For the first time in five and a half year’s I got away for the weekend and left Dan to run riot with the girls. They had a blast at Staglands and Harcourt Park in Upper Hutt on the Saturday, so much so that they fell asleep on the return – woke at 5.30pm – and then finally fell to sleep later that night past 10.30pm! They helped our next door neighbour put up her Christmas decorations and were so good for Dan.
Meanwhile, I returned to one of my many favourite places in New Zealand – the Marlborough Sounds. I have so many happy memories of this area. Dan and I walked the Queen Charlotte Track year’s ago and I’ve also walked it with my friend Lucy. Dan and I also spent a memorable time at The Portage with my folks soon after the birth of Charlotte.
But this time round it was just me and Lucy (who I met eight year’s ago whilst working for WWF, the conservation organisation). The photographs speak for themselves… (but I’ll natter on anyway!):
|Marlborough Sounds Dec 08|
We flew out Saturday morning on Sounds Air and returned late afternoon on Sunday. A mere two day’s away, but it felt like a week as we did so much! The short, twenty minute, flight across the Sounds was absolutely breath-taking with the most incredible views (though I was a little nervous!).
As soon as we arrived we boarded a water taxi, with the Cougar Line, out to Mistletoe Bay where we walked a small part of the Queen Charlotte Track over to Torea Bay (8 km). It was wonderful to have so much time to savour in the Sounds and we delighted in the native flora and fauna.
On Saturday evening we started early and had a blast and the most decadent meal at The Yacht Club (again, the photographs in the album reveal all – well mostly!). We were exhausted by 10pm and fell into such a deep sleep, waking Sunday morning feeling a little hungover, but raring to go out on the Sounds again. We set out on a water taxi again at 8.00am! So much for a lie in! I don’t think I could have slept much past that anyway – I’m so used to early starts and didn’t want to waste a moment of our time.
We were dropped off on DOC‘s wildlife reserve of Motuara Island, where Captain Cook proclaimed British sovereignty over the South Island, and our ears were greeted to the rich sound of bird call. I’ve put together a very poor video of our time on the island, but it was the only way to record the bird call and capture a little blue penguin in a nesting box (we didn’t want to take a photograph with a flash and it just wouldn’t have turned out well). The water in the Sounds is crystal clear and there was so much life. It is rich with shell-fish, dolphins, whales, fur seals and much more all there to explore and delight upon.
It always amazes me that New Zealand was once the home to only birds, bats, frogs and reptiles (and insects of course!). Lucy has had the good fortune of spending a night on Kapiti Island and she said the dawn chorus was absolutely deafening! But that over 1,000 year’s ago it would have been four-fold of what she heard. It’s so heartwarming to see the hard work of so many conservation organisations, volunteers and the Department of Conservation in turning the tide of species extinction. There are so many success stories, including the Saddleback (Tieke), which we were so fortunate to see on Motuara Island.
We journeyed onto Ship Cove. Captain Cook named the cove after anchoring his ship Endeavour there on 15 January 1770. He visited the cove five times and spent about 100 days there. It really is a stunning spot. This is also the starting point for the 71km Queen Charlotte Track and our memories of being greeted by Weka were once again restored. These gorgeous flightless birds came running up to us and would have kept us entertained for hours if time had allowed!
But we were away again, on a peacefully, long cruise through the delightful sounds, stopping at various bays and enjoying the scenery (and some giant sized blue cod, which gobbled up three loaves of bread in under 10 seconds!).
We were left with a couple of hours in Picton for lunch and retail therapy (some gorgeous artwork and crafts – but I’d spent up on the weekend away, alas). Then it was time to fly home. Seated just behind the pilot we got an incredible view and I must put together the video footage of the flight and landing – wow weeeeee! And of course my little darlings were hanging out at the airport to see me and ask, ‘What did you get me?!’. They had such a great time with Daddy they told me I could go away again, for longer! Right on! I’m going to book up some serious tramping for the New Year!
We offered Lucy a lift home, but she was quick to say she’d grab a cab (of course I knew she wanted to continue savouring the peace and tranquility of our magic weekend!). As for me, it was back to business! But we did stop off at Lyall Bay beach for a dip in the sea on the way home – eee, it’s a good life!