Picton is at the head of the Queen Charlotte Sound and it is where the ferries from the North Island arrive on the South Island. Not many people spend too much time in Picton, but we thoroughly enjoyed our two weeks.
Our plan was to walk the Queen Charlotte Track. This 70km track runs the length of The Sound and the views are spectacular. It is a fabulous walk. Our original plan was to carry our stuff and camp along the track, but the tour operators here are extremely well organised and they have a selection of much easier, tempting alternatives. I am not sure we really deserved a treat, but the thought of three nights in small hotels with hot showers, good food and our luggage transported was just to difficult refuse. We weakened!
Rather frustratingly the wind and conditions meant that the water taxi was unable to take us to the start of the walk at Ships’ Cove, so we started a little way from the beginning. We returned in A Capella and did this final part of the walk on another day. We were particularly keen to visit Ships’ Cove as Captain Cook had visited the Cove five times and there is a monument to him.
It is incredible but the bulk of the walk goes through well established, regenerating bush. Much of the land was cleared when this land was originally settled. The area is huge and it is difficult to imagine what all this wood was needed for. At the end of the walk the track passes through native coastal forest which has been preserved since 1903 and it is unique and very special.
We were intrigued by the Weka. A flightless bird which you never see until you sit down for something to eat. It has to be said that the New Zealand sparrows, ducks, seagulls and weka are all rather polite in comparison to the thieving seagulls of Hereford or St Ives.
On returning to Picton we were delighted to see another long distance cruising boat, Reve a Deux, and intrepid French sailors Dominique and Anne. Dominique and Anne sailed through the Beagle channel in Patagonia to reach the Pacific – we are very impressed. They are delightful company and had organised a visit to an art gallery, the Mark Stevenson collection. This is not something we ordinarily do, but what a pleasure and what interesting art. Some of our favourites below.
Finally the time came to leave Queen Charlotte Sound and head into the Pelorus Sound. The scenery in Pelorus Sound was again fantastic but it is even more remote and so peaceful – no tripper boats, in fact hardly anyone at all. It felt like we had this huge area to ourselves. While we were here, we heard the wonderful news that our son Tristan and Marie have become engaged.
These sounds are incredibly deep with very little shelving at the edges which makes anchoring very difficult. We have joined the Waikawa Boat Club and have been able to use their bouys. This has proved to be a good move as their bouys are well maintained although their closeness to the shore is a little disconcerting at times.
It has been six weeks since we left Waiheke near Auckland but what fun we have had, and just how amazing are the Sounds? We are so pleased we made the extra effort to sail here.
We arrived in Nelson yesterday where we are meeting friends for Christmas. It does not seem too Christmassy, but really we are just hoping for a much better 2021. I guess like everyone we just cannot believe how bad this pandemic has become. We feel like we are living in a parallel universe, but we do think of home so much, and wish everybody a good as it can be Christmas, and a much better 2021.