The Sounds of Summer

For once we had no more than a 30 minute trip to get to our next bach, The Red House in Tirimoana, Anakiwa is only 30 minutes away from Picton along the Queen Charlotte Drive but a world away from the bustle of a ferry port. Anakiwa sits at the innermost end of the Queen Charlotte Sound so it is very sheltered and enclosed. There is a small village, an outward bound centre and not much else. However, it does get visitors because it is at the start of the Queen Charlotte Track (or the end of it if you’re coming the other way). The QCT is about 71 klms long if you go all the way to Ship Cove and generally takes 5 days to complete. It is also part of the famous Te Araroa track, the 3,000 klms long walking track that covers the whole length of New Zealand. Some people are mad enough to do that one!

Our wonderful cottage had a great kitchen and living space, huge windows and a large front facing deck from where we could see the boat bobbing sea (to steal a phrase from Dylan Thomas). It was surrounded by bush and birds, was very quiet, and at night, out the back overlooking a creek, you could see the twinkling of a thousand lights from glow worms. What with the stars overhead as well it was quite a magical place.

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I’d like to say that we used it as a base for walking the QCT but that would be untrue. We did walk several sections, from Anakiwa to Davis Bay and from Te Mahia part of the way back towards Anakiwa but once you had spent an hour or so walking through forest with glimpses of the sea down below it became a bit samey for us. So instead we explored by car but stopping frequently, getting out and walking either on the QCT or along quiet roads and tracks. We were quite content to walk down to Waterfall Bay, for instance, and eat our sandwiches on the lovely jetty there, watching sting rays in the water, the boats messing about and generally soaking up the sun.

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Or we would explore Kenepuru Head and then go for a soft drink at the hotel in Portage. It was all about relaxing.

Having sailed the mail boat on Pelorus Sound we also wanted to explore some of the land that we had passed so we drove out beyond Havelock, over the Pelorus Bridge, up the Rai Valley and into the stunning landscape of the Pelorus Sound archipeligo.

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Out here you drive up twisting, soaring roads high up to the spine of the land before dropping precipitously down to a tiny little bay at Tennyson Inlet or Elaine Bay. Once again it was a case of driving so far and then getting out on a track. The most beautiful of these is the Nydia Bay track which is another two day affair of which we did only part.

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By now the overcast weather we’d experienced at Picton had given way to cloudless blue skies and soaring temperatures so walking was becoming ever more tiring and on our final day we set out on a relatively short walk only to give up after about half an hour. There’s just no point exhausting yourself, especially as we knew we’d be leaving the next day and had a long journey in the car and the heat to face.

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Summer has returned to New Zealand and we’d throughly enjoyed our time in the Sounds. But, lovely as all the boat filled bays are, sparkling as the sun dappled sea is and dramatic as the hills and valleys are, we are at heart mountain people so it was time to turn our back on the sea and head for them thar hills.

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