|Marlborough Sounds 7th – 10th March Blog 150
We head into Blenheim town centre, along with stocking up on food and fuel we have a few other missions to do, one quite important, our payment to Motokiwi for our clutch plates, thanks again Pete for such prompt service. We also get the chance to return and swap the airbed for a new one so no more flat nights!!
It’s time to play again and we are headed for an area called Marlborough sounds this is at the top of the south island and nice and remote. We stop at a DOC campground at Pelorous Bridge which is fairly busy and after a good chicken stir fry for dinner the caretaker comes over with her torch and asks who wants to see the glow worms, after the entire campground is assembled with torches we play follow my leader in the pitch dark through the bush. It’s a bit like follow my leader and chinese whispers – tree roots (pee boots!!), river crossing slippy, she counts the head torches all the little ducklings have made it!! Assembled on the bank of the waterfall (which is magnificent in torch light) we all douse our lights and are treated to glow worm partytime, we can even make out different shades in the moss and foliage around the falls, a rare treat indeed. On the walk back we chat to Paul a kiwi cyclist who joins us for a beer before bed. Next morning we leave the tent up to dry whilst we retrace our way to the waterfall it is very photgenic in the daylight, there is another one approximately 30mins further on, we jog most of the way to save some time and keep us fit (ish), this unfortunately completely undoes the shower we had earlier and the waterfall wasn’t half as good as the first…..drat.
Tent down we have lunch and set off for Marlborough sound and a DOC campground at French Pass. We have about 50km of tarseal up twisty mountains weaving all around the hills before we drop into Okiwi bay. It is remote out here and we are just about to do the remaining 20km on gravel to the end at French Pass when Kev spots ‘Pint Size’ Jeanette and Earnies bus. We cannot pass by without saying hi. We stop and exchange stories over coffee it is lovely to see them, they are heading to Elaine Bay tomorrow so our paths may cross again. We continue past Elaine Bay where the tarseal runs out, it is now gravel to the end over farming land with spectacular views. We arrive and pitch up then take a walk along the beach, the tide has just turned and we find starfish and jellyfish washed up. The starfish we throw back in the sea, the jellyfish look like glass on the beach. Diane our DOC lady comes to collect the camp fees she has been drafted in from Totranui campground where her husband still is and thoroughly recomends we go there, it was on our to do list already. Although a usually peaceful spot here we are sharing the village with 30 odd kids on an excursion who are chatting excitedly in a house on the hill a way away, it looks like an earplug night tonight might be the way to go.
We sleep well oblivious to the partying thanks to our lug plugs definitely a good move, we are making our way back towards Elaine Bay to camp today as we have had a good look around here. The road in was the main reson we came as it offers amazing views deep into the sounds, we stop many times to view and photograph. On the way back we take the short walk down to the lookout over French Pass where we can see how turbulent the waters are on this notoriously dangerous channel, (check out the info on the photo) From here we backtrack up the stunningly beautiful road we came in on across farmland with views either side of the penisular, it has been a spectacular couple of days with glorious sun. Just before we enter the tree line we see a good picnic spot, a better view we could not have from both sides of the table….
Arriving at Elaine Bay we see Jeanette and Earnie are already here, it’s not the best ground for tents rutted and muddy but I strike lucky and spy a path just behind the toilets that leads to a perfect tipi sized clearing, flat grass with a view worth millions and even a table and our own private beach access we just have to get the bike up the tiny path which we accomplish with no problems.
Walking along the wharf we spy loads of fish large and small along with huge starfish and itty biddy ones. There is no fishing by the wharf as it is where the mussel ships come in to unload.
We sit outside our ‘penthouse’ enjoying the sun setting Jeanette comes for a visit till it gets too dark. I think of my mum it’s her birthday today/tomorrow at home but I can’t text we are too remote for phone signals.
Waking to a stunning view we decide to swim, snorkle or walk after breakfast and walk down our beach access, here we spy a man with kayaks obviously for hire so we stroll over to enquire. It is very reasonable so we go for the half day option as food is running too low to stay another day. Our helpful kayak man suggests where to go and tells us how to find and harvest the mussels from the farm two coves over (they don’t mind paddlers taking a few). We push off and spend a delightful four or so hours weaving in and out all the inlets and coves, the water is really clear and at times it’s like looking into a giant aquarium. We pull up alongside the ropes holding the mussels and pluck off enough for tea. It is not as easy as it sounds the larger the mussels the lower in the water they hang, so it’s a balancing act of leaning out just far enough not to tip the kayak, we find a good spot and get a few handfulls of nice ones each. This is the reason the mussel farms aren’t worried about a few kayak hunters they harvest tonnes at a time anyway. Paddling our way out to a little islet we have lunch then mosey our way back. It has been a glorious morning but we have a contact in Nelson and time is fast disappearing. After the tent is down we have a coffee to wake us up and say goodbye to Jeanette and Ernie before setting off to Nelson.
We retrace our wiggley route from the Marlborough sound penisular to the main road and we assume now we are on the main highway to Nelson it will be straight from here but no we are delighted to find the road twists and turns all over the hills before dropping down into Nelson what a ride…getting what we need in town we head for our contacts Simon and Sam (female).