Feb 22, 2003

Still working on all these updates, and I'm starting to get hungry, telling you about all this food!!!!  Sorry there are no more pictures from here on, as we downloaded all of our pics at Hugh and Sandy's house, so the rest remain offline.

Our next adventure was a combination kayak and tramping trip in the Marlborough Sounds and Queen Charlotte Track.  We'd booked it a few days before in Blenheim through the visitor information centre.  Our trip started in Picton where we met the company, transfered our kayaking, camping and tramping gear to their van, and then drove around 117 curves to a bay on the main sound.  (for those of you who remember the geography lesson, it is a true sound)  We loaded all our gear in and set off on our own in a double kayak, no guide.  Our plan was to cross the sound and take our time getting to Torea bay, the pick up point for the kayak at the end of the day.  Initially the seas were very calm in our little inlet, but the sea breeze started picking up, and by the end of it there were white caps on the water.  We ended up having to paddle very hard to cross some inlets. 

We had a little hiccup in the day when we discovered that our only loaf of bread was moldy.  Instead we had crudites with our cucumber, salami, cheese and tomatoes.  Luckily we had a bag of cookies, and some trail mix to keep us going to dinner.  One of the great things around New Zealand are marine reserves, areas that are set aside from fishing.  This means that not only the fish do well, but also the sea birds and other marine life.  We saw lots of shags, gulls, and ganets.  The ganets were fishing in the reserve.  They cruise around at about 25 metres, looking for fish; how they manage to see them from that height astounds me.   Once they've spotted their dinner they dip a wing, fold the middle joint of their wing, and start to spiral downwards.  They hit the water at a considerable speed, making a big splash, and resurface a few moments later.  It was very cool.  We reached our bay in good time, and took our time cruising the side of the bay out of the wind.  We spent a lot of time marveling at the rock, which was sandstone, but looked like wood.  We saw a seal, lots of shags, and some jelly fish.  We reached our pick up point and started unloading the kayaks.  A shag came swimming over to us as we were putting our stuff on the beach, curious as to what we were.  It came within a meter of me, and dove for my feet.  I got scared and jumped out of the water, which scared the poor shag who swam away and climbed up on the beach.  I guess my toes looked yummy to him.  Instead of swimming away from us, he sat and watched us unload the kayak for a while longer, at the same time drying his wings in the sun.  Another cool nature experience.  The second hiccup came when the water taxi refused to take our kayak back to Picton as was previously arranged, but a phone call on our mobile, and a second water taxi was there to take it away.  That left us with our packs and camping equipment and a 35 minute walk to the campsite.

We chose a site, set up our tent, and started to think about making dinner, when a dump truck came and unloaded a mound of dirt in a site two over from us.  This continued every 10 mins or so for about an hour.  Once we did start dinner, we were starved because we hadn't had any bread for the day.  The third hiccup came when we lost half our dehydrated potatoes onto the ground.    We went to bed at 8:30 because we were tired from our kayaking, and we knew we had to get up early to make our water taxi appointment the next day.  Another hiccup was that Bob's watch stopped working, so we didn't have an alarm clock to wake up to.  Our sleep was interupted twice, once by two germans who arrived well after nightfall and set up their tent, and a second time by possums fighting outside our tent.  At 6:15 am the cicadas started chirping, so we woke up to a natural alarm clock.  We took down our camp and headed off. 

The Queen Charlotte Track is one of the famous ones here.  It is over 70 kms long in total, and we walked the last two sections that day.  The first part was up and down, starting at see level, rising to 400m. descending again, and up again to over 400m.  This section took us about 3hrs.  Our packs were slowing us down, they were heavier that we were used to carrying because we had all our camping gear as well.  We pushed on to the next section, stopped for our crudite lunch, and really started to get tired 6 hrs after leaving our campsite.  By the end of the walk over 8 hrs after setting off, neither of us were having a good time.  I fell and scaped my knee.  We emerged from the track only to find the pick up point was a further 1.5 km away.  This was the worst part of the walk.  We just wanted to be finished.  We managed to get on the water taxi with only 15 minutes to spare!  I don't feel the need to do that tramp again.

We headed back to Blenheim for one more night with the rellies, and woke up at 3:30 am to catch the 5:30 am ferry to Wellington.  It was sad to leave the south island, knowing it will be a long time before we get back there. The ferry ride was uneventful, I tried to sleep, and probably got about 45 minutes.  Bob watched 8 Mile in the onboard cinema. 


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