Monday, March 8, 2010
It is a glorious morning here in our camp at Kenepuru Head, Sounds Foreshore Reserve. Our camp is just on the edge of an embankment overlooking the Kenepuru Sound, which runs adjacent to the Queen Charlotte Sound and one of the Great Walks in New Zealand the Queen Charlotte Track. It was a twisting winding drive to reach the end of the sealed road and Gregory had to sit in the front seat to keep his stomach down. It was worth it though. The views are spectacular and the trees are full of birds singing us a symphony. Mike is chatting with some cyclists from Austria and I’m sure has them convinced they should come to America to ride the TransAmerica Trail. Last night we met a couple from Croatia while we tried to snap pictures of the cheeky little weka birds that poked their heads out from the underbrush and eventually came in to our camp looking for a hand out.
Night before last at our camp kitchen in Waikawa we met Jouni (Finnish and pronounced “Yonnie”) and Kirsty who are from London and are traveling around the world for the next year. They have already been throughout Southeast Asia and to Australia and Mike commented that they are probably about the age we were when we first went traveling on our honeymoon 21 years ago. Gregory quickly made friends when they pulled out the playing cards. They taught him “Cheaters” and he taught them War, Speed (which Jouni called Rapid Fire) and Go Fish. We visited well into the evening and they tipped us off that the Eco World Aquarium was having “Day of the Child” the next day and entrance would be only $5 vs. $20!
We met up again at breakfast and again at the aquarium and kept crossing paths throughout the day as we wandered about the port town of Picton. Gregory wanted to follow them on their 3-day tramping excursion along the Queen Charlotte Track but we explained that we weren’t equipped for that kind of hiking (no hiking boots or packs). We did have an excellent time at the aquarium viewing a wide variety of fish, an octopus, turtles and eels, sea horses, tuatara (a lizard that has been on earth since the time of the dinosaurs), New Zealand birds and the Weta (a native insect that has been making a comeback since they have created rat-free habitats for the weta). I thought it was especially interesting that scallops don’t like starfish and will “swim” away when one is introduced next to the shell opening. The shell opens and closes as the scallop sort of “puffa-puffs” away across the rock pool. Also the spiny kina (sea urchin) will use its spines to flip itself over if put on its back.
At the Picton foreshore we made our way around the festival complete with music, dancing and food! Mike and I tried sausages with grilled onions on a slice of bread with steak sauce and it was delicious. We road on a wee train with Gregory and watched children sail their wee wind powered boats in a man-made pond.
A couple of days ago in Nelson we again camped right on the beach with a wide expanse of sand shores to explore. Gregory was thrilled to play with the many dogs out for a walk and to splash along the shoreline and collect many shells. We saw loads of oysters, mussels, cockles and clams. On our first evening, in came a sudden rainstorm, which burst from the clouds and we gathered for shelter near the kitchens where we shared a picnic table with Scots Frank and his brother Doug (who lives in Christchurch) and Frank’s girlfriend Kay. Frank and Kay are here on holiday to do some fly-fishing and Doug is accompanying them. We watched them grill some of the famous green mussels and they let us sample some trout they’d caught. They storm passed and we visited until late in the evening. Doug it turns out is a cyclist and was interested to here about our journey.
We reconvened in the same spot at breakfast and Frank threw the football around with Gregory and I but the fun ended when Gregory stepped in a hole and twisted his ankle. We found out that Frank was a medic for 82nd Airborne, which is the same branch of the military my brother-in-law served under. They were off to Murchison to do more fishing and we were off as well so we said our goodbyes and exchanged emails. We hope to connect with Doug again when we depart Christchurch.
After saying farewell to the Austrian cyclists Mike playing auto mechanic and helped a stranded lass get her van going. He figures she flooded it but it was definitely running a bit rough. We are quite a ways out in the middle of nowhere so she was very grateful for his help especially since she was on her own.