As I walked up the track, I thought, hold on, which way was I meant to be heading? I turned to look at the boat that had dropped me at the jetty, but it was now on it’s way to the headland and would be picking me up 10kms further on at another cove. Oh well, at least I had five hours to get it sorted out.
I spent my second to last weekend in Wellington, not actually in Wellington. Instead I got up bright and early Saturday morning (why god why) and walked around to the Interislander Ferry Terminal to get a ferry to Picton (top of the South Island, in the Marlborough Sounds) for the weekend.
The Marlborough Sounds is one of my favourite places on earth. The bush clad hills descending into crystal-clear deep turquoise green sea of the various coves and inlets of Kenepuru Sound.
After dropping 2 other walkers off at Ship Cove, at 10am I stepped off the mail-boat and onto the jetty at Resolution Bay. I then set to walking to my lunch destination: Furneaux Lodge in Endeavour Inlet, approx. 10kms further on (back?) My walk was the first day’s section of the 71km Queen Charlotte Track, a coastal walk through the Marlborough Sounds, and one of the most popular summer walking tracks in NZ.
As I walked, I could hear weka foraging in the undergrowth, fantails darting and cheeping and cicadas singing summer into existence; I threaded my way beneath ancient beech forests, across hillsides of tree ferns and through mud puddles made fresh with last night’s rain. The walk took approx. 2.5 hours, 1 hour upwards and 1.5 hours heading back down until I reached Furneaux Lodge.
I choose the lunch option with the CougarLine mail-boat transport to and from the track, and so for $10 extra I had my choice of 5 excellent sounding mains from the renowned Furneaux Lodge kitchen. I went with the pan fried fish fillet on a potato rosti with garden salad, augmented with the bottle of water I had carried along with me. Delicious.
I then wandered back up to the main track and took the trail up to the waterfall. This led me bush-bashing along the side of a stream, over roots slippery with moss, under fallen trees, through bush that looked not to have changed since Captain Cook discovered the area. I didn’t actually get to the waterfall as it was an hour round trip, and I had a launch to catch from the jetty at 3pm.
On the way back to Picton we picked up several other parties from various jetties in other coves of the Sounds including a lady with a broken leg in plaster (something about rugby?) from the Bay Of Many Coves, and a couple who were transitioning to full time retirement in their Sounds bach from Wellington.
My ferry back to Wellington leaves Picton at 7:40pm, which allowed me to really see a bit of the Sounds. I was super lucky with the weather as well. It was a great day for walking- sunny and warm. Picton is mostly a summer destination, used as a jumping off point for the rest of the Marlborough Sounds, and also to drive to other cities like Nelson, Blenheim and Kaikora. Its main tourist season is generally daylight saving to daylight saving (October – April), but given the recent weather, and slight winter, people were starting to get out and about early.
I am sitting in a pizza bar in Picton drinking a pinot noir (bought for me by a guy sitting 2 tables away and sent to my table, how often does that happen?!) and waiting on my vegetarian pizza before my ferry boards.
I am a little sad to be returning to work as the weekend has been so relaxing, and so far removed from my everyday life in Wellington. As I watch the water in the harbour start to take on pinkish hues of sunset, I feel good-tired, and I think I might also be a little burnt.
What a fantastic weekend.