet up with the Seaforth River again below the Bishop- Burn. This must be about where I put in on my raft trip in 2009. There are many beautiful river vistas ahead.
Mind you there were some rapids to avoid!
Real ‘Huck Finn’ stuff this.
The Old Supper Cove Hut site. Just before you leave/join the river you will see (if you look carefully) the remains of the old hut. Right in the centre of the photo you can just make out the parallel lines of the tree fern trunks which formed its floor. It was the last point you could get to by boat. It would have been a useful shelter if the river and particularly the Henry Burn swamps were flooded. It would have been a cold, wet camp to have lived in whilst you were building the track in the C19th though!
My son Bryn demonstrating just how swampy it gets between the two arms of the Henry Burn in 2008.
My daughter Irralee crossing the ‘Waterfall Burn’ in 2007.
The Waterfall Burn. There is a 160 metre waterfall at the top of this unnamed stream. You can climb up with difficulty by following the next gully (ie on the true right down Fiord). in 2000 the top of this higher waterfall was shrouded in mist and it appear4ed to simply fall from the clouds. It was pouring with rain and photography was impossible/disappointing. There was fresh moose sign (tracks/droppings) up this burn then too.
Easy walking, as you can see. If the tide is not so full you can still cut off a fair bit of nasty stuff. The track is usually not far from the shore (after crossing) the first ridge. If you are looking across the Cove facing the hut you will see some white rocks on the other side. if you aim for the right hand end of those rocks, you might still see a taped trail leading up to the main track when you get near. This is the view looking from the hut side towards the ‘Waterfall Burn’ side. The low tide at Supper Cove is approximately 2 1/2 hours earlier than Port Craig (so, if Port Craig’s low was at 1:30 pm for example (as it was on 21/04/2017), Supper Cove’s was at approximately 11:00 am.. You can check the tide info at the Met Service NZ before you start on the track to see whether you will be able to cross Supper Cove.
If the tide is fully low you can walk all the way across the cove. You can just walk out past the boat shed and helipad, cross the Hilda Burn, then head straight across the Supper Cove flats. Only ‘thermometer deep’ as you can see Bryn crossing in 2008.
This is the first view of Supper Cove looking towards the hut (unfortunately at high tide). The hut (invisible) would be almost exactly centre. See the white rocks on the shore opposite. You would aim just to the right of them if you were walking across at a lowish tide, then walk up (approx 50-100 metres to the true left bank of the Hilda Burn) to intersect with the track. I did mark the low tide trail in 2014 with tape and a buoy hung from a tree on the shore. You might still spot them.
First view of the hut from the air (with Della 2011: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/10-days-in-fiordland/)
My daughter Irralee crossing the Hilda Burn 2009.
Arriving at the Supper Cove Hut.
This is the beautiful view from the verandah looking up the Seaforth. The moose were released on that sandbar (centre) in 1905. Many delights await at Supper Cove.
Such as fishing off the rocks for blue cod: my son Bryn demonstrates.
A Hummingbird hammock comes in handy at Supper Cove 2017: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-hummingbird-in-the-hand/
It is becoming a busy switch over point for tour boat operators.
About 100 metres behind the Supper Cove Hut there are the remains of another ‘mystery’ hut guarded by a fantail. You can continue up that ridge (past the cataract) and drop down into the Hilda Burn upstream (if you are intrepid/foolhardy). Just after where the Burn splits in two I glimpsed a cow moose in 2000.