Picton – Wow! What a pretty harbor.
By far the nicest ferry terminal I’ve ever seen. This tiny town has only about 3000 full-time residents. About twice that number are here every day in the summer, visiting.
We’re at the north end of the South Island, a complicated realm of mountainous islands, peninsulas, bays, and coves in the famous wine-growing district of Marlborough. It’s a sailor’s paradise. In the recent past the area was heavily fished, logged, and grazed, but now some of the islands and waters are protected, and they are bouncing back.
Early in the morning, we boarded a water taxi and took the scenic, hour-long ride out to our drop-off point at Resolution Bay. A short, steep climb from the pier took us to the Queen Charlotte Track, one of New Zealand’s legendary trails. Our aim was to walk a 10-km segment and meet the boat after lunch for a return to Picton.
As many of you know, Karel has bad knees. Only a week or so before we started our honeymoon, he was on crutches for a day. We weren’t sure how this attempt at a 10K walk would go.
The trail climbed gradually through a forest of manuca trees. These are a type of tea tree. The honey produced from them has some remarkable properties and is used in hospitals—but also tastes good. The manucas are in bloom now and have a light, pleasant fragrance. They are also much beloved by cicadas.
Now and then the trail would curve back into a moist vale, and the vegetation changed to ferns, cabbage palms, and rimu. We encountered several wekas. These flightless birds are about the size of a chicken and had no fear of us at all. All along the way we had glimpses of the beautiful blue waters of the sound.
We reached the pinnacle of our trail, about 200 m. Karel was doing OK, but had to concentrate to walk safely on the uneven terrain. Going down would be even harder. We found a nice walking stick for him on the forest floor, lightweight and comfortable to hold.
The trail rounded a headland and the forest changed to a mature, mixed woodland of tall, tall ferns, rimu, and huge native beech trees. Every few steps, the sounds of insects, birds, wind, and water would change. It was a feast for the ears. I stopped frequently and turned on the video recorder to sample the sounds. Maybe I can edit together a “sounds of New Zealand” recording using Garageband. That’ll be a project for a stormy day.
Karel made slow, but steady, progress, and at last we were back near sea level. The trail smoothed out and we left the reserve and started crossing vacation home properties and cabins, but by then we were both footsore and weary, and time was getting short. Karel was contemplating a plan B in case we would miss our boat, but we were relieved to see a sign with “25 minutes” for our destination while we still had 80 minutes left.
I tried to offer some encouragement and kept going. A couple more kilometers, and our trek ended at a very elegant lodge. We had only a short wait for our water taxi, so we relaxed over cappuccinos. The taxi came in bearing a large group of visitors arriving for a wedding the next day.
The ride back was relaxing and beautiful.
Karel was relieved to not only have walked a 10K (on uneven terrain) but especially to not have pain in his knees the day after…This entry was posted in Honeymoon 2013