26 November 2012 – Pelorus Bridge

Pelorus Bridge – Circle Walk

There’s a campsite and a café at Pelorus Bridge Sceninc Reserve, and the café sells leaflets about  several walking tracks. We arrive quite late one afternoon, and decide to try the short Circle Walk.
We have to cross the road bridge before starting on the track.


From here it’s a pleasant, not too strenuous wander across a footbridge over the Rai, and then through woodland with views of the Pelorus river.
Afterwards we take another short track to the rocks and a swimming hole.
You can see the road bridge clearly – one lane only!

27 November – Mail boat trip from Havelock on the Pelorus Sound

We hummed and hawed and then thought what the hell? Let’s go on the mailboat cruise. So, we have to be in Havelock around 9:15. My attempt to set my phone alarm is a miserable failure, but I wake in good time anyway, and we pack a lunch and hit the road. We park just behind the jetty, and I wander off to pay the parking fee, while Harry goes to check us in. I return to find him involved in a “fellow Scots” conversation. The skipper of the mail boat is Jim from Elgin, who spent 3 weeks in New Zealand some years ago, and fell in love with the Marlborough Sounds. It’s a bit like the West of Scotland but with far better weather. He’s settled here with wife and child and garden and does the mail boat run. The tourists make the mail service financially viable, so everyone benefits. The homes he delivers to are those beyond the reach of the normal rural mail, which travels by road. My imagination balks at the self sufficiency of people living away from mains electricity and broadband. A tough breed.
We settle at the back of the boat in the open air, before going up the steep steps to the upper deck.DSCF5393


A Canadian joins us, with the comment, “You look as though you’re having far too much fun!” He and his two friends have walked the Queen Charlotte track, and the Nydia track.
We move out of Havelock Marina, along a channel in the wide expanse of water.

DSCF5394 Jim warns us that the scene will look rather different when we come back this afternoon.
After about half an hour we do the first mail drop – each of the houses has two mail bags, one delivered and one returned for the next time. The house dwellers and the mail boat clearly relish the chat. Some deliveries are groceries, and some are school supplies for distance learning without broadband access.
In between drops, Jim tells us some of the history of the mail boat run, and the people who rely on it.


There’s Wendy, who hunts possums for their fur, and has to row out to collect her supplies, since she hasn’t got a jetty. We hear her dogs announcing her arrival. Later there’s a family who are still farming sheep and cattle after six generations, in spite of the steep terrain and minimal returns. Or Bill Brownlees who has rigged up an incredible system with water driven electricity.
Then there’s Nydia Bay, with its accommodation for hikers doing the two-day walk, where a couple of Woofers meet the mail boat.

We look out for wildlife – plenty of seabirds, shearwaters and Australasian gannets, but alas no dolphins – the sea’s a bit choppy and hides any that may be there. We catch sight of a couple of little blue penguins. The same species we met on Kapiti Island a few days ago.

At lunch time we stop at Te Rawa where we eat our packed lunch and buy a lemonade, before going to admire the ‘honeymoon suite’. The owner reckons it takes him forty minutes by boat to get into town.
On we go, round Maud Island, a nature reserve where there are takahe.

Only three people live on this nature reserve. Our last stop is to pick up Murray, a third generation inhabitant who returned to the Sound to look after his mother, who has since died.
Finally, at just after five pm, we turn back into the marina at Havelock, and go to the Info Centre cafe for tea and a date scone, before returning to our magnificent house for the week. Another thoroughly satisfactory day.

28 November – Picton, an evening walk from Anakiwa, blue cod in Havelock

28 Nov  Lazy morning gives way to Picton, cafe, shops, a walk, and blue cod and chips in Havelock, and a drive back under the full moon, whose markings are inverted.  The moon’s reflection in the still waters of the sound is clear and dramatic.

The cafe in Picton is near the waterfront area, light breezy. We parked the car outside a Scottish Bar, though it doesn’t look much like one.  Finally I twig the parking system in NZ   P60 must mean you can park for 60 minutes. After a coffee and a cheese and veg muffin we move the car and call in for a few extra supplies from the supermarket.  Then we return home, since it’s too hot to carry food in the car all day.  Aloe Vera is another purchase, along with postcards and stamps.

In the evening we drive out to the start of the Queen Charlotte Walkway at Anakiwa. You are allowed to walk along for an hour or so without a permit, so that’s what we do.  Good clear track, wooded, and flat as far as Davies Bay, where we see birds – a wader, elegant long-legged, high stepping at the water’s edge. It stays around for ages, quite unconcerned, by our presence and attempts to take photos. There’s a brilliant coloured bird, yellow below, with flashing blue-green back and wings . We think it’s some kind of kingfisher. The usual tuis are around, and a few mallard and loads of gulls. We’ve seem some primeval looking birds in trees, possibly a sort of duck, though they looked like penguins.  By the time we return to our starting point, time’s getting on. We think of calling at the pub-restaurant in Linkwater, but it closes at eight, and we arrive at eight ten. So – off to Havelock, and blue cod and chips at the Slip Inn. We also claim our free cup of coffee from a voucher given out on the Pelorus Mail Boat.
The blue cod flesh looks quite white, and tastes – like cod.  It’s actually a very good meal, with chips and salad. Recommended.
The young woman who serves us is by helpful and friendly, and tells us she is in the local fire brigade. A necessary outfit since official medical aid may be half an hour or more away in Blenheim.

29 November – out to Nelson

 Nelson and its beach
This is a long drive although the road is mostly good.
It’s the roadwork season, which causes a few delays.  There are views of high mountains, capped with snow.
When we arrive we discover a real town full of useful shops.
There’s its Christ church cathedral on a hill at the end of the main street access by many steps, a favourite place for locals to grab lunch, and a saxophonist to play his haunting tunes.
There’s place to buy camera cards and a coffee in a “Traditional European Cafe -established 2011”.   The café is run by a genuine European German with an accent to match.
We wander into a commercial “art gallery” – not much of interest, though there were some prints of local events.
Then there’s the Refinery Artspace, which was set up partly to provide employment opportunities for the “disadvantaged in the job market”.  A nice space, with an outdoor sculpture garden but not brilliantly used. An exhibition inside, on the theme of death, was none too cheery, of course !
We forget to bring our guide book, and we miss the “real” gallery.
Before we leave Nelson, we drive to the west,  a little further as far as the beach, wide open, flat, no swimmers in sight, just a couple of families playing beach games, running around on the sand.
Then it’s back to the road towards Havelock, with a stop at the Pelorus Bridge campsite and cafe, for an ice cream, then Harry and a couple of others dipped in the river, while I paddled and was attacked by sand flies !