New zealand 2001 (part 3)
I LOVE IT HERE AND NEVER WANT TO LEAVE!!!!!!!!!!!
And I think I found a job!!
"Wanted Head Shepard. We are looking for an experienced Head Shepard to join our team on our 1478ha Eastern Southland property, 17 km south east of Gove. We are currently running 13,500 SU consisting of both sheep and cattle. The successful applicant will be responsible to the Stock manager and will have one or two staff working under them. Two or three good dogs
are essential. Good accommodation provided, both married and single."
With the exception of the team of dogs, I think I'm a shoe in!
Okay, last time we left our carefree and happy hero, he had dropped off the car in Wellington. Wellington was good. Very good. The first thing I did was go to a pub to watch some of the 7s. The town was just awash in rugby fans and boy can they party. Just not pretty. Team USA did pretty well and managed to beat Fiji and Australia I think. The big story was Fiji vs. NZ. There was this whole "crisis" about letting the Fiji team come to NZ to play since there was a coup in Fiji and NZ has restrictions on them. Then Fiji beats NZ in the semi finals of the 7s tournament. Now NZ was sucking since they had lost three of their big players to injuries earlier in the series
and the kiwis were not happy. Thankfully, the Aussies came around and beat the Fiji teams. It was quite exciting. My other big thing in Wellington was the museum there called "Te Papa". Wow. It easily beats our Smithsonian. It's a huge state of the art museum right on the waterfront in Wellington. A lot of the museum is dedicated to natural history of NZ. From its breakaway from the super continent, Gondwanaland, to all the volcanoes to the very rich and diverse animal and plant life here in NZ. I spent over 5 hours there just wandering around. Just amazing.
On Sunday, I got up early and boarded the ferry to the South Island. The ferry was packed but the crossing was good. It was a bit overcast, but as we entered in the Marlborough Sounds it was just amazing. The scenery was just fantastic and we passed a small pod of dolphins as well. I got to Picton early than expected which meant I could reconfirm my plans to hike the Queen Charlotte Trail. The next morning I was on the pier at 830 to catch the water taxi out to Ship's Cove. It was still a bit overcast, but dry and warm, good hiking wweather. It took about an hour by boat to get to Ships' Cove. Ships' Cove is named that because Capt Cook came there 7 times during his explorations of NZ to replenish his supplies as well as to clean the hulls of his ship. It's a very picturesque little cove with a small rock/pebble beach and just filled with trees. The hike was okay. I say okay because it was all UPHILL!!! Hello I need to warm up first! My calves were killing me after 30 minutes of straight uphill. But when I crested the ridge and there was a little overlook it was all worth it. It was just amazingly pretty. I walked up and down the different ridges through some pretty dense groves of beech trees and some other unique kiwi trees. Just awesome. With the cloud cover, it wasn't too hot, though I was completely sweating through my T-shirt. The walk from Ship's Cove to Resolution Bay was about 2 hours. I stopped there to have the lunch I had brought and just relax a bit. Then it was on to Endeavor Inlet, which is where I was going to stay for the night. The next section of the trail was about 4 hours long. Again the hike was great though I was starting to feel my backpack. One of the really weird things was the sound in the forest. There must have been a trillion insects along the trail and they were making such a racket that I couldn't here anything else. I kept thinking I was in a bad B-movie and that the swarm of insects was going to come and get me! It turns out that they were cicadas. Noisy little buggers. I arrived at Furnaeux Lodge around 330ish to find out that they really didn't have a room for me; I was going to be staying in the Backpacker's lodge. Again, not my thing, but I dealt. The funny thing is that around 5 it started to rain and a whole bunch of young kiwi's who were out camping crashed the lodge to play cards and drink. Sounds like a plan to me. So I played some really weird bidding game called 500, and drank lots of cheap wine. It was a pretty good evening.
The next day I was up early and started off on the trail again. The sun was out and it was just GORGEOUS!! The water was like eight shades of blue, the forest so green. Just wonderful. The hike this day only lasted about 4 hours. But I was petty worn out by the time I made Punga Cove. So I treated myself to a nice a lunch at the restaurant at the resort there. The resort was NICE. Someplace where you can just get away from it all. After a nice lunch and a beer, I went down to the waterfront and laid down on the grass and just soaked up the sun. It got so hot that I decided to jump in the water. OH MY GOD IT WAS COLD! I think I went numb immediately. I was in and out of that water in about 5 seconds flat. Drying in the sun felt good though. The water taxi came around 4 and I was back in Picton by 515ish, picked up the rental car, picked up my duffel bag which I had left at the hotel I had stayed at Sunday night, and then I was off to Motueka.
