Before we left Wellington Loren and I crammed in several last minute sightseeing and visiting activities, including taking in an outstanding Vietnamese acrobatic show in a lovely old theater, a King’s Singers and Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir performance in an ultra modern concert hall, a last Bikram Yoga class, lunch with another delightful yogi, touring TePapa – Maori for Our Place which is the National Museum of New Zealand, and, walking around Waitangi Park and the wharf.
My last reflecting on Wellington includes how most retail and other businesses regularly close during the mid- to late- afternoon, harkening to earlier times in my life in New York where stores were only open late on Thursday evenings. Here even Thursday evenings retailers close up shop, leading me to believe that workers and residents enjoy a better quality of life with having their evenings free. Last, two more language anomalies between US and Commonwealth English is, how do you say Quay? Loren and I would say Kway, but I hear New Zealanders pronouncing it Key, and, while we would say trash or garbage in the US, here they refer to it as rubbish.
Loren and I were up early for our ferry across Cook Straight to the South Island. We were fortunate with the calmness of the sea on this particular day, and especially, as there had been another cyclone warning, meaning that the ferry actually could have been canceled. Luckily that storm had veered off away from New Zealand entirely. In the terminal waiting room we struck up a friendly exchange with a couple from Auckland. We then sat together on board and our enjoyable conversing lasted through the three and a half hour crossing.
Loren and I picked up our rental car and stopped on our way to Marlborough Sounds to have a delightful hike on part of Queen Charlotte’s Track. We stayed in Mahau – meaning Sheltered, Sound, among the Marlboroughs. As advertised, their sunsets can be breathtaking.
The next day when we were about to borrow our hosts’ kayaks, an unexpected strong wind picked up causing whitecaps. We were strongly recommended to forego kayaking and instead hike to Mistletoe Bay. We started uphill to the summit lookout but soon decided to take the less traveled cutoff trail to the bay. Along this trail there was an interesting bird call, which to me sounded like when I run a paper towel dampened by window cleaner back and forth across glass. This bird seemed happy to allow me to take a photo! We then hiked the Loop track and returned to our car via another portion of Queen Charlotte’s Track. In the end hiking was the right decision, as the wind never abated all that day.
Again we were up quite early to catch our AquaTaxi from Marahau/Kaiteriteri to Bark Bay in the Abel Tasman National Park. Before our drop-off, our taxi boat took us by the most photographed rock in the area – Split Apple Rock. Once dropped off at Bark Bay, we hiked along the wilderness trail with periodic breathtaking views of the coast. We had been advised by our Godson to not backpack here for the black flies, as they are worse than deer flies. It turned out that again we were lucky in that we were not at all disturbed by flies on our day hike here.
On our way from Bark Bay to Anchorage Hut, we passed through Torrent Bay. We knew that if the tide was low we could take the shortcut across the open beach, then detour off track to Cleopatras Pool with a natural rock water slide.
However, we were unaware that the shortcut included fording more than a few rivulets of mountain runoff that join the Tasman Sea, some deeper than others. In trying to keep his boots and socks wet – in hindsight, why we did not just take our boots off I do not know, Loren twisted just the wrong way to injure a glut. So, hiking to Cleopatra’s Pool was out of the question, and Loren was unable to enjoy as much our overnight on Aquapackers at Anchorage Bay with our wonderful hosts,
and a delightful group of fellow travelers. We also had to give up our plan to hike the track back to Marahou and take another water taxi instead. With resting, elevating, anti-inflamatories and heat pack treatment, Loren is doing a bit better.
We then learned that the previous Cyclone Gita that had veered south of Wellington while we were on the North Island did extensive damage to the Tasman National Park region of the South Island. Many “slips” are clearly visible across the landscape. Our trip “over the hill” to reach our accommodation in Takaka was delayed due to required road repair. The times for non-construction traffic are restricted to one escorted trip in the morning and one in the evening. So Loren had an opportunity to have a soak in a Kaiteriteri hot tub before we could drive the severely damaged route. It reminded me of the frequent road closings due to landslides on Route 17 between San Jose and Santa Cruz at home. So on leaving here we will have another very early departure this week.