The idle tenor of life in the Sounds.
The morning is clear and sunny and rapidly becomes hot. Some of us are a little lobsterish after exposure to the sun out on the water yesterday.
The morning is spent lounging over tea, breakfast then coffees. iPads are in evidence. The New Zealand News is watched. If you go to Sky News it’s all Aussie. The Hobbit premier in Wellington is the big story. Odd how even a brief visit can make a place more real.
Eventually our Calvinist upbringing shames us into action. We decide on an expedition into the big city, Picton, to pick up some supplies. Driving on the winding roads is becoming second nature now. The views of the sound that we catch on the way over are stunning, all under an intense blue sky.
Picton is looking good. It’s central street is well kept and the ornamentally tiled pavements are very attractive. We wander down to the park on the sea front, previously undiscovered, and take a vegetable scone (!) and a very good ginger beer at one of the plesant cafes. We buy postcards, aloe vera for the sunburn and stamps. Then into the well-stocked supermarket. This is in a very small mall. The local teens were hanging out here the day we arrived. Looking cool and detached in such a restricted and obviously provincial space must be quite a challenge but they were doing their best.
Back for further snacks and serious application to lounging. In some cases we may have drifted off for a moment or two.
As the shadows grow on the surrounding headlands some high cloud appears and the breeze gets up. This seems to be a pattern in the Sounds. We decide on a further, marginally more athletic outing. Back up the Moetapu road to Linkwater. Then right off the Picton road to Anakiwa bay to pick up the start of the Queen Charlotte Track. This is a walk beside the sound of that name some 70km in length. It is reckoned to require three to four days to complete. There is a variety of accommodation on offer along the route. You are also required to obtain a DOC permit for the main walk. We are only going for an evening stroll which will not require a permit.
The track is wide and well maintained. The water is a beautiful rich green through the trees. The bush is delightfully cool for walking. There are some very large trees in here and the ubiquitous ponga ferns which still look alien to us. At one point we spot two birds on a nest in a tree. They look like penguins, but since one of them flies off they are clearly not that. Some sort of primitive looking duck, we guess.
We reach a small bay a couple of miles further along. A beautiful area of grass and shingle beach brightly lit by the evening sun. There is a tall wading bird in the water close by. Then we spot a brilliant flash of blue. A kingfisher. The NZ version, like the ones we saw in Oz, is bigger and less shy than the British one. We watch for quite a while as it flies around the mouth of a small stream.
Along the track we’ve seen two other couples. One consisted of a large, bearded American in sandles with an Chinese lady elegantly clad in a way that suggest a fashion-conscious gunslinger.
We take a final look at the whole route on a display map back at the starting point. It would be easily manageable, we think, but would require planning ahead with the accommodation which is how it’s usually done.
Dinner. What to do about it? This is the sort of pressing decision which makes life here so stressful. We opt for eating out in Havelock. The owner of the holiday home has recommended the beer-battered blue cod and chips at the ‘Slip Inn’. So dutifully we set out for the metropolis of Pelorus Sound.
The little town is very quiet when we arrive. Many boats are bobbing in the marina but people are scarce. Into the ‘Slip’. Modern and rather cosy with some competent but expensive paintings on the wall. We order from a cheerful local lass. Soon afterwards the meal arrives. Very good. Being one time devotees of the exquisite fish and chips of Scarborough and Whitby we are not easily overwhelmed by efforts in this field but this is a lot more than adequate. It is a generous portion served with a good salad.
We chat for a while with the waitress. She’s a volunteer firefighter and general emergency worker. A good citizen. The moon is full and upside down in the north as we leave. Jupiter is below it. There are some duplicatus clouds in the sky beside them. We wind our way back towards Linkwater and stop to get a few shots of the moonlit Pelorus Sound. Then back to the mountainous fastness which is Moetapu Bay.
The idle tenor of life in the Sounds.