Monday, January 3, 2011
Hiking in Marlborough Sound
Two days ago, we were in Picton, which is about 5 hours up and around the coast of the southern island from Christchurch. We arrived at around 10:30 on new year's eve and watched the fireworks. The next morning, we went to Le Cafe a few blocks away and had breakfast. It was very good. At about 1:30, we went to the docks and hired a boat to take us out into the sound and drop us off somewhere out on the remote parts of the peninsula and then pick us up at a spot about 4 hours away. The boat ride was long and gorgeous. We were on it for about an hour and a half and the scenery was breathtaking. Eventually we arrived at Ship's Cove where we started our hike. About 2 minutes in, we saw our first animal. It's called a Weka and is about the size of a chicken. It's a flightless bird that is only lives in the area where we were hiking. It was very different.
Half an hour later, we were almost run off the path by an errant cow. It must have lost it's way from one of the farms and found the trail. It was a strange experience.
As we hiked, we came across spectacular views, as well as remote farms--some of which we had to walk between sheep and chicken to get past. The views were just amazing. At one point, you could look into the sound and turn around and look into Cook's straight (in between the North and South Islands) and if you stared hard enough, you could just see the tip of the north island.
Occasionally, we would stop and snack while Wekas waited anxiously for us to drop any food. Eventually we reached our destination (Furnaux campgrounds) which had a pier. As we were waiting, we waded in the water. The water was surprisingly warm and very clear. We spoke with some people who had boated in from Wellington (on the north island) for vacation (or holiday). They were diving for Crays (which are essentially rock lobsters) and were all around enjoying themselves. Eventually, our boat arrived and we started heading back. Marlborough is wine country here in New Zealand so we decided to split a bottle of wine on the boat (they had a makeshift bar on the boat where we could buy wine). As we rode back to Picton (about an hour of a ride) the sun was starting to set. As we passed boats and ferries, wine in hand, it was easy to get lost in the beauty. New Zealand has such an incredibly beautiful and diverse landscape.
One we disembarked, we went back to our respective hotel rooms showered and changed and met back up at Le Cafe for a late dinner (it was about 10pm by this point). I had my first (and probably last) NZ grass fed, free range Angus beef steak. It was beyond delicious. New Zealand is small enough that they don't need to torture their meat to feed their people. You can feel much better about eating animals here. You drive by their pastures all day and they're munching on grass with acres (or hectares) of room to run around. Many of the cafe's even have all organic/local food.
Our goal was to drive back in the morning in time to return the rental car and catch our flight southbound but since the flight was delayed we were able to have a nice breakfast before driving straight back to Christchurch. Once we checked back into our hotels we pretty much just rested. I think I've come down with a cold (Grant had one and most likely gave it to me) so a little rest is nice. Our flight is supposed to leave later today but who knows...