The Big Boat Adventure
Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
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Road Trip Top Tip #06:- 'Remember where you put stuff..'
The last few days have been spot on. From the moment we arrived in Portage, where we parked up and planted roots at our self-claimed beach at Nikau Cove, the time has been priceless.
Following the excitement of the last entry, I can confirm that we didn't take a kayak out that day but we did get hold of an outboard motor, clamped it on to a dinghy and chugged excitedly around the sounds and many of the hundreds of unspoiled coves that are tucked away in its hidden corners. We even found an old disused tramping track which twists up through the mountains over to a place called Ferndale. It's amazing, a real heaven on earth, and there's so much of it to explore. There are arms and arms of bays that twist all over the place, for miles, and the occasional off-set coves that meet with only a whisper of sand between them. Wherever you look this whole hilly paradise is covered head to toe with thick native bush, right down to sea level. If you squint your eyes and look around you can see a whole kingdom of landscape covered in brocolli.
So I'm sure it won't come as a shock to hear that these last three days camped out under the stars on our own beach in this idyllic location have been the highlight of the trip so far. We waded knee deep into low tide last night and harvested ourselves a small mountain of cockles and green lipped mussels. A good steaming and a splash of extra virgin later and we were lapping it up. By far the juiciest mussels I've rattled down my neck, and to think you'd pay a small fortune for these in the restaurants. We probably chucked more than we cooked..
And so... we found it hard to leave.
That said, an easy decision was made. Already both hooked on all this we naturally wanted more, and so we took the tricky road down to the far tip of the headland at Guards Bay) to find more hidden sounds. This involved the steady negotiation of a rickety, dusty, unsealed mountain road but with shocking views all around that teased relentlessy through the occasional gap in the trees and had us slamming on the brakes and reversing back through our own dust cloud to get a better look. A good part of the drive was spent cloaked in a thick chilly cloud which hugged the mountain ridge we were traversing. The views when we broke out of it were stupid. It was like another country entirely. I still cannot get my head around the diversity that New Zealand keeps up its sleeve for when you least expect it.
With another 'end of the line' under our belt we turned around and started the next lengthy phase of the operation. This meant heading back on ourselves all the way through Havelock (the mussel capital of the world - allegedly) and up along the small minor road that winds its way up towards Okiwi Bay and other similarly treasured locations. It took a small eternity and the onset of two bad backs but it's all part of a necessary drive that will give us access to the sounds on the other side. They have had an affect you know. In fact, this magical corner of New Zealand is already starting to par alongside the Fiordland, something I never thought I'd say..
(Note: The pics from the big boat adventure are from Chicken's amazing underwaterproofablecameracase..)