The last week of August found us with mixed feelings about leaving the house we’d been staying in. The house ended up being just what we needed in giving us space to enjoy the break from traveling to new destinations weekly. During this last week though we were also feeling the pull to make sure we did all the things we intended to do in the Picton area. During our remaining days we did two more of the walks around town. The first was Tirohanga hill
The trail up this hill was steep in places and muddy in places and often both in the same places. Wattle trees could be found all along the trail and it was fascinating to see the foliage and flowers up close. It’s like they’re covered with thousands of tiny yellow pompoms and tis the time of year for them to shake their thing and cheer on the coming of spring. Evidently we found the source of the clouds of pollen we’d seen floating across the hills and the fine dust that had settled over our car.
The view from the hilltop was rewarding. From the vantage point on top you could see nearly all of Picton, the snout and both marinas. We found it pretty remarkable standing on the hill we’d been looking up at for so many days while hanging out at the marina. As it turned out, we noticed at the top a sign indicating the track made a loop and came back into town on the opposite side of town. We decided to descend on a different trail than we climbed. To our surprise at the bottom we crossed a small pedestrian bridge over a stream to find a sign on the other side saying “Picton across stepping stones” we followed the arrow on this sign to a much bigger creek flowing over a gravel road with a string of precarious stepping stones. “Hmmm,” I thought “how am I going to manage this without getting wet?” Next thing I know another hiker appears at the edge of the stream and begins removing his boots and offers to help us across. I was very grateful for the helping hand of Ben, the friendly German gentleman, as that is how I made it across without getting wet.
We hadn’t had enough walking for the day so we continued across town back to the marina for a walk to Bob’s Bay. We were sidetracked in our journey across town by The Bakerij for a “donut” break. This bakery is a tiny little place with multiple pastry cabinets lining the whole length, all stuffed full of the most decadent selection of baked goods. They were all baked fresh and the selection changed daily–(We know this not because we went every day, but because they told us so. Honest.)
From there it was back to Shelley beach at the marina to pick up the trail to Bob’s bay. This turned out to be a fantastic little walk along the edge of the hillside overlooking the sounds. Once on the beach at Bob’s Bay we had the place to ourselves and it was a lovely little beach with so many interesting seashells. We sat for a spell, soaking up the scenery and sunshine. Then we heard it, that low rumbling of a huge motor approaching. As we looked up the sight quite nearly took our breath away, there was one of the enormous ferry boats coming into sight through the channel to the dock. These boats look big when you’re standing all the way across the marina, it’s a whole different scene when you’re standing at the edge of the water as it charges past, dwarfing us with its shadow.
Now that it’s been 4 weeks though we feel ready to move on and carry on seeing new and different places. We celebrated our anniversary and Paul celebrated a Birthday during these last two weeks. Typically we would celebrate with family and we both felt a surge of homesickness in not being able to do so. Receiving flowers and a gift basket made us feel special.
Instead of dinner with family, we invited our friends from Blenheim to join us for dinner. Driving back into Blenheim gave us the opportunity to catch up on a few things that we’ve been meaning to get done. Zed got some TLC at a local garage, oil change, tire rotation and such. Meanwhile I got some TLC at the hair salon from a fantastic stylist named Paul. After stocking up on some items from the “bulk” grocer we had a little time to spare before dinner.
We had time to fit in the walk we’d intended to take in Wither Hills, a place we’d enjoyed in Feb. The hills are much greener this time of year. The sun was nearly done shining for the day which only gave us time to do a short jaunt to the top of one of the hills. As the sun set we watched the moon rise and the city lights come to life in the valley.
The day before we left Picton the sun was out and it was the warmest day we’ve seen so far and the most lively we’ve seen the marina. Seals were there again frolicking and the yacht club had a sailing event going on with eye catching bright colored sail boats making the scene even more vivid.
Spring is now obviously in the air. More and more plants are starting to bloom. This was our opportunity to get back out on the water and see a bit more of the Marlborough sounds. After a lengthy session of hacky sack at the marina, we inquired at a couple different tour companies about doing a lunch cruise. Lochmara, one of the more popular destinations for lunch happened to be closed so we opted for another cruise to the bay of many coves to have lunch at the fancy resort located there. The boat was far from full with passengers and as it turned out we were the only couple going to the restaurant. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Warm and sunny with the deck and the owner/waiter entirely to ourselves. He was more than happy to chat with us and answer our questions about the area, the birds etc.
