Walks and Thoughts

of Michael Simes

An old Man's Tale:

Shelf

Brighouse

West Vale

Clay House

Ripponden

Cragg Vale

Todmorden

Heptonstall

Pecket Well

Luddenden Dean

Jerusalem Farm

Catherine Slack

Stone Chair

It's Just Like Home:

Hong Kong

Auckland

Rotarua

Napier

Picton

Marlborough Sounds

Kaikoura

Milford Sound

Sydney

Manly

Blue Mountains

Northern Beaches

Thailand

A City Of Revolution:

Paris

Versailles

Sacré-Cœur

Notre Dame

Discovering New Zealand

Travelling Round New Zealand Sightseeing and Exploring


Picton


Morning run. Wellington’s grown on me as you familiarise with running route. You begin to set down your roots. Greet some people more than once. You get to know your way round and recognise places. Whizzing tourists get no connections and substitute with adrenaline pumping pursuits.

Business lunches, commercial meetings, working breakfasts, mobiles and networking disturb rhythm in bustling café society. Yesterday exhausted by travel lag and draining of constant new environment.

Ferry to Picton is over three hours. Shared egg on toast outside station forecourt with complimentary biscuits. Friendly enthused chef serves one of the highlights of the day.

Train station built in 1937 with roman columns and art deco influence. Shuttle service from station to ferry terminal. The Arahura path to the setting sun, is loaded with trains, articulates, camper vans, cars, coaches and foot soldiers. Now your holiday starts on the sea. As we surge towards the Cook Straits tourists don’t look cool. Who would wear a Union Jack t-shirt? Spotted blue penguins in the harbour scavenging under the water.

Golden Age sailors for two comes to $106. Wellington a wrap around harbour sheltered from Cook Straits. Uncluttered by water activity with close-ups of snow capped mountains we merge into the open sea.

Ferry crossing a visual sensation. Wellington night life is legendary. A far cry from time when pubs open only for one hour after work - the “six o’clock swill”. Cultural hangovers persist.

Marlborough region accounts for over half of New Zealand wine production. Oz Clark promises Sauvignon Blanc is best in the world. Marlborough wine trail reveals secluded bays and caves hidden round the water.

Wellington to Picton is 93k. Club class an extra $20 with “no kids allowed, you can guarantee a nice crossing”. In World War 1. thirteen thousand New Zealanders lost their lives. In the Army museum at Waiouru they have the “exciting innovation of simulated mustard gas”. Grandad Mason was disabled by the mustard.

An exciting adventure and outdoor wonderland. A mountain to sea ecosystem. This is New Zealand. This is middle earth. Tolkien’s images in the wild beauty of the landscape. Walking in the footsteps of Frodo and Sam. Lush green, velvets and majestic mounts. Your guide could be an Orc.

As came into Sounds it’s just like traversing the fiords to Bergen, but no houses. Camera, clicks and observations on crowded viewing deck. Ate our sandwiches on deck. Freedom guitar played in native Peruvian woollen hat, strummed a song. Pumped up in liquor. It’s a kind of entertainment.

Queen Charlotte beckons, we can capture on digital. Gay catering server unable to comprehend my accent, seemed obsessed with accurate description of bread roll.

Picton a picturesque welcoming transit for Abel Tasman and Queen Charlotte treks. Stunning views on show. Helpful advice centre on harbour side. Directed to Marineland Guest House, B and B for $105, double en-suite, continental breakfast, internet, Sky facilities and cooling outdoor swimming. It’s the doctor’s house.

Not yet been mosquito bitten, hay fever not evident. Will it all return on our Sound bush tramp?

Seabreeze café serves wonderful scenery and lamb shanks spoilt by heavy sauce. Nouveau cooking not appreciated by the taste. Blue cod enjoyed by Carolyn.

Kaiteriteri

Hired a car and drove three hours to Little Kaiteriteri on the edge of Abel Tasman. Motoring through alpine country. Sheer drops camouflaged by bush vegetation.

Kaiteriteri a lovely place. Delightful composition of soft white sand, green sea, blue sky, sweeping bays and coves, and rocky outcrops. Pine drenched mountains and fluctuating lagoons backdrop for a beached Mediterranean holiday. Not too commercial just useful facilities like customised water taxis shuttling to Abel Tasman track.

Impressive Torlesse Coastal Motel @ $160 double per night. Stayed in for home-made feta, onion and tomato omelette and fresh salad with yeasty local Turkish bread, finished off with Manuka, fruit and yogurt. A tasty treat.

Driving experience is foreign and familiar. Coming into Nelson exposes long stretches of sand in estuary. “It’s just like Morecambe Bay”. Rain and snow forecast for The Alps region.

Pat arranged our car. Her daughter’s been in Birmingham for seven years. She loves it: how do they do that? Brian makes coffee and bakes his own fruit berry muffins. He likes England and going to Yorkshire next year.

Tropical but dull rain with pockets of brightness to entice. Tomorrow is longest day when weather settles into summer. Today the departing revenge from remnants of spring. Telephone call to John who is home for Christmas. Spend all day reading and planning.

Maoris and Pakeha insulated from each other. Europeans did not draw from cultural reserves of Maori life. They just wanted land. Maoris not eligible for public funds. In 1888 the first Maori played rugby.

By afternoon sun comes out revealing that summer has started. Little Kaiteriteri, and Big Kaiteriteri vie with each other as “playground for the nation”. Travellers pay for one and get the other free. Discovered two more deserted coves round headland. Sat on rocks eating sandwiches and rest of isotonics. Sea enjoyed playfully rolling in lapping our feet and competing for the biggest wave. This is the Mediterranean, an idyllic spot. A passing Tui deposits with exemplary accuracy. The sea has joy and tragedy in its memory genes, bare chested we serenade the sea and delicately dip our feet. Tourists invade our space but soon depart unable to fathom how to behave in such ideal. Hurriedly rescued our gear from the clasping sea.

The rocky promontory sustains the spirits and refuge. Gods still linger in forest and ocean. At the summit there’s on evocative Maori tribute to ancestors who left their footprints here. I have left mine. A Pa and spiritual hideaway masquerading as a look-out. On the beach bared torsos reddening, too thirsty for the sun.

Searched out running track around lagoon. Bush is dark and threatening full of things that rustle, dart and bite. Relieved to get out the other side unmolested.

Rain encourages early journey back to Picton. Bleeping warning light leads to consultation with native boat engineers. Decided to give car a go and see what happens. Road deserted outside centres of population. Interesting stopover café with hot teas and succulent fruit muffins. It’s all home made in New Zealand. They enjoy their cafes.

Carolyn’s broken toe entails rethink of walking Queen Charlotte track and our weeks sojourn on Marlborough Sound. Discussed with water taxi entrepreneur and baggage handlers. Agreed a taxi to each resort along the track. Strapped up Carolyn so can manage short strolls rather than 10 -15km each day between our hotels.

Checked emails and replied with updates. They’ve got a turkey back home. Will be our first Christmas away from family.

Excellent food, well cooked and not swimming in postmodern sauce at The Barn in Picton. Staying in Harbour View Motel at $135 in spacious studio with breathtaking views over marina and fiords.