New Zealand

Rabbit Island and Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

It’s nearly been a whole year since I first left for New Zealand. In so many ways that time has flown by, but when I think back to all of the things that I’ve done, experienced, the people I’ve met, I find it difficult to believe that it’s all been within the space of 12 months.

With that in mind, I’ve noticed that my exploratory side has dwindled somewhat. My weekends have been less and less about seeing something new, and more about, well, life stuff. Doing the washing, cleaning the house, going to the gym. In an attempt to bring back out the adventurer in me, I’ve made sure to fill my weekends with FUN stuff. Cue my last weekend’s antics.

Rabbit Island

I had heard how quaint and interesting Rabbit Island was from so many people, and it was about time that I went and experienced it for myself. Rabbit Island is a small island, covered with cycling tracks and lined with long, expansive beaches, making it the ideal place for families on holiday. I brought Nick and Dave along, and the three of us had a delightful cycle around the island. What started off as calm and scenic quickly became a roller coaster of intricate tracks filled with pine cones that I’m convinced were set as booby traps. This may seem unlikely, but these tiny demons meant that I ended up walking for half of the track and left me with some pretty serious injuries (matching scratches on both of my knees). We soon found ourselves on a flat, wide path (far more enjoyable) before looping back around to the cars and the beach. 4

We unraveled our sandwiches as we set up camp on the sand, taking note that we weren’t even near another group of people. It almost felt as though we had the beach to ourselves. We had a little paddle then called it a day and headed off to see what else we could explore (minus Nick).

Our adventure continued with a hike up to the centre of New Zealand, in Nelson, about a 20 minute drive from Rabbit Island. It had beautiful views from the top, and we were able spot Mt Arthur, that we plan on climbing next weekend.

Marlborough Sound Cruise with Cougar Line

We’d been eyeing up the Marlborough Sound Cruises for a little while, and finally booked onto one after realising that we’d hardly seen/done anything since moving to Motueka (plus Sarah works at Picton I SITE and was nearly able to wangle us a discount).

We drove the 2.5 hours early on Sunday morning, meeting Sarah and Brett in Picton for 9:30am. The boat departed at 10:00am sharp and we sped off into the Sounds. Sun shining, blue seas, I felt like we had fallen into a music video (minus the tans, sexy bods and musical talent). It was so nice to just relax – so much of living in the Abel Tasman is about adventure and fun stuff that makes me need 45641 trillion naps, which is great but sometimes all you want to do of a weekend is chill out. So we did.

We let the waves lure us into a fall sense of calamity, until the captain of the boat started speaking to us over the tanoy. Suspense clung to the air as we anticipated a delay, or a storm, or that lunch was going to be cancelled.

‘This morning we were lucky enough to come across some killer whales…and it seems they’ve hung around for us!’

To say I lost my s*** is an understatement. It’s not every day that you’re lucky enough to see a family of Orca’s less than 40 metres away, and we watched as they swam off together, breaking the surface of the water with their fins and squirting water out of their blowholes. It certainly made for an interesting conversation afterwards, especially given that Tilikum had passed away a few days prior to this sighting. (Terrible photo below, I know, but I was far too focused on watching them to think about the photos.)1

The cruise continued before eventually dropping us off at Furneaux Lodge, a bar and restaurant that is surrounded by little holiday cabins and set beside the well known Queen Charlotte Track (located on the other side of the Sounds to Picton). We had a little bit of time to kill before going for our pre-paid lunch so we opted to go on an hour long walk to a waterfall – according to Sarah this is a trip she regularly sells to the elderly, suggesting that it’s a relatively easy, perhaps even scenic, walk along the Queen Charlotte Track. Wrong. We had to climb over tree trunks, duck underneath vines, hop our way through muddy pools (whilst wearing flip flops and a pretty dress) before completely losing the track and missing the waterfall altogether. By the time we finally got our bearings we decided we were over the whole thing and just wanted to eat (four hangry people lost in a dense wood turned out to be highly entertaining and I nearly weed laughing for half of the journey). It’s safe to say that Sarah is no longer promoting this activity to those over 70.

With twigs in our hair and mud spread evenly throughout our toes we found ourselves a table overlooking Furneaux Lodges’ gardens. It was a gorgeous little spot and the lodge had such a lovely atmosphere. The sun was shining and everyone looked to be having a great day.

Lunch was ordered: three burgers and a fish and chips, followed by desserts and ice-creams. It actually felt as though we were all on holiday, and I momentarily forgot that I would have work the next morning. So after filling our bellies we went for a walk along the beach before lying down for a group nap in the sun (we didn’t realise until afterwards that this was probably a bit weird).

The boat picked us up at 3pm, just as the clouds were beginning to role in and the wind had picked up, dropping us back into Picton just after 4:30pm. We were all shattered, ready for another nap, but  Dave and I still had the 2.5 hour drive back to Motueka to do. Looks like we would have to pick up dinner on the way home (which led to a big  debate, KFC vs. a Mapua Pizza…).

A great weekend with great company – one of many blessings of living somewhere so beautiful, and with so much to explore. Bring on the next adventure.

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