It's a two + hour drive to Motueka and I was tired by the time I got there. I grabbed a bit to eat and then I went back to my room to figure out what to pack for the sea-kayaking trip. Up early the next AM, I drove to Marahua which is where the base camp is for Ocean Rivers, the tour company I am booked with. There are only 4 people on the trip. Richard, a Canadian from Nova Scotia, and a Japanese couple, Sushito and Mika. Our guides were Julie and Kelly. The first thing I do is unpack the backpack I had carefully packed the night before and shove all of my stuff into plastic bags and then into the forward compartment of the kayak. Oh, also in this little compartment goes the sleeping bag and air mattress that they are loaning me. It's quite a battle to shove everything in there, but I made it. After getting fitted out in our skirt (it's a little hoop think you wear that forms a semi-waterproof seal between you and the kayak when you sit in the cockpit) and life jackets, it's time to lift the kayaks (which takes all of us to life one!) and then board the van for the 2 1/2 hour ride to our launching point. Apparently there are 365 curves enroute from Marahua to Totarnui. There's nothing like being in the back of a hot van on a windy road. I was miserable! But we made it to Totaranui around 1230 and then we stopped to have lunch. The trip is fully catered and the guides cook the meals. Lunch is sandwiches with brie, ham, turkey, salad and fresh fruit. After lunch, we launch. I'm in the front seat, and Richard is in the backseat, and that's where the rudder control is. Have I mentioned that Richard is into sea kayaking? There's nothing like a little back seat driving while you are paddling for hours. Okay, it wasn't that bad. But it was a bit annoying. The plan is to head south along the coast of the Abel Tasman National Park. The water is not too bad and I am paddling 100 strokes and then resting (I AM NOT ANAL!). I don't want to burn out and I want to avoid blisters if possible. Sushito and Mika are not doing well, so our guides hang with them and Richard and I go on head and explore the coast a bit. As we are paddling along, just off my port bow (that's myforward left for all of you non Navy types, which I guess includes me now also!) a dolphin surfaces and then dives back underneath our kayak. There are actually two dolphins there and we stop in amazement to watch, but they swim out of sight pretty quickly. Needless to say, we are psyched! Then we paddle into Shag's Harbor. It's just amazing. It's a little harbor that has several small islands or rock outposts at its entrance that you have to paddle between. Once inside, the walls of the harbor are rock wwalls that extend at least 10 feet straight up before there is grass and trees. So cool. Afterwards we continue down the coast to Tonga Quarry Beach. It's a little cove that we basically have to ourselves and it is BEAUTIFUL!!! We run the kayaks onto the beach and then set up our camp. Tents are provided and are very easy to set up. Julie and Kelly have put beers in the fridge (a VERY cold stream nearby) so after we have set up camp, we go sit on the beach and drink a cold one. Can I tell you how much this doesn't suck? The wweather by the way is awesome. Warm, a light breeze, the turquoise blue surf is gently crashing onto the caramel colored sandy beach. Life is good. We hang out for a bit while Julie and Kelly cook dinner. Pasta with chicken and vegetables in a pink sauce. And we have both red and white wine and fruit salad for dessert. It's very nice. We do have to do the dishes, but that's a small price to pay for the fabulous day we had. Oh, during dinner, one of the few people at this beach (I'd say there were 5 other people on the beach) comes up to see if he could buy some red wine from us. Hello, it's Valentine's Day and I guess he forgot his wine. We gave him what's left of ours. NNow I must say that it must be love if you can convince your sig-o to hike for a good 6-8 hours and then camp overnight on Valentine’s Day. Though the beach was pretty romantic. I crash early as I am tired. I wake up in the middle of the night and I look out to see the stars and the lights are so bright and it's just so cool to look up and see all these stars.
Up early the next day and as we are pulling down the tent and breaking camp, french toast and canadian bacon are on the griddle. Not to shabby! We launch around 930 and head south again along the coast. We circle the Tonga Island Seal Colony seeing a bunch of seals. We can't get too close due to park regulations. Then we continue along the coast till we get to Sandfly Harbor. Here, we paddle up this stream that is flowing out from the side of the beach. We actually have to get out and pull our kayaks a bit up this stream that has carved a channel in the sand. There is a lagoon behind this beach and at low tide, the water rushes out and forms this stream we are in. It's just too cool. Once we get into the lagoon proper, we get back into the kayaks and explore the lagoon a bit. We stop for lunch here. Then it's back on the water. The sun is out, there is a light breeze, and the waves are almost non-existent. We are talking perfect sea kayaking wweather. Just too awesome. We hug the coast checking out the rugged and rocky coastline interspersed with picturesque little sandy beaches. We head into our campsite for the evening at a place called Anchorage. It's another great little beach, but it's not so private. A lot of day-trippers come here as well as hikers. But it's still awesome. We set up camp taking time afterwards to sip a cold one on the beach. You really do need to stop and smell the roses sometimes! Dinner was steak with a rice mixture. Very good. Dessert included a cake with sherry and custard. We had an excellent Merlot with dinner and we were pretty trashed by the time we went to sleep.
The next day, it was a bit overcast and actually started to spit rain as we ate our pancakes. So we were on the water early and paddled out to Adele's Island where we saw all sorts of birds and a few seals, and then over to Fisherman's Island. It was just magical. We pulled up onto a small beach on Fisherman's Island for lunch and a swim. The weather was only fair, warm but a bit overcast. But it was an excellent day for paddling and I don't think I got too burned. We reached Marahua around 230 and then loaded to kayaks onto a trailer and then headed back to base camp. I bee-lined back to my motel for a truly desired hot shower. It felt sooo good.