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New Zealand Trip Report

Day 8 of 24

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Friday, March 8th
Marlborough Sounds cruise, drive to Kairuru sheep farm

We woke up early and had a great breakfast of blueberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, cereal, and eggs, bacon, and sausage. Kathryne's a great cook! After breakfast we drove back to Picton (about a half hour drive), where we boarded a Beachcomber cruise ship.

The man at the visitor's center had said the cruise would last from 9:30am to about 11:45. Unfortunately, it was really supposed to be about 12:45. And it would last longer than that, still. We wouldn't be concerned except we had to drive all the way to Motueka today. So that made us a bit pensive during the cruise.

There were about 15 to 20 passengers on the boat, some of them with packs. Presumably they'd be starting the Queen Charlotte Track today. They didn't have to carry much, though, as water taxis could resupply them throughout the hike. As we headed out into Queen Charlotte Sound, we saw dolphins racing alongside the boat! Eventually they peeled away and we were left with great views of the many small bays to the left, Blumine Island looming in front of us.

Dolphin racing alongside the boat

The boat rocked violently when we passed through the wake of the Interisland ferry. Other than that, though, it was relatively calm. I didn't suffer the seasickness that I've felt before. The captain mentioned a 1986 Russian shipwreck which now lies in Queen Charlotte Sound, 120 feet under water. It's owned by an insurer, in case you have ideas of doing any scavenging.

It took us about 1 hour to reach Motuara Island, where we had only about 15 minutes before the boat would come back and pick us up. That's too bad, as there is a trail to the top of the island; it would have been nice to see the view. You can apparently kayak to the island, so that's one way of doing it. We saw several kayakers beached on the island. When we landed, we quickly headed up the trail into the bush.

Bird on Motuara Island

Motuara Island is a bird sanctuary. We stopped occasionally to listen and watch for the birds around us. We saw a few, but it takes more patience than 15 minutes allows. Too soon we had to head back downhill and wait for the boat to return. There were only 6 of us now. The boat had taken the other passengers on to Ship Cove to start their hike.

Forest on Motuara Island

Unfortunately, it would be much more than 6 of us by the time we got back. The boat made several stops to pick up passengers or drop off packages. We stopped numerous times in Resolution Bay and Endeavour Inlet. The longest stop was when we stopped at the Discovery Bay Center to pick up a whole school full of kids who'd just had a 4 day camp, along with their counselors. They loaded all of their gear into the middle of the boat, making a huge pile of packs and assorted gear, fishing rods, etc. This time, when we went through the wake of the Interislander, the pile toppled over.

View of the sound from the boat

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally reached the ferry terminal. We could have waited for them to unload the kids and baggage, as the ship would eventually return to the pier where we'd started. But that would have taken too long, and it was already 1:10pm. So we got off and walked instead. We went to Le Cafe, which is where we were supposed to go the previous day. I had a steak sandwich while Jean had a salad. I couldn't resist having a piece of cheesecake, as well. It was all good. I'd go back there again. On our way out we noticed that the cook and waitress from Gibb's was having lunch at Le Cafe.

We drove back to Antria, where we loaded our bags into our car and settled the bill before Kathryne took us on a little excursion. She first drove us over to a Maori carver she knows. He had a studio on his property where he showed us some of his necklaces which incorporated bone, shell, and greenstone all in one. He also had clubs which he displayed to us, including one with a greenstone handle. Then he brought us over to the garage, where he showed us some of the larger pieces he was working on. He showed us the head of a canoe he had just finished! He'd been carving for about 40 years and the quality and experience definitely showed.

After the carver, Kathryne drove us up to a local potter. She had a small studio on site with beautiful pottery of all shapes and sizes displayed in shelves. Jean and Kathryne eyed the pottery while I walked outside and enjoyed the great views of the wineries below, with the brown hills in the distance.

One of Andy's Lord of the Rings figures

Jean and Kathryne at Antria

We returned to Antria where I took the opportunity to take a few pictures of Andy's Lord of the Rings models. Then we said our goodbyes and stopped in at a grocery store in Blenheim. It was quite crowded for a small town. We left Blenheim around 5:15pm, arriving at Nelson an hour an a half later. We kept going, toward the small town of Motueka. The drive here is not nearly as pretty as the drive from Nelson to Blenheim. Along the way we passed many blue circular signs with red crosses through them -- no words at all. I couldn't figure out what they meant. Eventually I looked it up on the web and found out it means "No parking". We passed through Motueka and shortly afterwards came across plants growing in rows, with wooden frames supporting wires from which the plants were supported about 15 feet above the ground. We later found out that this was probably kiwi fruit.

Shortly after Motueka the road begins climbing up Takaka Hill. We got great views of the surrounding hillsides. Near the top of the hill, we turned into Kairuru, the sheep farm we were staying at. I hadn't been expecting much from a working sheep farm, but Jean wanted to stay here. Nothing could have prepared me for the amazing views from the cottage. We stayed in Kea Cottage, which has two bedrooms along with a kitchen and laundry. But the main attraction is the view. We were high up on a hill, about 2000 feet above sea level, but we could see all the rolling green hills below us, leading down to Abel Tasman National Park. We could clearly see Fisherman Island and part of Adele Island, sitting in the sparkling waters of Tasman Bay.

Beautiful view from Kairuru

We'd arrived just before dusk, but we could see some sheep on the property, along with two peacocks around our cottage. We enjoyed the views, then headed inside to have a dinner of soup, bread, and fruits that we bought in Blenheim. On the coffee table was a book about the Kairuru farm, explaining some of its history. The Henderson family bought the property back in 1916 and have lived on it ever since. It was interesting reading about their clearing of the native bush, and their fear of winds carrying embers from Australia which could set their homes ablaze. It's probably very hard to find, but for those of you who are interested, the book is "Mountain Farm, Bush Farm" by Jim Henderson, ISBN 0-473-06257-7.

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