The clouds and wind began moving in just before we were expecting the boat to return to pick us up. You could sense a bit of urgency from the captain to get us back to Picton before the storm really gained momentum. Several more passengers had boarded the boat while we were eating so it was full on the return trip. We could not have imagined a better way to spend the last day here. Monday morning we cleaned the house and packed the car. My how easy it is to grow into a space. We were legitimately concerned that all the groceries and kitchenware would not fit in the car, though in the end we did manage to squeeze it all in. Off we went, westward through the hills to Nelson, which we discovered was a much bigger city than we remembered seeing in February. We simply passed through this time, as we are scheduled to stay in Nelson for a couple weeks when come back through the area on our return journey to the Marlborough region.
We arrived earlier than expected in Motueka pronounced (Mot like pot, yew, ay cuh) and upon contacting our host decided we would drive on a bit further west to see some the route to Abel Tasman national park. The road from here to there is narrow and winding, like so many others we’ve been on in this country. The clouds were again hanging low so the views were not as spectacular as I’m sure they are on a sunny day. We discovered Sandy bay, a vast expanse of wet sand with boats that looked abandoned.
It was blatantly obvious that the tide was out. Our curiosity drove us to the internet once again and Paul looked up the tidal charts.
The tide here varies considerably more than we have observed anywhere else we have been. The difference between high and low tide for that day was about 4 1/2 meters (about 14 feet for those not familiar with metric. WOW, that realization certainly made us want to come back and see the same location at high tide, which is exactly what we did the next day, in the rain. The weather prohibited us seeing very far in the distance but having arrived back at Sandy bay about an hour after the peak of high tide we found clear evidence where the ocean had washed across the road and into some of the parking areas. An incredibly
impressive sight for a couple unfamiliar with life near the ocean.
We did find out later that the tide was particularly high coupled with winds that were blowing the waves directly on to the shoreline all along the northern coast. This resulted in many areas of beach washed away and piles of debris along the shore with some strewn across the roads and this apparently is not a common occurrence.
The rain was such that we were not keen on the idea of walking very far, so we drove a bit further to explore a few other sights before heading back to the house we’re sharing with a kiwi couple. This place is our first “shared accommodation” We’re sharing a house with the homeowners and a young Frenchman who is currently working for them. It has taken a bit of adjustment in our mindset, but after a couple days, everyone seems pretty relaxed. The friendly and generous nature of the people here lends to the success of situations like this. It has been great to have company to interact with daily.
We found our way to some other short walks near here. Takaka hill and Harwoods hole were suggested as must see places. Off we went intending to do both one day. About half way up the 11km narrow, winding gravel road to Harwoods hole we turned Zed around as the snow was intimidating from the view seated behind the hood or “bonnet” as it is called here, of our little 2 WD Camry. Next stop, Takaka hill. The map at the walkway indicated it was about 30 min to the lookout to Golden Bay. Prepared with layers of clothing and our raincoats we did not let the threatening clouds deter us. After several minutes walking up a sort of steep and muddy path through a cattle pasture we arrived at a 4WD road which we followed up to the top of the hill.
Just as we were approaching the top, I heard something unusual, a buzzing that seemed close to the trail. Fortunately, the sound was unusual enough to cause me to pause, at which point I saw a cable laying across the trail with two areas of blackened ground. Then, I heard it again and my gaze followed the sound along the cable to where it was resting on a rock and sparking. It was then I looked up and realized the cable was actually an overhead power line that had fallen. This was enough to make Paul and I turn around for the second time that day, short of reaching our goal. It just so happened that along with the power lines there were radio towers on top of the hill too so Paul had cell service and was able to call our hosts who in turn called in to report the fallen line.
So far in our new accommodation I have found it rewarding and enjoyable to cook a few meals for everyone. Plus it gives us the chance to enjoy a bit more variety because there’s not nearly as many leftovers. It’s early spring and if saying it would bring warmer weather, it would already be much more comfortable, but the seasons are not listening to the muttering of us mere humans and this week’s forecast shows more cooler weather in store.
I have one last note. I have discovered error in some of my previous posts. I referred to the trademark grass of New Zealand as ToiToi and this should be spelled ToeToe. The second is in reference to the birds that we observed diving for fish. I spelled the name as Gannon and it’s actually a Gannet. (Admittedly, this is because I lacked a keen ear for the fast talking kiwi captain and after asking what the birds were twice I thought I heard him correctly but did not verify the information by asking for the spelling) My apologies if these errors were misleading.